The best time to take your vitamins

The best time to take your vitamins


Taking vitamins and supplements are a great way of ensuring that you’re filling nutrition gaps, and particularly if you’re immune-compromised in any way. If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a recommended time to take a vitamin, here’s what you need to know:

  1. To get the best out of your vitamins or supplements, take them consistently especially when you have a deficiency.
  2. Whether you take the vitamins/minerals with food is more important than getting the timing right.
  3. There is no scientific evidence that suggests that taking a vitamin at a particular time of day will enhance its effectiveness. However, there are recommendations that may help with absorption and reduce the risk of adverse effects.
  4. Consult with a healthcare professional if you are on any chronic medication as supplementation could interact with them.
  5. Everyone’s body absorbs and stores nutrients differently; bear this in mind when taking single-nutrient supplements and multivitamins.

Water-soluble Vitamins

There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, and knowing which category they fall into will determine when it’s best to take them.

Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that need water for absorption. The body does not produce and store these vitamins, so we need to get them from food. This type includes the B vitamins and Vitamin C. There are eight B-vitamins, and people tend to supplement with them to boost cognitive and physical energy; they can generally be taken at any time, although vitamin B6 could potentially interfere with sleep if taken at night. It’s recommended that water-soluble vitamins should be taken on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, with a glass of water.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that need fat for absorption. They include vitamins A, D, E, and K. It’s recommended that fat-soluble vitamins should be taken after eating foods that contain fat such as a meal cooked in oil, a scoop of peanut butter, or even small amounts of whole-fat milk or yogurt.

What about Multivitamins?

Multivitamins often contain both water- and fat-soluble vitamins, hence, there is no ‘right’ time to take them. If you take them on an empty stomach with water, then your body may not fully absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, and conversely, if you take them after food, then you may not properly absorb the water-soluble vitamins. Therefore, take them with a meal and water to ensure the fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed.

General Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Timing

The following are general guidelines. Some people may be more sensitive to some vitamins – for instance, vitamin C or zinc can cause an upset stomach. If this happens to you, take the vitamins with food as it only reduces absorption by a small amount.

MorningEveningWith FoodConsiderations
Vitamin A*
Vitamin B
Vitamin C**Can cause indigestion and nausea so take with food.
Vitamin D*
Vitamin E*
Vitamin K*
Magnesium**Helps with relaxation and sleep; taking magnesium on an empty stomach may have a laxative effect. Read more: Keeping it regular: How magnesium helps digestion
Iron*Dairy can block the absorption of iron. Vitamin C assists with iron absorption, so combine with vitamin C.
Zinc*Don’t take zinc at the same time as iron or calcium supplements. Zinc supplements may interact with some water tablets (diuretics), blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and immunosuppressants, so speak to a health care professional before supplementing.
Calcium**Stomach acid helps with the absorption of calcium carbonate.
Multivitamin**

Read more: Do I need to take a nutritional supplement?

Read more: What to consider when choosing a supplement


References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). The Best Time to Take Vitamins. Cleveland Clinic [Online]. Accessed on 18 July 2023.
  2. Fletcher, J. (2023). Is there a recommended time to take vitamins?. Medical News Today [Online]. Accessed on 18 July 2023.
  3. Heger, E. (2021). The best time to take vitamins and supplements for maximum absorption, according to nutritionists. Insider [Online]. Accessed on 18 July 2023.
  4. Kubala, J. (2021). When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?. Healthline [Online]. Accessed on 19 July 2023.
  5. Mount Sinai. (n.d.) Zinc. Mount Sinai [Online]. Accessed on 19 July 2023.
  6. Ohwovoriole, T. (2023). When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?. Very Well Mind [Online]. Accessed on 18 July 2023.

Disclaimer

These articles are for information purposes only. It cannot replace the diagnosis of a healthcare provider. Pharma Dynamics gives no warranty as to the accuracy of the information contained in such articles and shall not, under any circumstances, be liable for any consequences which may be suffered as a result of a user’s reliance thereon.

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