Oral administration is the easiest and most common way to take medication, so why do so many of us get it wrong? While swallowing vitamins, minerals, and antibiotics may seem simple, the way you choose to inject them into your system can render them ineffective. Taking care of the counter and correctly prescribed medications should always start with just reading the instructions, but what else should you do to maximize the health benefits? Express.co.uk spoke to Shona Wilkinson, Certified Consultant Nutritionist at Nutrigums to find out.
Taking medication by mouth is part of everyday life for the majority of Britons, whether it’s a vitamin tablet or a daily medication used to control a long-term condition.
While some pharmaceuticals will have specific warnings about using food or alcohol while taking them, most products offer more vague advice.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, registered nutritionist consultant Shona Wilkinson said: “If you don’t take over-the-counter supplements as described, it could affect how you absorb the nutrients in the supplements, which which means you might not see the desired results.
“With medication you should always take the advice of your GP and follow the labeled instructions to reduce side effects such as stomach irritation and any other more serious side effects.”
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Drinking alcohol while taking oral vitamin supplements such as folic acid, zinc, thiamin, and vitamin B1 will prevent the body from absorbing these essential nutrients and minerals.
According to Keeley Berry, nutrition expert at Better You, B vitamins are most at risk of depletion and those who drink heavily are very likely to become deficient.
Keeley told Express.co.uk: “Vitamin B12, in particular, is known to support cognitive function, allowing us to feel energized and able to concentrate.
“So, as alcohol consumption contributes to the depletion of B12 in the body, we may begin to experience what is called ‘brain fog’.”
Although taking vitamins with alcohol renders your supplements ineffective, the effects of alcohol with antibiotics can be much worse.
Shona said: “You shouldn’t usually drink alcohol with antibiotics as it can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
“In more severe cases, some antibiotics can cause a reaction such as nausea and vomiting, so I would strongly advise against mixing alcohol when taking medications like this.”
What is the most effective way to take vitamins and minerals?
Oral supplements can be very effective when taken correctly, but are they really the best way to increase your intake?
Shona said, “We always say food first, but sometimes you don’t get enough nutrients from food alone.
“There are many cases where people are deficient – for example, women often suffer from anemia due to loss of red blood cells during the menstrual cycle – this may require adequate iron intake to ensure that you don’t not suffer the long-term effects of fatigue, low blood pressure and pale skin.
Many people who follow a plant-based diet find themselves deficient in essential vitamins such as iron and vitamin B12, which are found in eggs and meat. A herbal supplement can therefore help them obtain it elsewhere.
Shona added: “It is advisable to take a regular multivitamin and mineral as well as a vitamin D supplement in the winter, and depending on the condition you wish to treat, you can add more.”