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Nutrient Interactions


The most common problem I encounter with "nutritionally aware" patients is they almost never know when to combine or avoid the combination of different nutritional products

The most common problem I encounter with "nutritionally aware" patients is they almost never know when to combine or avoid the combination of different nutritional products. This is also true when I speak with other practitioners. So get out your scissors and stick this article on your fridge or clinic bulletin board!

General Rules

Supplements should be consumed with at least 225 mL of water.

When consuming new products, start with the smallest amount possible in order to minimize any potential adverse reactions that may occur.

If you take prescription drugs, always consult with your medical practitioner regarding possible negative interactions with foods, supplements and alcohol. Prescription drugs should not be consumed at the same time of the day as nutritional supplements, unless your qualified health care practitioner has advised you otherwise.

Vitamins and minerals (including bioflavanoids) should be consumed with food.

Beta-carotene may not be converted into vitamin A in the body of diabetics, patients with hypothyroidism or individuals with severe liver dysfunction. These individuals should not rely on beta-carotene as their sole source of vitamin A. Also, a build-up of beta-carotene may be harmful and thus supplementation by these individuals should be limited or avoided. Beta-carotene supplements should come from natural sources only.

Calcium supplements (especially calcium carbonate) can decrease stomach acidity and can therefore decrease absorption of the calcium as well as other nutrients. This does not occur with calcium citrate. Calcium is generally best consumed in smaller dosages throughout the day and before bedtime.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can turn urine bright yellow. This is a harmless effect.

Vitamin B3 (in niacin form only) can cause a "niacin flush" which can cause systemic tingling, flushing, rash and altered sensations. This effect is usually harmless and can be minimized by consuming niacin with extra food or limiting intake to less than approximately 100 mg at a time.

Vitamin E supplements work best if from a natural source.

Zinc supplements may cause nausea. This can be minimized by consuming with extra food and/or consuming chelated zinc.

Glandulars should be consumed on an empty stomach and without food or with a small amount of non-protein food, if mild stomach uneasiness occurs. Different glandulars may be consumed together and with complex amino acid formulas, friendly bacteria and small amounts of herbal products. Some glandulars may disturb sleep, if consumed too close to bedtime.

Single amino acids and complex amino acid formulae should be consumed on an empty stomach and without food, especially without protein containing products. They can be taken with fat/oil supplements, friendly bacterias, co-enzyme Q10, digestive enzymes and herbal formulas. Some single amino acids and combination formulas may be consumed at the same time. Complex amino acid formulas are usually consumed with food, including other proteins, but may also be consumed without food.

Friendly bacterias (probiotics like acidophilus, bifidus) should be consumed without food. Different bacterias may be consumed together.

Fat/oil supplements are usually consumed with food but may be consumed without food. They are best combined with vitamin E, as this acts to prevent fat/oil oxidation.

Co-enzyme Q10 may be consumed with or without food but should be consumed with some fat, which increases absorption. This product is best combined with vitamin E, as this helps preserve co-enzyme Q10. Co-enzyme Q10 may disturb sleep if consumed too close to bedtime.

Digestive enzymes are usually consumed just before eating a meal. In some cases (like digestive tract cleansing), consuming without food may be indicated.

Herbal formulas (excluding Chinese herbal products) in capsules, tablets, teas or tinctures may be consumed with food, although it is usually best to consume them without food and on an empty stomach.

Ginseng is available in many different strains and most should not be consumed before bed, as it can often keep you awake due to its stimulatory effects. Also, many strains of ginseng can mimic male hormones and thus cause side effects in women such as enlarged clitoris, deepening of the voice, increased body and/or facial hair.

Homeopathic remedies in liquid form should be consumed on an empty stomach, without food and should be consumed at least one hour before eating. In pill form they should be consumed 1/2 hour before or 1/2 hour after eating. They should also be consumed with a clean mouth. Various homeopathic remedies may be consumed at the same time of day. Homeopathic remedies should not be consumed at the same time of day as other nutritional supplements or prescription medications, unless otherwise recommended by your health care practitioner. Homeopathic remedies can be adversely effected by mint, peppermint, camphor products (even topically), eucalyptus, caffeine and camomile, even in toothpaste. Homeopathic remedies should not be touched, handled or be subjected to skin contact.

Fibre products should be consumed with generous amounts of water at least half an hour before eating. Fibre products should not be consumed with food or other supplements.

PDF Table of Nutrient Interactions

PDF Table of Vitamins/Minerals which Increase Absorption/Effectiveness of other Nutrients