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I am taking Vital Iron Complex, when is it the best time to take it – morning or evening? I also need to take something for energy and to calm down to sleep at night. What would you suggest?

- Bhavna / 21 February 2012


Hi there

You can take it whenever it suits you – it doesn’t matter what time. Just don’t take it on a full stomach, or at the same time as calcium pills, or with milk or tea/coffee because those factors could inhibit absorption.

If you are taking iron, I assume it’s for iron deficiency anaemia which you have been diagnosed with? This will make you feel very fatigued, so, if you’re taking them & still not feeling better then you may need a higher dose or different format. However, if you’ve only just started taking them – give them a few weeks to really do their job!

It’s important to identify why you’re tired all the time. It can be, aside from a busy lifestyle or iron deficiency

  • a side effect of medication,
  • not eating enough,
  • eating too much ‘junk food’ (refined sugars, fatty foods, etc)
  • eating too little nutritious foods,
  • poor sleep,
  • depression,
  • ongoing stress,
  • underlying infection that doesn’t clear up,
  • various illnesses,
  • low thyroid function,
  • blood sugar imbalance, etc – the list is endless.

It’s best to ask your doctor to test your blood for iron and thyroid problems, as well as check your blood pressure and blood sugar (and insulin)
There are a few things that I would definitely recommend (take the first 2 together):

1. A high-dose vitamin B complex (e.g. Vital Maxi B). B vitamins are extremely important for your nervous system to function correctly and for energy. If you are stressed you use up even more B vitamins than normal, so it is very important to take a supplement. Take 1 capsule daily after food. Most people will benefit from taking these all the time. Stress can definitely contribute to constant tiredness and to difficulty falling asleep.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. Vital Omega 3 Concentrate) are also essential for nervous system function. It is almost impossible to get enough of these in our diets these days, so it’s important to take a supplement. Take 1 – 2 capsules daily after food.
3. A multivitamin & mineral supplement, (e.g. Vital Gold). This would be optional if you still don’t feel better with the above two.

Sometimes people can feel tired all the time because they actually aren’t sleeping well. If this is the case, try putting 2 – 3 drops of Lavender essential oil (e.g. Burgess & Finch) on your pillow at night and/or in your bath before bedtime. Lavender oil is relaxing and lifts the mood and has been shown to help with sleeping.

I also suggest a cup of chamomile tea or 2 in the late afternoon – evenings as this really helps with relaxing, calming, soothing, and sleep. You can sweeten with honey or sugar.

A healthy diet is of the utmost importance when you’re feeling stressed out or constantly tired. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. I understand it can be difficult these days, but try to set aside food for work, and make sure you at least have healthy snacks with you like seed bars, nuts & raisins, little yoghurts, etc. Stress plays havoc with your blood sugar levels, and yet the more unstable the blood sugar is the more stressed you will feel: a vicious cycle. Try to eat 3 balanced meals per day, and two snacks with some protein (nuts, yoghurt, cottage cheese, etc) and fruit. The nutrients in fruit and vegetables are needed for good general health. Try Fruit & Veg City as they often have special offers on fruit & veg at very affordable prices (you can maybe go halves with a friend). Avoid drinking too much coffee (1 cup maximum) as caffeine raises blood pressure and heart rate, and drains energy over the long term, which worsens stress. Avoid sugary foods, sweet fizzy coldrinks and too much fried fatty food, as these are very low in nutrients, bad for general health and destabilise blood sugar. Drink 6 – 8 glasses of water daily, as this helps keep you alert and flushes out excess stress hormones.

Exercise is also very helpful (even if you may not feel up to it at the time) – try yoga as this has been shown to reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being. Or take 5 minutes to stretch when you wake up in the morning, half-way through the day, and when you get home – breathe deeply while doing it as many people don’t breathe properly, causing tiredness. Walking also helps by getting the circulation going, giving you fresh air and improving sleep at night.

Have a look at this article on fatigue for more info: Flat tired? | Vitalise

I hope this helps!

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Hi, I’m Michelle Jooste.

As a registered dietitian, I can help you find the ideal combination of supplements that will support your needs. I’m ready to answer all your nutrition-related questions.

Just ask away, and I’ll get back to you within 2–3 business days.

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