Misconceptions surrounding vitamins and supplements intake

A big part of whether supplements and vitamins work relies on how they’re taken
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:54 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - According to a study brought out by the CDC, more than half of American adults and more than a third of children, use dietary supplements. it’s been questioned, however, whether they actually offer much help.

Many people think taking supplements and vitamins is necessary. While they can be beneficial, a big part of whether they work relies on how they’re taken.

One misconception that’s recently been circulating on TikTok is that supplements can become lodged inside our stomachs just by taking supplements without eating. The video has 3.1 million views.

“I have a hard time believing that a capsule is going to get lodged in your stomach just because you didn’t eat anything around the time you ate it. It seems like that’s an urban legend,” said Ryan Gossett, Medical Doctor at Marshfield Clinic.

Gossett says there isn’t really a general “right” time of day to take a supplement or vitamin, and that it really depends on the type. Water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B, and folate you actually should take on an empty stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, K, E, and D should be taken with certain foods.

“Iron gets absorbed much more efficiently if you take it with something that has citric acid in it like orange juice or lemonade,” said Gossett.

If there is one vitamin that Gossett says he would recommend, it’s vitamin D. He says this one doesn’t get absorbed as much through your digestive system. With every Yin, however, there’s a Yang. Vitamin D falls under the fat-soluble vitamins.

“What that really means is if you take too much, your body isn’t going to pass it. It’s going to store it, and you could theoretically get toxic on those vitamins,” said Gossett.

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding vitamins and supplements, and what’s actually inside each capsule.

“There’s varying amounts in things, there’s varying quantities at times, what are the other compounds mixed in there,” said Gossett.

Vitamins aren’t regulated the same as pharmaceutical drugs, and that could impact how open and often people are with discussing these with their doctors.

“Only about a quarter of patients bring up they’re taking some sort of supplement or vitamin,” said Gossett.

If you find it nerve-wracking to discuss vitamins and supplements with your doctor, Gossett recommends trying to be open and honest with them. This is so you can fully benefit from whichever vitamins or supplements you are taking.

If you would like to learn more about a specific supplement, you can search by name on the NIH website. If you’re interested in learning more about supplements in general, you can visit this link.