Supplement Dosage: Does Body Size Matter?

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This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

Getting the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health can be extremely difficult through natural diet alone. Even some foods that appear to be obvious whole foods can lack in the essential nutrients due to widespread soil depletion caused by over-farming.

The nutritional content in everyday food becomes even less pronounced the more processed it is, and in the quick and hurried age of pre-packaged meals and fast food convenience, it’s almost impossible to get everything the body needs without taking some form of supplement. Around 75% of Americans use dietary supplements – and for good reason. However, not all supplements are the same, and many factors go into how much and how often those supplements need to be taken.

Supplement dosage for body size

Supplement dosage by weight will vary greatly. Because weight plays a huge role in the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals for optimal health, weight is one of the biggest factors that should be taken into account when choosing and dosing supplements.

Supplement labels generally outline a one-size-fits-all dosing system, but body weight plays an important role. In the specific case of vitamin D, one study showed that those who were overweight or obese according to their BMI had significantly lower levels of vitamin D in their body following the treatment period than those of their underweight or normal weight counterparts. This outlines the correlation between weight and specifically fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D: these can be stored in our fat tissues and lead to lower levels of their circulating active forms, as the majority of our body’s storage is trapped.

Supplement dosage based on gender

The dosage needed per day for essential vitamins and nutrients also differs depending on the sex of an individual. The supplement dosage for males, for example, is quite different than females, not just because of average size, but because men need things that women do not and vice versa.

For example, calcium is needed by both men and women, but the supplement dosage for females will have much higher values in a women’s multivitamin than a man’s. One of the biggest differences in multivitamins for men and women is iron, because women tend to lose a lot of iron during menstruation – thus they need an extra dosage to keep their iron levels in check. Men and women are also susceptible to different cancers, so multivitamins may contain different levels of compounds that could help ward off these diseases.

 

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Image by Brandless on Unsplash: Knowing what the body needs will help decipher which vitamins to supplement diet with.

Supplement dosage by age

Certain multivitamins also market themselves for older adults because as people age, the amount of nutritional deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can grow. Therefore, older people need higher or lower amounts of certain things to help the ageing process go as smoothly as possible while maintaining an overall level of health.

Specifically, as people age, their body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and vitamin B12 becomes compromised. Supplements made for ageing adults will have higher levels of these vitamins to assist the body in its absorption and make up for lost nutrients over time.

Choosing the right supplements

Going into the vitamin aisle at a local pharmacy can be nothing short of overwhelming due to the sheer number of brands and types of vitamins available. Supplements often come in pill form, either in sublingual form (melt under the tongue) or capsules to swallow whole. They can also come in powder form, liquid form and chewable tablets.

Liquid and powder supplements are often good to take if you need a personalised amount of the vitamin or mineral – for example, if you’ve been told you are deficient by your doctor following a blood test.

 

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Image by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash: Taking a multivitamin can take the guess work out of supplements but not all are the same. 

 

Water-soluble vitamins are also not stored in the body the same way fat-soluble vitamins are. This means that it’s unlikely that a person can have too much of a water-soluble vitamin in their body, leading to complications. When it comes to fat-soluble vitamins, however (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), build-up can be dangerous if it reaches high levels.

Name brands and no-name brands often have the same ingredients, so choosing based on a name doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting a better vitamin. Always read the label to ensure the dosage amount is correct for you and what you need.

How to dose supplements

It’s also important to know where your levels are before choosing a supplement. If you are not deficient in vitamin D, for example, supplementing too much with that vitamin can be dangerous. Also, if your levels are particularly low in something and you are unaware, taking the recommended daily dose may not be enough.

Choosing the right dose of supplements also depends on lifestyle. In a busy, fast-paced lifestyle, it might be hard to take vitamins in liquid form because they aren’t as convenient. It’s also important to remember the absorption rate (bioavailability) of supplements when choosing a dose. The factors that determine bioavailability differ from person to person depending on their age, digestive system, overall health, sex, and what time of day the supplement is taken.

The average range of absorption of different vitamins and minerals can vary greatly depending on the chemical combination in which the mineral or vitamin is presented. Knowing the right amount for you is crucial in deciding how much of the vitamin you need per day and how much of the caplet, liquid or powder form your body will actually absorb.

Featured image by Brandless on Unsplash