Selected Podcast

Ask Dr. Mike: Does Diet Impact the Viability of Supplement Intake?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

Should I purchase a brand supplement, or is a generic supplement the same quality?

Dr. Mike suggests the brand supplement over the generic brand. Yes, you'll be paying a little more, but you're paying for the quality and trust.

If I need to include just one supplement into my daily routine, what should it be?

Dr. Mike suggests taking a multivitamin, since it's the best for your overall health.

What is the optimal time of day to take my supplements?

The best time of day is the time you can remember. When it comes to taking a supplement, compliance is key. So, whatever time works for is the best time to follow to take your supplements and stick to it. Dr. Mike jokes that if you don't take, it doesn't work.

Does my diet impact my viability of my supplement intake?

Yes. If you're consuming the standard American diet (which is typically high in fat, animal protein, sugar, preservatives), and you think that just by taking a handful of supplements you can override this diet, you're setting yourself up for failure. Without a healthy diet, you're asking the supplements to work through gunk, and they just won't succeed.

In order to get optimal benefits from your supplements, you need to make sure you're eating wholesome and healthy foods.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.877.711.5211) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 6, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

It's time for you to be a part of the show. Email or call with questions for Dr. Mike now. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call: 877-711-5211. What are you waiting for? The doctor is in.

Alright. So, here's what I want to do for this last segment for today with these questions. I'm going to try something a little different. This is not going to be easy for me because I like to talk and I'm already talking a lot.

I have a series of 8 questions here that I'm going to try to give just boom, quick answers to and we'll see how I move through these. So, let's get to this.

The first question is: "Should I purchase a brand supplement or are generic products of the same quality?"

Okay. Good question. I think you should buy the brand supplement. It's a little bit more, but I do believe in the supplement industry, you do get what you pay for. There are—I've mentioned this before—twelve to fifteen supplement companies--established brands--that have been around for a long time.

They produce and manufacture awesome products and that's who I buy from. I don't buy from online things. I don't buy from generic companies, these fly-by-night companies that are just trying to make profit off the latest and greatest nutrient. So, I do believe, in my opinion, it is best to stick with the brands that have been around for a long time, like 10 plus years or 20 plus years. Something like that. If you want a list, go check out my book, The Supplement Pyramid. I have a listing of those companies that I like to use. Okay. There's that one. Use the brands. Okay.

"If I am only planning to include one supplement," Oh, this is going to be hard for me to do quickly. "If I am only planning to include one supplement into my daily routine, what should it be?"

No. This one is easy for me. A multivitamin. Come on. At the end of the day, I know that we need the basic vitamins and minerals. I know what they do. I know how important they are and I know that if you don't get these vitamins and minerals, not only can you get all kinds of problems, you start developing diseases of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

So, don't poo poo a basic multivitamin. It may not be sexy. It may not be the latest and greatest, but a high-quality, daily multivitamin is the best bang for your buck when it comes to just overall health. A multivitamin. Good.

Next question.

"What is the optimal time of day to take my supplements?"

Well, the best time of the day is the time that you can remember. Compliance is really the issue here. Okay, there are some rules--soft rules. You know what? When it comes to protein supplements like amino acids, take those on an empty stomach. So maybe right when you get up. Certain hormones like DHEA are best on an empty stomach. So, I take that one right when I get up. I take that one in the morning. Things that are done on an empty stomach, I tend to do right when I get up in the morning, right? But, that's just how I do it. I guess you could wait between lunch and dinner and take some of those if you wanted to. So, really, for me, this isn't a question about what we call pharmico or neutro kinetics which is the study of how drugs and nutrients enter your body, how they're metabolized, how they're eliminated. This is really more of a question that goes to compliance.

I'm going to tell you something and this is going to blow your mind. It's one of the most amazing things I've learned. I've been in this industry for about 10 years. I've been in medicine for 20 plus years, medical school, residency, pharmaceutical companies, Life Extension. I've been doing this a long time and here's the one thing that I know—it's the only thing l know for an absolute fact.

Absolute fact. Here it is. Are you ready? If you don't take it, it don't work. Yes. Isn't that amazing? All that money I spent to get my degree. If you don't take it, it don't work. It's true. It's the one thing I know for a fact. So, really, this kind of question is, when is the best time for me to do it? It's the time that you remember. It's the time that works for you because if it's hard to do, if you develop a regimen that's hard to follow, compliance goes down and then you're not taking it and then I know for a fact it's not working.

That's not just with supplements, that's with drugs as well. You know, I remember when HIV was first being treated. It was multiple drugs having to be taken at multiple times and the cocktails worked, it was just too hard for people to do it. Compliance dropped and the drugs didn't work even though the chemicals in the drugs actually could fight the virus.

So, they had to figure out a way to make it easier on people. Compliance is really key, right? We've got to do things, we've got to develop regimens that we can actually do and accomplish. So, yes, you've got to figure out a schedule that works for you and stick with it and that's going to be the optimal time for you. For me, personally, empty stomach stuff, I do in the morning. The rest of my stuff that I can do with food, I do at lunch and dinner and I split it up. I have some supplements here at work. I have some supplements at home. It's that simple. Okay.
Next question. That was a little long.

"How do I..." Oh, I'm going to skip that one because that one is way too long. So, I'm already not doing what I told you I was going to do. Alright. I'm going to go to this one: "Does my diet impact the viability of supplement intake?"

Yes. Okay. Let me answer that on two levels. If you're consuming the Standard American Diet, SAD. It's very sad. High fat, high animal protein, not lean animal protein, very little plant-based food, lots of simple sugars, not a lot of fiber, lots of preservatives. That kind of stuff.

If you're eating that type of diet and you think taking this handful of supplements over here is going to help you overcome that bad diet, you're just setting yourself up for failure. You're asking the supplement to do something that it just can't do. Pharmaceuticals can't even help that, okay? So, diet comes first. You have to improve your diet.

If you improve your diet and move away from the Standard American Diet and you're eating more plant-based, lean proteins; you're getting 8, 9, 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day; you're moving away from anything processed; eating fresh fruits, you're buying your groceries on the outside aisles of the supermarket, not the inside aisles with the pre-packaged stuff--If you're doing that, now you're going to allow those supplements to do what they need to do for you, right? But, if you're eating bad stuff, you're asking those supplements to work through all that gunk and that's just making it really difficult.

So, on that level, diet absolutely affects how well these supplements are going to work for you, the viability of supplements. But, I think this person is talking more about are there certain foods that might slow down absorption of supplements. I think that's maybe what they're asking more about here and the good news is, no. For the most part, no, because supplements are based on nature—natural things. You know, if you're doing a multivitamin with vitamins and minerals and you're eating fruits and vegetables and a little bit of lean meat and stuff like that, well, those same vitamins and minerals are in that food. So, the food you're eating, because the supplements are natural--they come from nature--isn't really going to disrupt how they're going to be absorbed and stuff.

Now, you can't say that about chemical prescription drugs. There are certain foods that can disrupt how they're absorbed and distributed throughout the body. But, for the most part, not with supplements. Now, the one class of supplements that that might have an issue here are the protein based supplements—the amino acids. Those really should be done on an empty stomach. If you eat some food and take some amino acids or supplements, it's not going to hurt you, it's just not going to absorb as well.

So, that's about maybe the only caveat to what I just said is that amino acids should be done on an empty stomach. But, no, supplements are pretty much based on the stuff that's in your food anyway, so you're okay there. Isn't that awesome?

I did that pretty good. I didn't get through all of them, but not bad.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.