Just a spoonful of ...  helps the medicine go down!     written by Tessa Jupp
Got too many tablets to swallow?

Not only do we have possible swallowing difficulties to contend with but what about the size of some of those tablets we are asked to swallow . . . and how many can I actually force down my throat before I am really  -  sick!

I get quite a few people looking at the list of what they need to take, whether it be medications from the doctor or vitamins and minerals that they need, and saying - I simply canít do this. 

So how can we do to help. WHEN TO TAKE WHAT
OK - as a general rule of thumb, if we think, take everything on an empty stomach, we wonít go far wrong.  Minerals and amino acids will be better absorbed if not competing with food for absorption sites in the gut.  Vitamins can be taken with or after food so this is another option.

If we think of the nutrients like bags on the conveyer belt at the airport after a flight, you have to have the bag pass close by to be able to grab it.  If there are too many bags or too many people it whizzes past and we miss it.  There are a limited number of absorption sites at various places in the gut for the various nutrients.  So less competition will enable more absorption.  Remember that good levels of all the different vitamins and minerals are needed in the system as each depends on the other eg Vit A needs zinc and fats to allow absorption and to transport it.

However calcium, magnesium and iron are all absorbed in the same part of the small intestine and calcium and magnesium use the same gates, so are better taken at different times.

And just to confuse us, zinc competes with copper and iron for absorption and calcium lowers zinc intake.  Zinc does not build up in the body as any excess is excreted.  So it needs to be taken on a daily basis like vitamins.  Zinc and molybdenum can lower excess copper levels.  Molybdenum can interfere  with iron.  Vitamin E and iron need to be taken 8 hours apart.

Take zinc at night if you have problems sleeping (it calms a racing mind). -  If you wake and can't get back to sleep, try taking an extra zinc 220mg then.
Magnesium and Vitamin C need to be taken twice a day as one dose will not last 24 hours and too much at once will give diarrhoea. 

A good clean out every so often doesn't hurt, but you lose the benefit of other supplements taken, if it all moves through too fast.  You can also create an electrolyte imbalance with persistent diarrhoea and need to take Gastrolyte (at the Chemist) to rebalance.

Powders can usually be mixed together in a little water to drink.  Our concentrated magnesium powder does not dissolve so spoon onto the tongue and wash down with water.  If magnesium makes you sleepy you may need to take less in the morning and more at night.

All minerals need stomach acid to break them down so they can be absorbed.  So take your minerals with Vit C, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or hydrochloric acid tablet to get more benefit from what you take.  Chelated or colloidal minerals are better absorbed.

Fibre foods (ie grains) bind minerals to phytates in the fibre so that they canít be absorbed.  So do not eat foods like toast, bread, biscuits, pasta, rice, etc at the same time as taking minerals.

If you have a lot of tablets to take, split them up and take say, minerals before and vitamins after, a meal.  Take some at another time of the day ie 2 or 3 times during the day if they make you feel too full to eat.  Supplements are to compliment foods not to replace eating.  Spread them out more if you need to.

Set yourself a regular time to take them eg before breakfast and before going to bed.
Donít take prescription drugs and nutritional supplements at the same 
time.  Leave an hour or two in between if possible. (or 30 - 45 mins) 

If you canít remember if you have taken your tablets or not - maybe use empty bottles to put the morning or evening doses in.  Or label bottles for each day of the week.  (And take more zinc and Vit B12 for memory.)  If you are in a hurry to get somewhere you can grab the appropriate bottle and take it with you to take later.

Swallowing is easier if we use warm or room temperature water, not cold.  Donít throw the head backwards when swallowing.  It is easier to swallow with the chin tucked in to your chest.  It may be easier if you turn the head one way or the other.  And remember that the water we take with our pills can be as important to us as the pills themselves.

Taking a hard-to-swallow tablet with something milky helps to coat it, making it easier to slide down without getting stuck.  This could be warm cocoa or milky tea. (use a milk substitute if milk is a problem, eg sheep or goat milk, rice or oat milk, nut milk, coffee whitener.)  These are all alkalising though, so you need to follow this with something acidic, like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar or a hydrochloric acid tablet.

If necessary crush your tablets and put them in something, like yoghurt, custard, mashed fruit.

If you find taking tablets is becoming a real chore, promise yourself a reward for being good.  This could be a special piece of fruit, chocolate, cake, biscuit, or something else you really want to do or to go.