How Long does it take for Supplements to Start Working?

How Long does it take for Supplements to Start Working?

February 14, 2018

Generally, any supplement will take a minimum of 2-4 weeks before its true health benefits “kick in”. However, to achieve optimum performance from any supplement plan it’s best to view the ‘long game’, rather than view as a short-term fix.…

We all want to achieve a good nutritional balance, maintaining adequate levels of essential nutrients to fuel and nourish our body. It can be weeks before we’re alerted to any deficiencies caused by our diet or lifestyle choices. In the same way any extra help we take on board via the supplement route can take time to come to full affect.  

As organic compounds which are involved in complex and varied metabolic functions, supplements are not a ‘quick-fix’ measure for feeling run down or lacking in energy. It can take varying time for a vitamin’s protective effects to emerge and this is usually dependant on various factors:  

 

LEVEL OF DEFICIENCY

This is the biggest factor associated with how long it’ll take before a supplement will start to work. Our lifestyle characteristics can have a dramatic effect on how our bodies respond to vitamins. Basically, if your nutrient store is running on empty it’ll take longer than if you’re looking simply for a ‘top up’.  In most cases a short vitamin supplement stint will not yield the results hoped for.

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE

Your required dosage will depend on the level of deficiency. For example, smokers or those sufferers of conditions such as anaemia may have a greater need for certain vitamins at higher doses than someone who’s diet may be lacking in simply one specific nutrient.

Supplements and their long-term use play a major role for certain groups of people, such as those on long-term restrictive weight loss plans or that suffer from malabsorption problems such as coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis.

Some slow-release supplements are designed specifically to be released over a period of time. For example, slow release iron will be released steadily over weeks or months until blood iron levels stabilize in anaemia.

High doses will only make your supplement regime more effective and quicker-acting if your level of deficiency is greater.  In other words, these more potent vitamins and minerals will provide targeted help where needed, acting faster when your body needs to play “catch-up” to fill up nutrient levels to what they should be.         

HOW OUR BODIES PROCESS VITAMINS

Diet, exercise, smoking and other lifestyle choices directly affect the speed at which these added nutrients will be absorbed into the body. Also, our body will hold onto certain vitamins and minerals longer than others:

Typically, our fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) can be locked away in the liver and body fat and so can be stored for long periods of time. However, those water-soluble vitamins, including B-complex and Vitamin C are lost quicker as are dispersed through the body’s fluids and therefore need to be replenished more often.

SUPPLEMENT QUALITY

It might seem obvious but always check your supplement for an adequate level of active ingredient per tablet. Products heavy on binders or fillers will simply not do the job required.   

COMBINED USE

All nutrients need other nutrients for absorption and usage. For example, if you’re supplementing with calcium, magnesium or zinc, this will offer little or no benefit if you’re deficient in Vitamin D as these extra minerals cannot be absorbed without this particular vitamin. Similarly, a glass of OJ is by far the best way to take many supplements such as iron or glucosamine sulphate as vitamin C aids faster absorption.

 Caffeine is a prime offender at inhibiting the absorption of many essential nutrients. For example, taking iron supplements with a caffeinated drink may reduce absorption by up to 80% so it’s a wise move to cut down (or cut out) your favourite fizz, coffee or tea. If you find this difficult make sure you leave at least an hour between caffeine consumption and taking your supplement for it to be effective.  

FILL THE GAPS

If we can inform ourselves of what nutrients we might be missing, supplementation of our ‘gaps’ will deliver many health benefits over time. Take the Convenient Vitamins lifestyle survey to discover how you can fill your gaps. By answering a few, simple questions about your lifestyle habits this will enable our experts to diagnose a complete supplement regime containing the ideal ratios and dosages of quality vitamins and minerals required other supplements required for support all-year round. 

References:

What is Slow Release Iron? Livestrong.com

The Effect of Caffeine on Vitamin Absorption - Fitday