Stop taking your pills like this - here's the best position to be in, according to scientists

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  • There's a best - and worst - way to take a pill, researchers say.
  • After testing four different postures, the team found taking a pill while lying on your right side works best.
  • This is because it shortens the time it takes for the medicine to be absorbed.

When you have a headache and pop a pill, the position you’re in is probably the last thing on your mind. 

But for the fastest absorption, your posture actually plays a very important role.

According to the findings of new research, being in the wrong position affects how fast your body absorbs the medication - in some cases, it can take an hour longer for the stomach to dissolve the pills.

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In a news release, senior author of the study, Rajat Mittal, a Johns Hopkins engineer and expert in fluid dynamics, explains: 

“We were very surprised that posture had such an immense effect on the dissolution rate of a pill. I never thought about whether I was doing it right or wrong, but now I’ll definitely think about it every time I take a pill.”

So what’s the best position?

After testing four postures, the team found that leaning to your right side was by far the best for fastest absorption. 

It’s the first time scientists have created this kind of model, named StomachSim, which simulates how pills and tablets dissolve in the human stomach and how they are released into the upper intestine.

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The model showed how tilting to the right sent the pills into the deepest part of the stomach, so much so that it achieved a dissolution rate more than two times faster than being in an upright posture.

taking pills
Pills taken while reclining on the right side land closest to the lowest part of the stomach, where the pill contents dissolve and are ejected into the intestines for absorption.

Surprisingly, a pill taken while learning to the right takes 10 minutes to dissolve, while it could take up to 23 minutes to dissolve in an upright posture, they found.

The worst position when taking a pill is lying on the left side: it can take over 100 minutes to dissolve.

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You may not feel a sense of urgency for certain medications and supplements, such as vitamins, to dissolve quickly. But the speed of absorption of certain medications, such as those controlling blood pressure, can have serious consequences if it takes longer to take effect.

“For elderly, sedentary or bedridden people, whether they’re turning to [the] left or to the right can have a huge impact,” adds Mittal.

The findings were recently published in August in the journal Physics of Fluids.

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