Is it okay to take all of my vitamin and mineral supplements together, or should I split them up somehow?
January 4, 2011 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Is it okay to take all of my vitamin and mineral supplements together (list follows), or should I split them up somehow?

I take the following supplements every day:

1 multivitamin
1 B-complex tablet
3 Calcium/Magnesium/ Zinc tablets
1000 mg of vitamin C
2000 mg vitamin D
130 mg elemental iron (ferrous sulfate)
500 mg chelated magnesium

Is there anything in that list that shouldn't be taken at the same time, for whatever reason?
posted by Rula Lenska to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Calcium blocks iron absorption. Space those out.
posted by zsazsa at 2:59 PM on January 4, 2011

IANAD but you're taking a hell of a lot of vitamin D with a multivitamin? A multivitamin that covers most of your RDA for most of the recommended vitamins and minerals should be more than enough. Adding vitamin D on top of that can do bad things to your liver, so I'm told, and to name one example.

The calcium is probably OK, if you're a woman with bones (I know I am) and depending on how much of your RDA they provide.

I don't know anything about this, of course. But combining all that extra stuff with a multivitamin could be storing up trouble for yourself.
posted by tel3path at 3:01 PM on January 4, 2011

Calcium should be split into three doses. Link confirms what my physician told me. I am unsure about the others, but I am guessing it should be spread throughout the day for best absorption and to avoid stomach upset. YMMV, IANARD.
posted by 6:1 at 3:02 PM on January 4, 2011

Be sure to eat before you take any of these.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:04 PM on January 4, 2011

Take the magnesium at bedtime. It can make some people sleepy.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone who's answered so far.

I know that the average person doesn't really need to supplement, but I'm not average. A little background for those who are interested:

I take the first 4 items on the list because I drink a LOT. (I got this recommendation from a dietician specializing in nutrition for current and recovering drug and alcohol abusers.)

Blood tests revealed that my vitamin D and iron levels are so low that they're virtually nonexistent. (I live in the Pacific Northwest and avoid the sun even when it is out, and, well, I'm a woman of childbearing age.) My doctor recommended these dosages. (She also wrote me a prescription for 50,000 mg of vitamin D once a week for several weeks about a year ago.)

I take the magnesium because some studies have indicated it's useful in treating depression. I take prescribed meds for that as well, but the magnesium seems to help, too, and the doctor said it can't hurt (magnesium is a laxative if you take enough, so it's hard to overdose on it).

Liver function is fine, perhaps surprisingly. Haha.

tl;dr - I am at nutritional risk, which is why I take these supplements.
posted by Rula Lenska at 3:27 PM on January 4, 2011

My aunt, who knows a lot about drugs and drug interactions as part of her job, assures me that for most supplements (we were talking especially about calcium) taking them in big doses all at once is a waste- they won't get absorbed. Always space them out and always have some food in your stomach.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:30 PM on January 4, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, meant to add that I have been taking the first 4 items on the list for years and years, and still had iron and vitamin D deficiencies, as noted.
posted by Rula Lenska at 3:32 PM on January 4, 2011

50,000 mg is 50 grams. That's nearly two ounces. Please double-check your figures. In any case, maximum daily dosage shouldn't exceed 4000 i.u (100 mcg), so even if you mean mcg or iu instead of mg, you're still absurdly in excess and risking toxicity.
posted by holterbarbour at 3:35 PM on January 4, 2011

How much actual ferrous sulfate are you taking? Like what's the size of the pill?

If you're anemic you may want to switch to a more absorbable form or start taking it with an acid/vitamin C.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:51 PM on January 4, 2011

Response by poster: Ooh, I meant 50,000 IU for the vitamin D prescription, not mg. (Toldja I drink a lot.)

I know it's a lot, and it was prescribed weekly for 8 weeks, which is not uncommon when deficiency is as low as mine was.
posted by Rula Lenska at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2011

Response by poster: The ferrous sulfate is about the size of an aspirin tablet. I take two each day, usually with the vitamin C.
posted by Rula Lenska at 3:53 PM on January 4, 2011

Best answer: NLM's Medline Plus Herbs & Supplements page is useful for interactions with other drugs & supplements, as well as what side effects to watch out for (take with a grain of salt - they list ALL kinds of side effects).

Don't take iron supplements with calcium or dairy products. Calcium decreases iron absorption, but vitamin C increases it.

From personal experience - I was getting nausea and weird stomach aches at first from the iron pills (300mg/day). My pharmacist recommended taking the iron pills at night, with orange juice or vitamin C but otherwise an empty stomach. You sleep through most stomach grumbles. Plus this avoided the dairy products I love at breakfast :)
posted by SarahbytheSea at 3:55 PM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Here is an article about Vitamin D toxicity. According to it, 2,000 iu daily is not likely to cause you any problems. Just a counterpoint.
posted by fancyoats at 4:44 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

No, I meant was the tablet 325mg of iron with 130mg of iron as ferrous sulfate?

Because if that's so, that's definitely a therapeutic dose and you're fine on that one.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:42 PM on January 4, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. SarahbytheSea, that's exactly what I needed!

I posted impulsively from work, and listed these pills from memory. Clearly, I should have waited until I got home and actually looked at the bottles so I wouldn't be confused--and confusing--about the actual dosages. (Vitamin D is in IU, not mg, on all bottles; iron is 65 mg per tablet, equivalent to 650 mg ferrous sulfate, etc.)
posted by Rula Lenska at 6:55 PM on January 4, 2011

Toss out all the vitamins except vitamin D. Go to the store and buy a bunch of veg and fruit in different colors. Need magnesium and calcium? Chew some spinach. ...that will actually take care of the iron, too. Need vitamin C? Eat some grapefruit.

I'm not being glib - most vitamin supplements a) just aren't absorbed by our bodies (again, D is the exception) and b) shouldn't be needed if you are eating properly. Changing your diet will give you the vitamins you need as well as other nutrients (healthy sugar, fiber).

The fact that you are on so many different vitamins tells me that either your diet is *extremely* poor or that you are simply adding chemicals to your diet that will do nothing. Your doctor should really have discussed your dietary habits if you were so deficient in these vitamins - if they simply said "take some pills" I would honestly look for a different doctor.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2011

Whoops - just re-read your original post and saw you admitted to being at nutritional risk (aka poor diet). Most vitamin supplements will barely correct this and will simply drain your wallet. Seriously, discuss nutrition of actual food with your doctor.

Vitamins in Veg

Vitamins in Fruit
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 5:09 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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