How to Take Supplements

Richard Helfrich Health and Nutrition Expert

How To Take Supplements

By Richard Helfrich

You now understand the concept that supplements, when taken correctly, are the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc., that insures the body meets its nutritional needs without having to depend on food that may or may not have the needed nutrients. Taking supplements in the concentrated, measured doses does not guarantee that they will actually be available to the body in a usable form.

As with food, it does not matter how great the quality or how healthy it might be if the body cannot realize the nutrient benefit because digestion does not take place. If this does not occur, then we’re just eating for pleasure. This applies equally to supplements that require digestion and those that do not.

The vitamins and minerals that require digestion need food to be the catalyst that triggers digestion. Taking these supplements on an empty stomach, as many people do, realize none of the desired nutrient benefit. In many cases, all that is realized is a nauseous, upset stomach. Even though the vitamins and minerals are in a concentrated form, they are still bound in molecular structures or compounds that need to be reduced by digestion before they can be assimilated. Additionally, most nutrients, whether those that need to be taken on an empty stomach or those requiring digestion, do not work alone. Single nutrients need the synergy of other vitamins and minerals to act as catalysts, cofactors, coenzymes, etc., in order for them to be activated and utilized by the body; nothing acts by itself in the body. This applies to getting nutrients into the body and once absorbed into the blood stream. It is a constant and critical interplay of nutrients, enzymes, coenzymes and other cofactors that is required to produce the internal chemistry.

Probably the best way to explain this is by example. The following is what I consider to be the type of daily routine that covers what nutrients should be taken, when they should be taken and how they should be taken.

I want to warn you. This daily schedule requires some effort and discipline. If your goals are those that I outlined earlier in the book of feeding your body so that it can repair, rebuild and defend itself, then I doubt you will be disappointed by the results seen in 30, 60 or 90 days, or even the sustained results realized over one year. I have always achieved the desired result with this daily routine and recommend it to everyone. It is the antithesis of the one a day vitamin pill theory, or what I euphemistically refer to as pabulum for the masses. Unfortunately, the aspirin theory does not work if your goal is to feed the body. To achieve this requires some effort on your part to adapt to the body’s protocols for how and when it accepts and utilizes nutrients. Most people who take supplements, realize nothing out of them and this should not come as a surprise, if you understand how the body works. There are a lot of experts out there who will tell you this is nonsense, that the stomach is capable of sorting out all the nutrients and directing them where they need to go. Interesting theory, but not based in fact on how the body functions.

The road to health, as I see it, is achieved one day at a time with the keyword being maintenance, maintenance and maintenance. As I mentioned earlier, you must feed your body everyday the 70% that it takes to function in a healthy manner. This 70% comes from outside sources (food and/or supplements). With the daily bombardment of bacteria, viruses, pollution, chemicals, parasites, etc., you need to give you body either the antidotal remedies to neutralize these pathogens or toxins (covered in later chapters), or you need to give your immune system extra support so that it is not exhausting itself from putting out what I refer to as “grass fires.” Most individual immune systems have nothing left at the end of the day to do their primary job of rebuilding and repairing the body. This only takes place while we sleep.

I encourage you to try this daily routine that I have outlined. Different types of nutrients and formulas may vary depending on the condition being addressed. Always be aware that you need to incorporate them into the daily routine so their intake and effectiveness is insured. The sample daily routine, outlined here, is a basic maintenance program. You can add to it by addressing your specific concerns, based on analyzing your blood work and referring to the chapters on what antidotal remedies to take.

What To Take And When To Take It

The following is a guide to various nutrients with a reference to their properties and what they do for the body. Also I have indicated how and when to take them. As I discussed earlier in the book, most people realize little from the supplements they take because of taking them in a way that the body cannot access them. The categories are simple:

• Those that need to be taken on an empty stomach.
• Those that need to be taken with food (digested).
• Those that need to be taken as a specific group.

If you can follow this guide and select the nutrients that address your particular needs, there is a very good chance you will get the benefit out of taking them. In the previous chapters, I described the supplement schedule. In the next chapter, I give the specific supplements that can be taken.


The supplements that should be taken first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, are antioxidants and immune factors that arm the immune system and support it throughout the day. This gives the immune system the ability to neutralize all the “grass fires” without completely exhausting itself in the process. This is also when you take other water soluble supplements that build and repair soft tissue, connective tissue, collagen and the joints. It is also when you take free form amino acids, as well as B and C vita-mins.


Taking the probiotics and the gastrointestinal tract (specific) nutrients 30-60 minutes prior to a meal, allows for the recolonization of the intestinal micro-flora or friendly bacteria species that protect the intestinal and mucosal tissues.* Without the friendly bacteria to neutralize them, harmful fungus (yeast) and putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria will quickly overwhelm the intestinal tract, damaging the mucosal and membrane lining. Damage to the lining allows the unfriendly bacteria a gateway into the bloodstream, resulting in free radical mutagens and carcinogens that contribute to diseases, such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, liver disorders, autoimmune diseases and immune suppression. *(Reference Chapter 8, “Things To Be Aware Of,” in Immune Re-sponse).

At the same time, I recommend taking a number of constitutional nutrients that feed and rebuild the intestinal lumen (lining) along with the total GI (gastrointestinal) tract. You will recall my mentioning that there are 200 different cell types in the body, each with specific nutrient needs. This is a good example because the GI tract makes up some of those cell types and requires specific nutrients in order to stay healthy.

There are a number of theories as to when to take probiotics or friendly flora. Most products suggest taking 20-60 minutes after a meal so that the stomach acid is buffered by the food. I prefer to take the probiotics prior to a meal like lunch, when the stomach pH is more neutral. They should be taken with the other GI tract nutrients I recommend.


This should be the biggest meal of the day because this is when the body is running at its peak. This is also when the body goes from a morning detox mode of wanting to flush itself out to now wanting fuel that it has to digest. These nutrients consist of the building blocks of the body. These are also the hardest for the body to access, due to their large molecular structure, or because they’re trapped in larger compounds that require the digestive process to take place in order for the body to break them down to a size that can be assimilated. We also know the things that can interrupt digestion i.e.: sugars, bad food combining, not chewing food (masticating), over hydration or not producing enough hydrochloric acid (protein splitting) or other enzymes necessary to break food down and carry it into the body. So always remember these rules if you want your body to get the benefit of the food and supplements you take at lunch. Otherwise, as mentioned earlier, you’re just another statistic of someone that is taking supplements or eating the right food while getting little or nothing out of it.


These are the essential fatty acids that I recommend taking one half to two hours after lunch. They do not need digestion by the stomach and their emulsification and intake is in the small intestine, so you want to introduce them into the stomach as it is getting ready to pass the contents into the duodenum (first stage of the small intestine).

Essential fatty acids are vital to many metabolic reactions in the body and structural components of brain, nerve, skin tissue and cell membranes. The skin like the brain is a fatty organ, and it requires a constant supply of EFA’s to keep it healthy, supple and wrinkle free. Besides the contribution to the body’s metabolic function through the production of hormones like prostaglandins, EFA’s contribute and influence immune response through the proliferation of immune cells, allergic conditions and autoimmune conditions.

With the EFA’s I recommend other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E for its constitutional plus antioxidant and immuno-enhancing properties. It is an essential constituent of all cell membranes and plays a dual role in protecting cells from free radical damage. You also need to include other fat-soluble nutrients, such as coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10), lycopene, phosphatidylcholine and other phospholipids from lecithin. This is also when to take ferritin the most bio-available form of iron and major iron storage protein in the body.

"A truly amazing book that covers it all."

The 24 Hour Body
by Richard Helfrich

The 24 Hour Body is an owner’s manual to the body. This book answers the important question: What are the daily nutrient needs of the body?