Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



6 Tricks to Make Your Supplements Work Better for Your Body

Learn what you should and shouldn't do to make your vitamins work best for your body.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.

Most supplements are more effective when you 
take them with a meal rather than on an empty stomach. “A balanced meal that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat stimulates optimal acid secretion in the stomach, which is critical for extracting nutrients from your supplements 
and absorbing them,” says Lauri Wright, PhD, 
an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida College of Public Health. What’s more, some vitamins and minerals 
work exceptionally well when paired together. Here, Wright shares three ideal combos:

1. Take iron with vitamin C. 

The acid in 
foods that contain vitamin C (think berries, citrus, or even apple cider vinegar) make 
iron easier to digest.

2. Take calcium and magnesium with 
vitamin D. 

Your body can’t absorb calcium 
or magnesium without sufficient vitamin D, which also enhances your kidneys’ ability 
to break down and recycle calcium that 
would otherwise be excreted. 

3. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E) 
dissolve in fats and oils. 

For better absorption, take them with foods that contain 
a small amount of healthful dietary fat, such 
as nuts, olive oil, or avocado.  

See also Do Yogis Really Need to Take a Daily Multivitamin?

3 Key Supplement Contraindications To Know

Some vitamins and herbs can compete with each other for absorption and interfere with certain medications, says holistic pharmacist Sherry Torkos. To avoid doing more harm than good, it’s crucial to talk to your health care provider about everything you’re taking. Keep these important contraindications in mind:

1. If you’re taking a blood thinner, avoid supplements that have an additional blood-thinning effect, such as vitamin E, high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, and Ginkgo biloba. It’s also smart to avoid vitamin K, which can affect how certain medications work.

2. If you’re planning on spending long periods of time in the sun, avoid St. John’s wort, niacin, and vitamin B3, which all increase photosensitivity and may cause sun-related skin reactions, such as rashes, says Torkos.

3. If you suffer from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, avoid probiotics and prebiotics. They may overcrowd your gut with bacteria and make your gas problems worse, says Gerard Guillory, MD, an integrative physician who specializes in irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut.

See also 10 Supplements that Can Make Even the Fittest Yogis Feel Better