Top 10 Reasons Your Supplements Aren't Working, and How to Fix It
The last thing you want to encounter is feelings of frustration that your nootropics aren’t working. When you have high expectations that something will work as well for you as it does for others, it’s understandable to be frustrated when you don’t experience similar results—or sometimes even opposite results! The big question is: why does this happen? Below is what you need to know to make sure you’re getting the most out of your supplements.

#1—You Need Cofactors

One of the top reasons why your supplements may not be working for you is a lack of associated cofactors. A cofactor is an accompanying part of what a supplement needs to become activated or used more effectively by the body (such as Vitamin K and magnesium for best Vitamin D absorption). If you’re taking a supplement and notice your levels or results aren’t changing, take a look at what cofactors you may be missing.

#2—You Don’t Absorb It Well

Some people don’t absorb certain types of supplements through no fault of their own. Most supplements have to work their way through the digestive system first, and everyone’s digestive environment and bacterial populations (called the gut microbiome) is different. The microbiome can be changed by dietary habits, inflammation, and the use of certain prescriptions, so absorption problems can be part of the problem when you’re not seeing results from your supplements. Accordingly, if you’ve been using a certain supplement for a long time and then realize it’s not working as well as it once did, check to see if anything has recently changed in your dietary habits or history that might have changed your microbiome.

#3—You Need a Different Formulation and/or Type

Some supplements need to be delivered in a way that keeps the compound intact as it travels through the digestive system, and sometimes the formulation of whether it’s in capsules or tablets makes all the difference. For instance, Vitamin D3 is best taken in a softgel capsule along with an oil carrier, whereas other supplements may not need such specifics. As well as delivery methods, you may need a different form of the supplement. Magnesium oxide isn’t as well absorbed as other types of Magnesium (citrate, glycinate, etc.). Check for the different types of the supplements you’re using to see if you might be short-changing yourself by using a form that is less effective.

#4—You May Be Depleting Something Else You Need

When everything is functioning perfectly in the body, it’s in a state of equilibrium. Sometimes the best intentions to correct or improve something result in an imbalance of the equilibrium. For instance, supplemental zinc can disrupt copper levels and vice versa. It’s possible that you may not be experiencing the results you were looking for because you’ve inadvertently disrupted a balance somewhere else in the body. This can mask any progress you’d expect to see. Some “smart compounds” put additional strains on the resources of the brain and body because they may require cofactors themselves. It’s not uncommon to see a depletion of choline, as one example. Sometimes you’re simply using up your reserves and not taking time to replenish them.

#5—Your Supplements are Competing for Absorption

With some supplements, your body can’t multi-task. There are certain nootropics and supplements that need to be taken separately from one another to give the body adequate time to process and utilize them. This can be confusing when you take multi-formulas. Calcium and magnesium need to stay in balance with one another, but they compete for intestinal absorption when taken together. In this instance, it would be beneficial to continue to take them in a balanced ratio but space it out by 2 hours or more. A hugely overlooked reason for supplements not working is the use of a fiber supplement. A fiber supplement is great for helping the body, but certain fiber supplements generally restrict the absorption of supplements, herbs, and medications due to the bulking and moving effect of these supplements. Rather than nixing your fiber supplement, space it out from your other supplements by at least 2 hours or as directed by the fiber supplement manufacturer’s recommendations about this.

#6—Your Genetics May Be to Blame

No matter how much you may try to use a supplement, your genetics are going to play a part in how well it works for you. You may be predisposed to a vitamin deficiency, a food intolerance, or have a hereditary absorption trait that makes it harder for you to get the same results as the next person. If you’re interested in seeing if this could be a contributing factor or want to tailor your health routine, consider taking health and nutrition-oriented DNA test (which is different than just a test to research your family tree).

#7—You May Be Flushing Them Down The Drain or They’re Trapped Inside

Water-soluble supplements and nootropics are a common culprit for this one. It will pay off for you to understand if the supplement you are taking is water or fat soluble. Vitamin B12 is a big example of a supplement that is excreted very quickly as a water-soluble supplement. The body can only process and absorb a certain amount of supplements before it discards the rest. If you’re trying to take a supplement that’s water-soluble, you may be taking too much at one time for your body to process. Try spacing it out throughout the day instead. If you’re taking a fat-soluble supplement, realize that some of it will be stored in the fat tissue within your body. This doesn’t mean that it’s activated and ready to be used. Some of it can stay trapped in your fat tissues; so the amount of body fat you have impacts how much is going to be retained in the body.

#8—You’re Taking Too Many Supplements

More is not always better with supplements. It’s better to choose a few high-quality supplements you truly understand than to load up on supplement routines that are excessive. With certain supplements like adaptogens, it’s even recommended to cycle them and give the body periods of rest between them. This is especially important for some smart enhancing nootropics. Tolerances may occur, and the body shouldn’t be forced to process excessive amounts because it will backfire. Instead of pushing yourself to your absolute limit, you may end up exhausting your adrenal glands and overworking your liver—finding yourself at the bottom instead of at the top.

#9—You’re Using Low-Quality Supplements and/or The Dosage Is Inaccurate

With this one, it’s important to know that quality control and assurance has to be at the top of any list if you’re using any supplements or nootropics. Some supplements have been tested and were found to have way more or way less than the amount represented on the label. Choosing a vendor who is transparent and has a high level of quality control is paramount to ensuring that your supplement/nootropic experience is the best it can be. Pure Nootropics takes this extremely seriously, which is why you’ll find our third-party testing lab and quality control measures are second to none. If you’re using supplements from other companies, check out sites like Consumer Lab who offer unbiased testing of some of the most popular supplements you’re likely to find in retail stores. You may be surprised at the discrepancies in how much is actually in a supplement versus what the label says! You can be assured that all Pure Nootropics products are analyzed, batch tested, and weighed so that what you expect to get is what you’ll find.

#10—You Forgot Supplements are Supplemental!

The biggest and last reason why your supplements may not be working for you is because no matter how accurate, well-formulated, and tailored for absorption a supplement or nootropic is: it’s still a supplement. The basis of the word supplement means that it should be used as an add-on to an already conscious lifestyle that begins with proper nutrition, physical activity, stress relief, and an established relationship with a healthcare practitioner you trust. If you want to take your mind and body to the next level, you must first seek a secure foundation that’s rooted in acquiring what you need outside the bottle. You’ll find your nootropics and supplements work better, and you’ll get to your goals much faster when you treat supplements as an add-on rather than magic. Cognitive enhancement can be found in many ways beyond supplements. For more tips about how you can work with what you already have, check out our blog post about Productivity Hacks!


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