Fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, and nuts are the best source of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs. However, sometimes you aren’t able to consume enough of a necessary nutrient in your diet. In this case, your doctor may recommend taking a supplement to boost your vitamin or mineral intake. Many of these supplements work better or cause less stomach upset when taken along with food.
10. Vitamin A
Vitamin A, along with vitamins D, E, and K, is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water and are best absorbed when consumed with foods that contain fat. Once the body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins, it stores them in body fat or the liver. Vitamin A plays a part in growth, immunity, red blood cell formation, and vision. If your doctor prescribes supplementation with vitamin A, be sure to take this supplement with food to get the best absorption.
9. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another fat-soluble vitamin that works best when taken with food. If you are not able to get the necessary amount of vitamin D from sun exposure, foods, or vitamin D-fortified foods, your doctor may recommend a supplement. Those at risk for vitamin D deficiency include breastfed infants, the elderly, people without access to sunshine, and people with disorders that don’t allow proper fat absorption. Vitamin D is critical for blood pressure control, bone growth, hormone production, and immunity. To get the most from vitamin D supplements, take them along with your largest meal of the day.
8. Vitamin E
This fat-soluble vitamin is important for vision, immune function, and the formation of blood vessels. It is also an antioxidant that protects your cells against damage by free radicals. The Mayo Clinic cautions that most people are able to get the required amount of vitamin E from their diet. Furthermore, too much vitamin E can have negative side effects. However, if your doctor recommends taking a vitamin E supplement, your body will best absorb it when it is taken with food. Natural food sources of vitamin E include green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
7. Vitamin K
It is rare to have a deficiency in vitamin K. Those at risk for a deficiency in this vitamin are people who are unable to absorb fat. This includes people with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and short bowel syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin K is found in green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and collards. To absorb more of this vitamin, consume these vegetables along with fatty foods such as salmon, nuts, avocado, or olive oil.
Your doctor may recommend supplementation with calcium, as American diets are often low in this important mineral. Calcium is critical for the formation of healthy teeth and bone tissues. It is also important for blood clotting, blood vessels, hormone secretion, and healthy nervous system function. There are two types of calcium supplements available. Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic recommends taking calcium carbonate with food for better absorption. You can take calcium citrate either with or without food. Additionally, Zeratsky recommends taking smaller doses of calcium throughout the day, as doses greater than 600 mg at a time are not as well absorbed.
Echinacea is a popular supplement thought to stimulate the immune system and help fight against viruses such as the common cold. The National Institutes of Health states that echinacea supplements will not shorten the length of time you suffer from a common cold. However, echinacea may slightly reduce the risk of catching a cold in the first place. The most common side effect of this popular supplement is stomach upset. To avoid side effects such as stomachache and nausea, take this supplement with food.
4. Fish Oil
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and in food sources may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease. Additionally, these healthy fatty acids may reduce the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are healthy dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, fish oil supplements can provide these fatty acids. Side effects of fish oil pills include nausea, indigestion, and loose stools. Take these supplements with food to decrease these unpleasant side effects.Related: Why You Should Take Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements
Iron-deficiency anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to make hemoglobin. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, and feeling cold even in warm temperatures. If your doctor prescribes an iron supplement for anemia, this medication is best absorbed on an empty stomach. However, you may take iron with food if it causes stomach upset. A glass of orange juice will increase the absorption of iron supplements. Do not take iron with milk, calcium supplements, antacids, or caffeine, as these substances can decrease the absorption of iron.Related: 10 Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Since multivitamins contain a variety of both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, it is best to take them with food. The fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed when taken along with healthy fats. Therefore, the best time to take multivitamins is with the meal that is most likely to contain healthy fats and oils. This may be at breakfast if you enjoy a morning meal of whole wheat toast spread with mashed avocado or nut butter. If breakfast is a lighter meal, you may want to take your multivitamin at lunch or dinner along with a serving of fish or vegetables roasted with a drizzle of olive oil.
Probiotics are supplements containing healthy bacteria that promote good gut health and may improve immune function. They may help prevent diarrhea and stomach upset that can accompany antibiotic use. Others promote the use of probiotics to boost the immune system and fend off the common cold. The healthy bacteria found in these supplements are also found in food sources such as yogurt or kefir. One study showed that bacterial cultures have a better survival rate when taken 30 minutes before a meal or consumed right along with a fat-containing meal.Related: 6 Quick Tricks to Keep Your Bowels Regular