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Taking Supplements – The Easy Way, The Best Way

March 18th, 2009

Happy Pelican approves of this post.

Happy Pelican approves of this post.

Do you find it difficult to swallow multiple capsules or tablets? Is it becoming hard to manage your regimen and stay consistent? You’re not alone. As supplements become more popular (many would say they’re essential for optimal health) many users find that trying to adhere to even a modest 3 or 4 supplement regimen becomes a little tricky and hard to manage. That’s to say nothing of the more complex regimens that incorporate 8, 10 or more supplements.  Lots of people are sold on the idea of using supplements, but quickly become turned off to the process when they try to come to grips with swallowing a handful of capsules and juggling a few different products on a daily basis. What can you do to make taking supplement products easier and stick to your regimen? A lot, actually. Find out in today’s AllStarHealth.com blog, where we’ll discuss the easiest and best ways to physically take nutritional supplements. Check back on Friday, when we’ll talk about the best way to manage a supplement regimen and stay consistent.

Since most supplements come in capsule/tablet/softgel form, let’s talk about those first.  With few exceptions, these are designed to be swallowed whole – not chewed, dissolved or opened up. But there’s a few ways of doing that, and the method you choose is going to make the process easier, or harder.

Most people swallow their supplement tablets one at a time, with a small amount of liquid.  This is, we suspect, because it’s how we’ve been conditioned to take drugs and medicines.  But it’s just another example of why we always need to consider supplements separately from drugs and medicine. This method works “OK”, you can do that, but if you’re taking more than one or two, it becomes a big hassle.  You wind up have to force down a mouthful of liquid for each tablet or two, and a whole lot of liquid if you have several supplements to take. This method might be great if you’re dying of thirst, but if not, and if you have a few supplements, you wind up having to consume a lot of liquid, often more than you can comfortably get down in one sitting.

For some people, this is also physically uncomfortable because even swallowed with a lot of liquid, the tablets feel like they get stuck in their esophagus, or only descend slowly with a lingering and annoying Plum Pit Qi sensation. What happens in these people is that upon swallowing the liquid and tablet, the liquid rushes past the tablet and into the stomach, leaving a now-slowly-disintegrating tablet to be slowly pushed along by the swallowing reflex. Often the sensation persists even after the tablet has physically left the esophagus and entered the stomach.

A much better way to take most tablets is with food at mealtime. Exceptions would be those supplements that require an empty stomach. In every other case, swallowing tablets with food at mealtime – once you get the hang of it – is much easier and much more comfortable than the usual one-tablet-at-a-time, followed by a swallow of liquid, followed by another tablet, followed by another swallow, and so on.

You can and should (if only for the sake of your dining guests) learn to do this discreetly. It’s very simple. With each bite of food, and it can be any kind of solid food, you (hopefully) chew it up before swallowing. Only, now you’re going to pause just before swallowing that bolus of food, and hold in your cheek for the second or two it takes to pop a tablet or two into your mouth.  This is where you may need to be a little discreet, unless you’re dining alone;  perhaps you could briefly cover your mouth with your hand or a napkin as you do so.

A little discretion may be in order.

A little discretion may be in order.

Once you’ve popped the tablet(s) into your mouth,  push the tablets into the bolus of food and swallow the whole thing. If you do it correctly, and with enough food in there you won’t even realize you’re swallowing anything besides food.  It does have to be a sufficient amount of food though and not, say, a single raisin. Since you’re going to be repeating the chewing/swallowing process as you enjoy your meal, you’ll have many opportunities to take a tablet or two each time, and it winds up being very little trouble to take even a great many tablets or capsules.

This helps to ensure that both the tablets and food make their way quickly and comfortably down into your stomach, and virtually guarantees against that sensation of having something stuck on the way down. It also helps optimize the disintegration and absorption of the tablets since they are literally mixing in with your food, much like a farmer’s fertilizer must be mixed in with soil to work and not just be applied to the top layer.

Most people, if they use supplements at all are using more than one. So please check back with us on Friday, March 20, 2009 when we’ll talk about how to manage a supplement regimen to save time and money and stay consistent.

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