7 Helpful Tips From A Pharmacist On How To Take Health Supplements Effectively & Safely

7 Helpful Tips From A Pharmacist On How To Take Health Supplements Effectively & Safely

Lifestyle Wellness
By Sophie Hong on 18 Nov 2021
Senior Editor

Health supplements can help you to maintain your health and wellbeing. And as the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure - so it’s a good idea to get started before you experience symptoms of ill health. 

In fact, 53% of Singaporeans aged 25 to 45 have taken dietary supplements, according to a July 2020 survey by Rakuten Insight. Perhaps due to the pandemic, we are becoming more health-conscious - an online poll by Wunderman Thompson earlier this year found that 3 in 4 Singapore residents stated that their physical health is “very much” a priority. 

We got Shawn Lee, a pharmacist at Guardian Tampines Mall to give us the lowdown on taking health products, as well as some important things we need to take note of when taking them. And if you’re still unsure after reading this article? Head down to Guardian, where you can get health and beauty products at a great price and seek out recommendations from their professionally-trained pharmacists

Also, take note that Guardian will be holding year-end mega sales for 11.11 - so mark your calendars and get ready to stock up on all your beauty and personal care essentials! 

Read on for helpful tips on how to best consume health supplements in order to get the most out of them!

#1 Take the right dosage of vitamin C

“Anyone can take vitamin C supplements to boost the immune system, especially in the midst of a pandemic,” explains Shawn.

However, do take note that your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C. It is water soluble, so your body will absorb what it needs and the rest will be passed out through your urine. Women generally need about 75mg of vitamin C daily, and it’s advisable not to consume more than 2,000mg of vitamin C in a day or you’ll risk diarrhoea or cramps. 

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Guardian Vitamin C 1000mg + Zinc 10mg - studies have shown that the combination of zinc and vitamin C is particularly effective at helping your body fight off viral infectious diseases, such as the common cold. Retailing at Guardian for $10 per box of 45 tablets. 

#2 Take the correct supplements for your age and lifestyle needs

Yes, we all know that calcium is essential for good bone health, but unless you have a specific health condition or are following a special diet, you really don’t need to be taking calcium supplements before the age of 50. 

Shawn gives another example: “For those who are vegetarians, they may be deficient in vitamin B12, iron and calcium that are found in meat and dairy products. They could consider taking such supplements to close the gaps in their nutritional needs.” 

That said, one supplement that you can consider is iron. “For ladies in their 20’s or 30’s, iron supplements might be beneficial especially for those with anaemia or heavy menstrual bleeding,“ Shawn adds. 

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Sangobion Capsules, an iron supplement in an easy-to-swallow capsule that is vanilla scented and doesn’t leave a metallic aftertaste. 

Promotional price: $12.30 (save 35%) for a box of 28 capsules. 

#3 Go for a health screening and speak to a healthcare professional

So you eat healthily, stay active and don’t have anything to worry about right now. That’s great! However, it might still be worth speaking to a healthcare professional to ensure that you stay in good health. After all, ageing affects all of us in one way or another. 

“One way to determine whether you need to take health supplements is through health screening. Prevention is better than cure; it is good to get screened early to better understand your health. Your results will show if you are deficient in certain vitamin(s) or mineral(s),” says Shawn.

 Photo from Guardian

Try: GreenLife Deer Placenta, which contains nutrient-rich growth factors to help support cellular restoration, energy levels and glowing skin. 

Promotional price: $35 (save 50%) for a bottle of 60 capsules. 

#4 Maintain a healthy diet

Just because you’re taking vitamin supplements does not give you an excuse to not have a balanced diet! Supplements are designed to be used in addition to a healthy diet - not replace it. 

“Although multi-vitamins may supplement your body with the vitamins and minerals that are already found in fruits and vegetables, you will be missing out on the dietary fiber and other natural benefits from fruits and vegetables,” Shawn cautions.

One vitamin that you might need right now could be vitamin D, especially if you’re WFH and staying indoors all the time. Experts have recommended that we get sun exposure for about 5 to 30 minutes twice a week to get an adequate amount of vitamin D. 

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Blackmores Vitamin D3 1000UI, which is made with Cholecalciferol, a naturally occurring form of vitamin D. 

Promotional price: $10.50 (save 50%) for a bottle of 60 tablets. 

#5 Know which ingredients or nutrients work in synergy with your supplements

Probiotics have been quite hyped up in recent times, and for good reason too. Research has shown that the right amount of “good” bacteria in your gut is directly linked to your immune system and helps prevent diseases. 

However, if you’re just taking probiotics on their own, there’s a chance that they’re not surviving in your gut. Probiotics feed on prebiotics - a type of dietary fibre found in vegetables and fruits. If your prebiotic levels are low, the probiotics that you’re taking won’t have the energy required to work their magic. 

Shawn elaborates further: “Some vitamins such as A, D, E and K are fat-soluble. This means they are better absorbed when taken with food.”

“For vitamins such as B and C which are water-soluble, they are better absorbed when taken on an empty stomach.”

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Teazen Kombucha Berry, which contains both probiotics and prebiotics for good gut health. Available in citron, berry and lemon flavours.

Promotional price: $6.50 (save 40%) for a box of 10 5g sachets. 

#6 Take your supplements at the optimum time

Supplements are of no use if the nutrients are not effectively absorbed by the body. “It is important to ensure that you take the supplement in a timely fashion for optimal absorption in the body,” adds Shawn. 

His advice? Don’t take supplements with coffee or tea as caffeine may reduce the absorption of certain minerals and also increase urination, causing water-soluble vitamins like B or C to be passed out more quickly. To be safe, space your supplements at least two hours from your last drink of caffeinated beverages.

It is also advised to take fish oil or iron supplements after food, especially when they are consumed in higher quantities, as they may upset your digestive system when taken on an empty stomach. 

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Shinya Koso Daily Digestion Enzyme, which contains active ingredients to maintain the health of your digestive system, allowing you to fall into a deep sleep easily and burn more fats while you sleep. 

Promotional price: $25.90 (save 35%) for a pack of 28 tablets. 

#7 Take note of possible drug interactions

If you’re on any other supplements or medication at the moment, it’s always good to ask a healthcare professional before you add anything else to your current routine. Some combinations of supplements can decrease the overall effectiveness, while others can result in undesirable side effects. 

“Do not combine taking calcium and iron together. Studies have shown that taking an iron supplement together with a calcium supplement or a calcium-containing product may reduce the absorption of iron. It is recommended to space them apart by at least two hours,” says Shawn.

Other combinations to avoid include calcium and levothyroxine (used to treat hyperthyroidism), and zinc with certain types of antibiotics, such as tetracyclines and quinolones.

Still unsure? Head down to Guardian, where you can get the opinion of a professionally-trained pharmacist before buying any health supplements - how convenient! 

 Photo from Guardian

Try: Kinohimitsu Bird’s Nest Korean Red Ginseng, a TCM-based supplement that nourishes your body with natural ingredients. 

Special promotion for the month of November: $45.90 per box of 6 x 75g bottles, buy 1 get 1 free. 

As with anything related to health, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional. Shawn lists down three general rules to remember when taking any form of health supplements: 

  • Always ask a trusted healthcare professional like your pharmacist or doctor before taking a health supplement 
  • Be cautious of false information on the internet, do consult a trusted healthcare professional to verify your information if needed
  • Take some time to study the product information label of your supplement before taking them. Do immediately see a doctor if you suspect you are having an allergic reaction or if you are feeling unwell after taking the supplement

*Promotional prices are happening from 18 - 25 November.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please seek advice from a healthcare professional if you have any questions. 

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Text: GirlStyle SG


This post is brought to you by Guardian.