Home > All About Nutrients > How And When To Take Supplements

How and When to Take Supplements

Once you have established your individual optimal requirement, you can select which form of supplement you require, whether it is a powder, tablet, liquid, or capsule. You will then ensure that the amount taken per day fits your exact requirement. The supplements should generally be taken with food unless otherwise specified by your practitioner.

Some individual supplements, such as amino acids, should not be taken with food to maximize their absorption.

Most nutrients work synergistically—that is, with other nutrients—and can be taken together just as they are found in foods, and for most individuals this seems to work well. For more sensitive individuals, however, it might be worth introducing each supplement one at a time and checking for any adverse responses. In each nutrient description, we have provided information on interactions with medication and toxicity.

Adults generally find taking supplements relatively straightforward; however, encouraging a child to take supplements might be a completely different challenge. Giving your child supplements may not be easy. The following information is based on the excellent guidelines by Lori Knowles in her online article “Getting Children to Take Supplements”. Below are some suggestions that have been tried and tested to help overcome the problems of children running away, clenching their teeth or spitting back out what is put into their mouths. Whether the supplements you are giving are in capsule, liquid or chewable form, following these steps should help with getting your child to comply.

Take a No-Nonsense Approach
  1. Give supplements with the same level of intensity that you use to give your child a lifesaving medication. Your child needs these supplements to support his or her brain, immune system, and overall nutritional status. Children can sense when you mean business and you cannot allow them to think that taking their supplements is optional.
  2. Do not mix into food or drink and pretend that it’s not there! They may taste it, and this may further reduce their dietary intake. This is very important to those children who are already picky eaters.
  3. Choose the best method for your child when administering supplements. You need to consider the sensory/swallowing issues that your child has. Does your child do better with liquids or semi-solids? The two most common mediums in which to mix supplements are baby fruit purées or one to two tablespoons of strong-tasting liquids. Other liquids suitable to mix supplements in include pear, pineapple, orange, or water. It is recommended that you only use one to two tablespoons of liquid. Only use the liquid of choice for giving supplements, not for regular drinks, in order to avoid confusion.
  4. Remember that the choice of liquids or purées used should be based upon your child’s condition, so you need to take into consideration any allergies, phenol sensitivities, and sensitivity to sugar.
  5. Use the concept of “first—then”. This is a critical concept to ensure compliance. Parents can reinforce this concept by repeating it in everyday life experiences, such as, first we turn on the water, then we wash our hands. Even a very young child can learn this concept if it’s repeated enough. Once the concept is understood, you need to use it consistently to ensure the child learns. Next, choose a favorite activity (eating the next meal, watching a video/the TV, favorite toy, blanket, and so on) for the purpose of withholding it until or after the child takes the supplements successfully. It is important to be firm and never waiver on this, because it will ensure that success will come quickly.
  6. Use rewards. This comes in handy when a child needs extra reinforcement. Always give lots of praise and hugs as well as one good-tasting reward that they can associate with taking supplements.
  7. Be consistent and firm. If you are firm and do not give in over the conditions you have set down, most children will start to comply within two to three days, because they now that they cannot win the battle. Wait them out for as long as you need to, and when they finally give in and take the supplements, quickly give them praise, the preferred activity, and the small reward that is given every time they successfully take their supplements. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to be more willing next time.