Whether you take one or several a day, knowing how to take supplements, where to store them and when to replace them is the key to ensuring they’ll work to optimize your health.
1. Store them the right way
If you think your medicine cabinet is the best place to store your supplements, think again. The heat and humidity from your shower day after day can affect the efficacy and shelf life of your supplements. The same goes for your kitchen where heat and humidity fluctuate or where supplements can be exposed to light.
Always store your supplements in a cool, dry place like the pantry, a closet or another room. Although it’s cool, most supplements shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator because there’s too much moisture, which can cause mold. Some supplements, however, like probiotics need to be stored in the refrigerator, so be sure to read labels. Plus, if you have children, be sure to store supplements out of reach or consider purchasing a medicine lock box.
2. Set up reminders
Remembering to take your supplements every day can be a challenge no matter how sharp your memory is or how organized you are. The key to sticking to any habit is consistency and using a strategy that works for you.
Consider taking them at the same time each day, putting a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, setting an alarm on your phone or using an app to remind you.A pill box can also come in handy but only if your supplements don’t need to be stored in their original containers.
3. Keep track
If you take several supplements or other medications, you can easily forget how many pills to take and how often. To keep track, label your bottles with the amount of pills and the frequency. You can also keep a list of everything you take, which can also come in handy for your doctor if they ever ask what supplements you take and could allow them to spot potential drug interactions.
4. Know when and how to take them
You should always take your supplements with a glass of water but for optimal dissolution and absorption, some supplements must be taken with food, while others can be taken on an empty stomach. You might need to take them with a meal, while for others, a glass of milk will do.
The time of day is also important. For example, breakfast is a good option for most supplements as part of a morning routine and with food to avoid potential gastric discomfort. Always read the label or call the manufacturer to find out the best and way to take your supplements.
5. Make it easy
If swallowing supplements has ever made you gag, choke or vomit, you’ve probably sworn them off for good. But the good news is that there are things you can do to make that pill easy to swallow.
Try adding it to applesauce, pudding or a smoothie. You can also use a pill crusher and add it to food or swallow the pieces one at a time.
Capsules are harder since they can’t be crushed and they can float to the top of the mouth. Instead of tipping your head back, put the capsule in your mouth, take a small sip of water and tilt your head slightly forward—it should slide right down. You can also try putting the capsule in your mouth and drinking several gulps of water from a water bottle to get it down fast.
6. Throw out old supplements
Although they’re not dangerous to take, an expired supplement has lost its potency so taking it won’t do you any good. Be sure to check your bottles regularly and replace any supplements that have expired.