It’s kind of ironic because I’ve been seeing Dr. Schiller – one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s gynecologists – for nearly 15 years. She has long told me that I shouldn’t waste my money on supplements. Not only do you pee out many of them, most are filled with lots of fillers or have enticingly high amounts of a particular vitamin, way more than your body is even able to absorb at one time! Add to that the fact that many people take them wrong – not all supplements are meant to be taken equally. Some supplements should be taken with food, some with fat, some simply with water and on an empty stomach. The bottom line most people are wasting a ridiculous amount of time, money, and energy… time, money, and energy that could be going into eating fresh produce that are naturally full of all these good things our bodies need!
“Bioavailability is the biggest issue when it comes to vitamin absorption,” says Leslie Dominguez, MD (a general practitioner specializing in weight loss medicine). “Bioavailability is the ability of your body to absorb the nutrients. The vitamins need to be in the right form for your body to absorb them. Minerals like zinc, magnesium and iron must be attached to an amino acid for absorption so look for chelated forms. B vitamins have to be activated in order to be absorbed.” If you’re going to be buying supplements she suggests looking for activated forms.
“Mega doses of certain supplements can be a waste of time if you are not deficient,” says Dr. Dominguez. “Calcium is only absorbed in 500 mg doses and taking large doses of Vitamin C if not deficient will go straight to your urine. Another important point is that Vitamin A, B, D, and K are all fat soluble so must be taken with a fatty food such as nuts or avocado. Iron is absorbed better if taken with citrus fruits. Look for a USP seal on your supplements. USP verified means that the vitamin or supplement breaks down in the body properly, contains the ingredients listed on the label, does not contain harmful levels of contaminants and has been made in a safe environment.”
Again, the best thing to do is to get these vitamins from your food then there’s no stressing about whether your body is metabolizing them properly or not. Though I do want to add one disclaimer, Dr. Schiller makes one exception – Vitamin D. She told me that if you live in a place like NYC, it’s literally impossible to get enough most of the year given the lack of sunshine so she suggests taking a daily supplement (with fat!) daily.
As with anything speak with your doctor. It’s also important to note that kids, pregnant women, and women trying to be pregnant are all different stories and can usually benefit to a greater extent from taking supplements.
Share with us your thoughts and experiences with supplements!