How long does it take for Supplements to take effect?

food as medicine

In our fast-paced world, we want immediate results and that is especially the case with vitamins and supplements.

Many people take health supplements or natural health products and expect immediate results, and if they do not experience results within a week or two stops drinking these health supplements. 

However, the time between starting to take a supplement to feeling or seeing an impact will vary depending on a variety of factors that impact vitamin absorption – from the type of supplement you are taking to the ways certain nutrients interact with each other in the body.

Unlike medications, which are designed to treat an existing problem, vitamins are designed to proactively support your health.

Factors that can impact the way our body takes up vitamins and minerals

1. Severity of your deficiency.

Everybody’s biochemistry is different and the length of time before you feel a tangible benefit will depend on your body and what it needs to feel at its best.

If you are extremely deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, it could take longer to rectify the deficiency. Alternatively, you may require a higher dose to help you recover to those levels faster.  If you are taking them because you have been diagnosed as deficient in a specific vitamin or mineral , it can take much longer to build back up to optimal levels.

2. Nutrient pairings

All nutrients need other nutrients for their absorption and utilization. Many vitamins and minerals are interrelated in how they work. A good example of this would be the relationship between vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so if you have low levels of vitamin D, you will struggle to maintain a healthy calcium level.  Plant-based iron is best absorbed when paired with vitamin C, and vitamin B6 relies on zinc to function optimally.  Curcumin (the key compound in turmeric) is very poorly absorbed unless taken with Piperine, which increases absorption by 2,000 per cent.  

This pairing system works both ways. For example, zinc and copper compete with one another for absorption in the small intestine.  When paired together in a supplement, you may end up with less copper absorption, as the recommended intake for zinc is higher than copper.

3. Lifestyle and habits

Certain lifestyle factors and habits, such as drinking alcohol and smoking, can cause malabsorption and require a higher intake to maintain an equilibrium.  Caffeine can block the absorption of certain nutrients such as vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.


So how long should you wait to make a decision on whether a supplement is working for you?

Three months should be long enough to assess whether you feel any benefits. But again, it depends on why you are taking vitamin supplements in the first place for example if you have been diagnosed as deficient in a specific vitamin, or you are just taking them as a precaution. Ultimately everyone is different, and regular testing will help to assess the impact the supplementation is having.

If you stop taking the vitamins but do not ensure that you have a healthy, balanced diet, blood levels of nutrients will decrease. Correcting low blood levels can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months

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