WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – More than half of American adults and more than one-third of children use dietary supplements, according to a study released by the CDC. However, it is questionable whether they actually help much.
Many people think that they need to take supplements and vitamins. They can be beneficial, but their effectiveness depends in large part on how they are taken.
One misconception that’s been going around on TikTok lately is that simply taking supplements without eating can cause them to stay in your stomach. This video has been viewed 3.1 million times.
“It’s hard to believe that capsules can get stuck in your stomach just because you haven’t eaten anything around the time you eat them. That seems like an urban legend,” said Ryan Gossett, a physician at the Marshfield Clinic.
Gossett says there’s really no general “right” time to take supplements or vitamins, and it depends on the type. Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, B vitamins, and folic acid should be taken on an empty stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, K, E, and D, must be taken with certain foods.
“Iron is absorbed more efficiently when taken with something that contains citric acid, such as orange juice or lemonade,” says Gossett.
If there’s one vitamin Gossett recommends, it’s vitamin D. It’s not well absorbed through the digestive system, he says. But for every yin there is a yang. Vitamin D is classified as a fat-soluble vitamin.
“What this actually means is that if you take too much, your body won’t be able to pass it through. You’ll accumulate the vitamin, so in theory it could become toxic if you take it.” Gossett says.
There’s a lot of uncertainty about vitamins and supplements and what’s actually inside each capsule.
“There are different amounts of things, and sometimes different amounts. What are the other compounds that are mixed in there,” Gossett said.
Vitamins are not regulated in the same way as medicines, which can affect how openly people discuss vitamins with their doctors and how often.
“Only about a quarter of patients disclose that they take any supplements or vitamins,” Gossett says.
If you’re nervous about talking to your doctor about vitamins or supplements, Gossett recommends trying to be open and honest. This is to ensure you get the most benefit from the vitamins and supplements you are taking.
If you want to learn more about a specific supplement, you can search by name on the NIH website. If you would like to learn more about supplements in general, please visit this link.
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