How to Overcome Difficulty Swallowing Supplements

Filed Under: Nutritional Support, General Health
Last Reviewed 02/29/2016

How to Overcome Difficulty Swallowing Supplements

If you find it hard to swallow pills, including vitamins and other supplements, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of Americans have difficulty swallowing pills, mostly due to an oversensitive gag reflex. Here are some tricks you can use to help stop your gag reflex and overcome difficulty swallowing supplements.

Tricks to Stop Your Gag Reflex

  1. The next time you take your vitamins, try drinking from a water bottle. Keep your lips pursed and attached to the bottle at all times and use a sucking action to drink. This will trigger an automatic opening of the throat and the natural urge to swallow, allowing the pills to go down smoothly.

  2. Put one or more capsules in your mouth along with a mouthful of water and bend your head forward. (Your instinct is to tilt your head back, but that constricts your throat, exacerbating the gag reflex.) Since most supplements are in capsule form, they are light and buoyant in liquids, so, more often than not, the pills will float to the back of your throat and swallowing them will be a breeze.Yes, this technique sounds a bit odd, but it really works. 

  3. Take several sips of water prior to taking your pills to moisten your throat. Swish the water, along with your supplements, around in your mouth. Be sure the water is room temperature or cold. Washing pills down with a warm beverage can dissolve the capsules before they leave your mouth, which can impact the potency of the nutrients.

Still having difficulty swallowing your supplements? I don’t normally recommend crushing tablets or opening capsules because they can quickly lose their potency, but if that’s the only way you can take your supplements, please do so. If you find the taste disagreeable, mix the capsule contents or crushed tablet with a cold food, such as yogurt or mashed banana.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have a pill-swallowing tip you can share?

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DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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