Will Your Supplements Work and How Long Will it Take?

The increased access to a lot of  health and wellness info has a lot of benefits, but it can also leave us feeling overwhelmed with options and with a medicine cabinet full of supplements that we tried for a couple of weeks and then stop wondering if they will work and how long it will take? We could also be guilty of taking way to many and not even sure if we actually need them.  Can you relate? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Because of this, two  questions I get asked a lot is  “Will this supplement really work?” and “How long will it take to notice a difference?” And they’re great questions!  Who doesn’t want to know what to expect and, ultimately, when they can start benefiting from their healthy intentions? Here are the six factors I consider when I manage my patients’ supplement regimens:

1. Your starting point

The first factor to consider when estimating how long it will take for you to feel different from taking a supplement is where your health was when you started it. All my patients are at different points in their wellness journey. For example, if your vitamin D or magnesium levels were really low when you starting taking vitamin D or magnesium, it’s going to take longer for you to start seeing improvements than the person who just had a slight deficiency.

2. Dosage

The next thing to consider is how much of a supplement you are taking. This is also tied to your starting baseline. I often see well-intentioned health seekers taking the right supplement but not taking enough for their issue. This leaves them feeling frustrated that they don’t feel any better, so they end up stopping the supplement. Sadly, if they were just taking a high enough dose for it to be clinically beneficial, they likely would have seen an improvement! This is why it’s always a good idea to work with a qualified medical practitioner to find out what dose is right for you (because it is possible to take too much of a supplement as well) so that you don’t waste your time and so you can stay safe and start benefiting as soon as possible.

3. Quality

The expansion of the wellness world is exciting, but it also can be overwhelming. Whole shelves devoted to the same kind of vitamin or herb can leave anyone feeling confused about which one is the best. A good rule is this:  you need  to read the label, look for any fillers or strange ingredients—like sugar, rice flour, or artificial colors—and consider both the potency and quality of the active ingredients. You could also ad them to a glass of warm water.  If they dissolve in 15-30 minutes then you can probably digest them.

4. Your individual needs

Just because a certain herbal blend worked for a friend doesn’t mean it’s right for you. We’re all different, and we all have different needs! Even if an issue seems the same to an untrained eye, an expert is likely to take a unique approach for each person.

5. Absorption rate

An often-overlooked issue to consider when determining how long to try a supplement is your body’s ability to actually absorb and use the nutrients inside the capsule. Many people have underlying gut problems that can inhibit their ability to fully benefit from a supplement. This also goes for systemic inflammation, which can inhibit cellular absorption of nutrients. If your body is not effectively absorbing nutrients, it can take a lot longer to notice improvements from supplements; in fact, you might not notice any changes at all until you deal with the underlying gut or inflammatory problem.

6. Food

You can’t supplement your way out of a poor diet, plain and simple. If you’re eating nutrient-poor foods but taking an herbal elixir, it’s like a drop of clean water in a murky ocean, and it’s very likely that whatever ailment you’re trying to fix will stick around. With that said, I am not talking about food perfection. Just remember that food comes first and supplements should be the targeted tools to take your wellness game to the next level.

So with all these factors taken into consideration, on average how long does it take to notice improvements from taking a supplement? The average person will notice a difference anywhere from one day in to four or eight weeks in—depending on how deficient you were in the first place. If you’re not seeing any results after eight weeks, it’s generally time to reevaluate and talk to a doctor.

So, back to the big question: Should you take vitamins? I believe that obtaining minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids from diets rich in from diets rich in lean organic meats and wild fish, lots and lots of veggies, green leafies,  high fiber fruits, a small amount of oranic non GMO grains, legumes and sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and nuts is the optimal route for nutrition. However, nutritional deficiencies are widespread with all dietary patterns, and certain disease conditions respond to supplements. Doing your research, identifying specialty providers of supplements, and asking for advice from health professionals with a focus on nutrition and micronutrients is wise. For me, I take high-quality supplements daily based on nutritional testing verified by follow-up testing.

I hope this article helps

Have a Happy and Healthy Week.

Dr Pia