Does supplement timing matter? It definitely can!
Not only does it matter what type of supplement you are taking, but it also matters how and when you are taking them. Certain minerals and vitamins are best taken alongside others while others may disrupt each other's function by competing for absorption. You will also want to pay attention to the timing of your supplements if you are taking medications or with foods.
If you want to be the most efficient with your supplementation, read on about how to take your supplements to maximize the benefits:
Calcium and magnesium
You have probably heard about calcium's primary role in bone health but did you know it is the most abundant mineral in the body? Calcium does more than just support bone health it also is involved in nerve transmission and neurotransmitter production, regulation of muscle contractions, and heavy metal detoxification.
However, excess calcium can be a problem and has been linked to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Calcium should never be taken by itself. When supplementing always ensure calcium is taken with magnesium at a ratio of 2:1 or 1:1.
For bone health, a good supplement formula will include calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K together. We recommend taking calcium in divided doses during the day, always check for any interactions if you are taking medications.
Vitamin D3 and K2
We all know vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. Thus many Canadians supplement with vitamin D due to lack of sunlight exposure. But did you know taking vitamin D increases your body's demand for vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is made by our intestinal bacteria and can also be found in fermented foods and animal products.
Vitamin K2 works with vitamin D to improve bone and heart health (1). Excess vitamin D supplementation can increase the risk of calcification but this is usually due to a lack of vitamin K2.
K2 goes straight to your blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues and works synergistically with vitamin D by directing it to areas of the body where it is needed such as the bone, instead of coagulating in the arteries. Vitamin K2 is therefore critical to keep your bones healthy and should always be combined with vitamin D3.
As vitamin D and K are fat-soluble vitamins be sure to take them with dietary fats or take a supplement that already includes a fat source, like Natural factors.
Vitamin C and Iron
If you have trouble boosting your iron status - you may need vitamin C!
It's not just about how much iron you ingest it's about how much you actually absorb. Heme sources of iron, or animal sources, are the most readily absorbed and can be found in foods such as red meat, shellfish, poultry, and fish.
Iron absorption, especially from non-heme or vegetarian sources, increases with vitamin C intake (2). Not only that but vitamin C can also reduce or reverse the effects of certain iron inhibiting foods like tea or coffee - which increases overall iron status. Choosing an iron formula that includes vitamin C or including vitamin C rich foods whilst eating iron-rich foods is a good idea to ensure you reach optimal iron levels.
Iron can cause stomach upset or nausea on an empty stomach so be sure to take it with a meal to reduce any discomfort. We recommend testing before supplementing to avoid any risk of toxicity.
Iodine and Selenium
Iodine deficiency is commonly associated with hypothyroidism but there is a lot of controversy around its supplementation. However, it has been shown that issues around iodine supplementation and thyroid health may stem from a selenium deficiency (3). These two minerals are required for thyroid hormone production and need to be kept in the right ratios. This means that if you are taking iodine it may be a good idea to combine it with selenium to in order to protect the thyroid from iodine toxicity.
Always be cautious with iodine supplementation especially if you have thyroid issues and check in with your doctor before supplementing.
Zinc and Copper
Zinc and copper are essential minerals and but also antagonists, which means they compete with each for absorption in the body.
If you are supplementing zinc long term or at high doses, you may want to look into a zinc-copper supplement like AOR to reduce the risk of copper deficiency. In addition, if you have the copper IUD, zinc supplementation is probably a good idea and we suggest talking about this with your doctor.
Copper toxicity is more common than zinc toxicity and may be treated with zinc supplementation. Take with meals to reduce stomach upset and nausea and away from calcium, magnesium, and iron supplementation to avoid interference of absorption.
Always check with your health care practitioner before supplementing to make sure you are getting what you need and avoid the risk of toxicity.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.