Look after your supplements and your supplements will look after you

Product labels can tell you which nutrients and active ingredients are included, and the amount of nutrients per daily intake. The label also provides details of contraindications (or when the product should not be taken) and storage. It is important to take notice of these things because it can impact on how effective the supplement will be and whether it is suitable for you.

But what about the information which isn’t included on the label, such as; when should you take them, first thing in the morning or when you remember? Should they be taken before, with or after food? Can you crush a tablet and is it ok to keep them in your bathroom cabinet? Should you always stick to the directions and best before date? And what exactly does RDA mean?


Regularity is an extremely important factor in determining when to take supplements especially for long-term ailments or symptoms, or to prevent disease and promote longevity. Many people like to take their supplement in the morning, so that it becomes part of their breakfast routine. Before bed, or first thing in the morning, put all your daily supplements into a little dish and keep it in plain sight on your kitchen counter (out of reach of children and pets).

Another effective timesaver is to sort out a week or two’s worth of daily supplements in a special tray with 7 or 14 small partitions. To ensure your supplements are taken at the best possible time of day:

Take Vitamins and Minerals with meals, when your digestion is most active, for maximum absorption and to lessen the possibility of gastrointestinal upset.

Spreading your supplements throughout the day (such as, at morning and evening meals) is best, but if you think you won’t remember, taking supplements at one time during the day is fine.

Take supplement drinks before or between meals for best effectiveness.

If a supplement like Garlic, Glucosamine or Green Lipped Muscle Extract tends to upset your stomach, take it just before meals to reduce possible discomfort.

Stimulating supplements such as Ginseng and Spirulina are best taken in the early part of the day, not before bedtime.

B Vitamins and Vitamin C are watersoluble which means that they stay in the body for a short period of time, about two to four days. Your body begins using these vitamins the minute they’re absorbed through your digestive system and they need to be replenished regularly. Therefore it is even more important to remember to take them every day. Fat soluble Vitamins A D E and K, last longer in the body and are less likely to need replacement.

Can I crush tablets?
In order to supply adequate amounts of the nutrients, some tablets are quite large and this can cause problems for people who have difficulty swallowing them. Most supplement tablets can be crushed and mixed with a small amount of food or a drink. However you should choose cold instead of hot food/drink because some vitamins are easily damaged by heat.

Most supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place out of sight and reach of children and this is usually stated on the packaging. This is because hot, humid storage locations, such as the bathroom cabinet or a cupboard over the kettle, can cause the nutrients to begin to degenerate, causing discoloration of the tablet and rendering the supplement ineffective. Bright light can also damage the nutrients by effectively bleaching them out. So avoid the windowsill too.

Also, store supplements out of sight and away from children and pets. Don’t leave them on the counter or rely on child resistant packaging. Supplements are best stored in a locked cabinet or other secure location.

Best Before Date
Supplements can lose potency over time, especially in hot and humid climates. If your supplements have gone beyond the best before or use by date, discard them and place a new order.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is listed on most supplement labels and this is the recommended amount of a nutrient that should be taken in one day to meet the requirements for most normal healthy adults. It is usually listed as a % so that you can quickly see how much of the total daily requirement is included per daily intake. RDA levels vary according to age, and sometimes gender, therefore the percentage indicated is usually for an average adult (excluding children) unless otherwise stipulated.

If an RDA isn’t listed this is usually because the government hasn’t set these levels for this nutrient yet. In this case the latest scientific data is used to establish the best amount for a nutrient in a supplement. You should never take more tablets than directed on the label because it is perfectly possible to have too much of a nutrient which can cause have adverse effects on the body.

If you notice an RDA is higher than 100% (often on Vitamin C supplements) this may be because the latest scientific data suggests it may be beneficial. Reputable companies such as Supplemented always investigate the appropriate level to set nutrients at and I would always suggest buying from a name you can trust.