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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Johnson Compounding & Wellness on Supplement Savings

Oct 31, 2022 09:31AM ● By Wendy Nadherny Fachon

People are tightening up on personal spending, and, to offset rising electricity and gas costs, many of them are deciding to cut back on herbals and supplements. Which supplement could they drop? Which should be kept? Which supplements actually do what they should do? Are the supplements being taken at the proper time, in the proper dose and/or in the proper combination with one another to optimize their benefits? Which supplements might be a waste of money? And finally, how can people assess their supplementation regimens to make wiser spending decisions?

This is a topic of concern to Gary Kracoff, RPh, a registered pharmacist with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He provides in-depth consultative services at Johnson Compounding & Wellness, in Waltham, Massachusetts, helping patients improve their supplementation protocols and sharing tips on economizing.

One simple example is combining zinc with quercetin to prevent or mitigate cold and flu symptoms. Quercetin improves cellular absorption of zinc by three to four times. Fewer zinc pills are required, translating into cost savings. Quercetin is a plant flavanol found in many fruits, vegetables, leaves, seeds and grains. Quercetin will push the zinc into the center of the cell where it can stop a virus from reproducing. Quercetin can be purchased as a supplement or consumed by eating lots of red onions and kale.

There are other strategies for improving supplement absorption and saving money. Kracoff recommends separating the ingestion of minerals and the ingestion of fat-soluble vitamins by at least one hour. Calcium and magnesium are minerals and vitamins D, K and E are fat soluble; these should not be taken at the same time. A coating of oil in the gut, whether from omega oil supplements or cooking oils, will prevent absorption of calcium and magnesium. Water soluble supplements are better taken with water an hour before eating to improve their effectiveness.

Kracoff also indicates anti-inflammatory supplementation as another area where people can economize. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herbal supplements, such as curcumin and Boswellia, are taken for many different reasons, ranging from a temporary sports injury to chronic arthritis. The required dosage, frequency and duration will vary with each individual’s situation. Do antioxidants need to be taken every day? Maybe not. Antioxidants are often marketed to make people feel better and live longer. If that is the reason for taking the supplement, Kracoff suggests taking it for five days and skipping for two days. He suggests the same pattern for multivitamin use. These changes are something to consider when wanting to economize on supplement spending and to receive adequate benefits.

Not all supplements deliver on their promises. Formulations can vary in quality and effectiveness. Johnson Compounding & Wellness was one of the first independent pharmacies of its kind to have a dual focus on natural medicine. It offers a full range of homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements and natural products, and it takes great care in choosing the products that it sells to its customers.

By supporting the principles of integrative medicine, Kracoff, Registered Dietitian Alora Frederick and the other pharmacists work closely with patients and patient providers to offer a personalized “whole person” approach to medicine. They ask a lot of questions and encourage the customers to ask questions, too, to optimize the safety, effectiveness and affordability of supplement protocols and compounded prescription fulfillment.

Location: 577 Main St., Waltham, MA. For more information about Johnson Compounding & Wellness products and services, call 781-893-3870 or visit

Wendy Fachon is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings and host of the Story Walking Radio Hour on the Dream Visions 7 Radio Network. Visit to find and download informative and entertaining environmental podcasts.