HealthWatch: Tips to Make Vitamins Work Better


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — With more than 90,000 supplements on the market, the vitamin industry is a big one in the U.S. Since 1999, the National Institutes of Health has spent $2.4 billion researching vitamins and minerals. The jury is still out on how effective all these supplements are, but there are steps consumers can take to optimize the efficacy of their vitamins. 
Fifty percent of adults take vitamins and supplements, but dieticians say we’re not getting the most bang for our buck.  
“There are ways to enhance the absorption, the efficiency of the vitamin and mineral supplement,” explained Moe Schlachter, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian at Houston Family Nutrition.
One way to do that? Take fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K with a high-fat meal. 
“Those fat-soluble vitamins will be better absorbed with a meal that contains at least ten grams of fat or more,” detailed Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.
One study shows taking vitamin D with a high-fat meal increases absorption 32 percent more than with a fat-free meal. 
“Some nutrients will enhance the absorption of others and then some nutrients will inhibit the absorption of others,” Linsenmeyer told Ivanhoe.
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium, so take those together. Calcium and zinc both inhibit iron absorption, so it’s best to take those separately. 
Schlachter said, “caffeine can also inhibit absorption of certain nutrients.”
People should avoid taking iron with coffee. Most vitamins with the exception of iron should be taken with food. 
“When we’re consuming these with foods, we also have those gastric juices and enzymes present that are helping us to absorb those nutrients optimally,” explained  Linsenmeyer.
Remember that all vitamins are not created equal. To ensure you’re getting safe, high quality vitamins always look for the United States Pharmacopeia seal. 
“The USP is really the saving grace, I would say, in the world of supplements,” said Schlachter.
With $30 billion spent every year on dietary supplements, a little vitamin savvy can go a long way. 
It’s important to note that some vitamins and supplements can build up to toxic levels if you take too much of them, especially fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Some vitamins can also interfere with medications prescribed by your doctor so it’s important to let your doctor know about any supplement you take.  
Contributors to this news report include: Stacie Overton, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed and Bruce Maniscalco, Videographers.

REPORT #2572

BACKGROUND: Vitamins are organic compounds we need to sustain life, which can mostly be found in our diets from food. Different vitamins serve different purposes, and there are 13 known vitamins. They are all either water-soluble or fat-soluble; the fat-soluble ones are easier for the human body to store. Food is the best source for vitamins, but some people may be given advice from their doctors to take supplements. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Water-soluble vitamins are B, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and C.  A health professional may recommend a person take vitamin supplements if they have certain conditions, are pregnant, or they are following a restricted diet. Those who do take supplemental vitamins should be cautious not to exceed maximum dosage, as this may result in further health problems. Some medications can also interact with vitamin supplements so it is important to talk to your health care provider before using any.

SCIENCE ON SUPPLEMENTS: Science has shown that eating food rich in vitamins and minerals has been linked to living longer and healthier lives, however, when these are served in a pill form, it has not been clearly determined if the results are the same. One major study in 2015 found that regularly taking supplements does not clearly appear to reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer. Several studies have also found that taking supplements on a regular basis has no net effect on risk of early death or heart health. In fact, effects seem to almost be neutral, meaning these supplements are doing nothing for these people taking them. These findings were true for calcium supplements, and multivitamins as well as vitamins D and C. As a result of these and similar studies, some experts will now say dietary supplements aren’t a necessity for the average healthy person. Others do believe that a multivitamin can still help make up for deficiencies in a person’s daily diet, especially if they are avoiding certain food groups or follow certain diet plans, such as vegan or vegetarian meal plans. 

TAKING THEM: While most vitamin and supplement consumers will assume that taking the daily dosage regularly means they are getting the most out of the product, this may be incorrect. Certain vitamins will enhance the absorption of other nutrients; for example vitamin C can enhance iron absorption from other supplements and plant foods. Taking a large dose of a mineral means it will compete with other minerals, thereby possibly reducing their absorption. Calcium is usually taken most often in large amounts, so to avoid this conflict a person should take their calcium supplement at a different time of the day than their other supplements or multivitamins. And certain supplements taken with food can reduce gastrointestinal side effects, one of these being magnesium; when taken with food it may reduce the occurrence of diarrhea. Also taking iron with food was found to reduce chances of an upset stomach. 


? For More Information, Contact:

Nancy Solomon, Director of Public Relations
Saint Louis University
(314) 977-8017

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