How to make the most of your vitamins
Posted on July 12 2019
When it comes to nourishing your body, it’s key that the vitamins in your diet are doing their job properly. Whether you eat a rainbow of fruit and veg every day, or stay topped up with supplements, what really matters is that your body is absorbing these nutrients. In other words, bioavailability is really important. So, what can you do to ensure you’re making the most of your vitamins?
1) Choose chelated forms
Minerals such as zinc and magnesium, which are important for hundreds of functions throughout your body, are classed as inorganic compounds. Your body can only absorb and utilise so much of these.
Choosing a chelated version of a mineral means that it’s been combined with amino acids, which are readily absorbed by the body. This means it’s more likely to survive the passage from the stomach to the small intestine undamaged. So, more of the mineral is absorbed by your body.
One example of this is the amino acid glycine, which is often bound to magnesium, giving us Magnesium Glycinate. The idea is that this chelated magnesium is better absorbed, and less likely to break down, because it gets carried to your cells bound to the amino acid.
2) Combine with the right foods
This is true for vitamin supplements as well as food you eat. If you don’t combine your vitamins with the right food, you can hinder their absorption. For example, all the fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D and K) need fats to be absorbed properly. So, adding avocado, nuts or olive oil to a salad will help you get the most from all the vitamins in your veg.
Iron is another one to keep your eye on. It doesn’t pair well with calcium, because they both compete to be absorbed in your intestines, meaning they reduce each other’s uptake. But it does pair brilliantly with vitamin C, which significantly increases the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods. For a perfect pairing, try a spinach salad topped with peppers and orange, or a mixed bean salad with tomato and lemon juice.
3) Timing is everything
We’ve touched on the importance of how you take your vitamins. But it’s also essential to think about when you take them. You should remember that supplements can’t do your body any good if you don’t remember to take them. So, the best time might differ from person to person. If you find it easiest to work your vitamins into your morning routine, then that’s the way to go, as long as you combine them with the right foods.
Although taking your vitamins at a convenient time is generally a good rule to stick to, there are a few exceptions. As we mentioned earlier, some vitamins do need to be taken alongside food for the best effect, so it’s good to keep that in mind. There are also a few vitamins and minerals that are best taken before you head off to sleep, instead of in the morning. For example, magnesium and 5-HTP are often used for sounder sleep, so are best taken just before bed in order to gain the benefits.
What to remember
It’s not just the supplement you choose, but the form too, as this can impact how much you absorb. You should be able to get most of the nutrients you need from your diet, but what you combine your vitamins with is also important. Remember to consider the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins in order to get the best out of each. Small changes like this can make all the difference when it comes to keeping on top of your health.