Anyone can benefit from the use of nutritional supplements as long as they are used properly. But because the use of these dietary gap fillers and nutrient boosters is so new and quickly gaining popularity, there are still many unanswered questions about how dietary supplements can be used for maximum performance. For many athletes, body builders, and dieters, taking vitamin or mineral supplements can be an important component of their overall fitness levels. So how can supplement users decide what works best for them?

According to a recent interview in the New York Times with Dr. Sheldon S. Hendler, the co-editor of The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Nutrional Supplements, many nutritional supplement users benefit best from consistent usage, rather than a specific administering technique.

“What is important is that vitamins are taken when most convenient,” he said. “This best ensures that vitamins are taken in a consistent manner. Also, most vitamins should be taken with food, food that contains some fat.”

Although the water-soluble vitamins B and C can be absorbed when taken with food or on an empty stomach, vitamins A, D, E and K are most efficiently absorbed when taken with some fat. This is also the case with carotenoids including lycopene, Beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and fucoxanthin. He also added that certain calciums are best absorbed with different dietary modifications.

“Absorption efficiency of calcium carbonate on an empty stomach is poor and increases significantly when taken with food,” he said. “Calcium citrate can be taken on an empty stomach. Iron is absorbed best on an empty stomach. However, iron typically upsets the stomach and is usually taken with a small amount of food.”

Always consult your doctor before beginning any supplementation, as there may be certain combinations or nutrients you need to get the most out of your nutrition. With smart supplementation, regular exercise, and an overall sense of wellness, you can be well on your way to building the body that you’ve always wanted without any associated health risks.