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What Is the Best Time to Take Your Vitamins?

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What Is the Best Time to Take Your Vitamins?

While some people choose to take their vitamins after waking up, others may take them at various points later during the day or with meals. If you have been taking vitamins for a while or are looking to start taking them, you may be wondering what the best time of day is to do so. It is time to finally get the answer to the question: when is the best time to take your vitamins?

The truth is, it depends on which vitamin you are taking. While some vitamins are best taken in the morning, others are better absorbed if taken with meals or certain food items. In this article, I will look into when it is best to take some of the most common vitamins.

For Water-Soluble Vitamins

If you are taking Vitamin C or any of the eight B vitamins—B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), or B12 (cobalamin)—your vitamin is what is known as “water soluble.”[1] These vitamins are absorbed in water, meaning that you do not need to take them with food to be absorbed. Therefore, any time is a good time to take these vitamins!

One of the nice things about these vitamins is that your body stores what it needs and excretes the rest through your urine. This means that there is no benefit to taking more than the recommended dose of these vitamins, so stick to the label recommendations.

If you are specifically taking Vitamin C, something to consider is that it may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. This is because it increases the acidity in your stomach. Although you can take Vitamin C supplements at any time of the day, research shows that taking Vitamin C supplements with food may help to decrease unwanted gastrointestinal side effects.[2]

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For Fat-Soluble Vitamins

In contrast to the water-soluble vitamins discussed above, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. This means that rather than being absorbed in water, these vitamins are absorbed in fat.

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency is rare, but if you are taking a Vitamin A supplement, it is important to take it with a fat-containing meal to promote absorption.

2. Vitamin D

Many adults take Vitamin D supplements as Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, and many of us are spending less time in the sun, which is how our bodies synthesize Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune function. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that Vitamin D absorption was about 30% greater in those who took the supplement with a fat-containing meal.[3]

If you are looking for the best Vitamin D supplement, you can check out this article where we rank the top 10 Vitamin D supplements to help you choose which is best for you.

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E

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is found in many foods, however, certain groups of people including those with Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome may need to take a Vitamin E supplement to prevent deficiency. It is typically recommended that these supplements are taken with a meal. However, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Vitamin E may not need to be taken with a meal, so long as you eat enough fat at subsequent meals.[4]

4. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is another nutrient that is typically found in the diet, so deficiency is rare. If you are taking a Vitamin K supplement, it is recommended that you do so with a fat-containing meal.

Something to note about fat-soluble vitamins is that, unlike water-soluble vitamins, they are not simply excreted if your body has enough stored. This means that it is more likely to develop toxicity of these nutrients. Therefore, it is imperative that you stick to the recommended dosage of these vitamins and follow up with your doctor while taking these supplements.

Multivitamins

Multivitamins are extremely popular, as they contain a mix of vitamins and minerals. They are more convenient than taking various vitamins and minerals separately and can be less expensive. They also come in pill and gummy form and are easily found in most grocery stores or pharmacies.

Because multivitamins contain both fat-soluble and water-soluble supplements, it is typically recommended that you take them with a fat-containing meal to promote optimal nutrient absorption.[5]

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Prenatal Vitamins

During pregnancy, your body needs a sufficient amount of iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C.[6] Doctors commonly prescribe prenatal vitamins to help women who are pregnant to meet their daily needs of these nutrients.

While some of these nutrients can be taken at any time of the day, iron is a bit more particular. Your body absorbs iron best on an empty stomach, so it is best to take any vitamin containing iron, such as a prenatal vitamin, early in the morning.

Iron also has a few food interactions to keep in mind. It does not absorb correctly if you have recently eaten dairy but absorbs better if taken with Vitamin C. Having a beverage that contains Vitamin C, such as orange juice, first thing in the morning to wash down your prenatal vitamin may help to improve absorption.

Calcium and Fiber

While not a vitamin, calcium is a commonly taken supplement. Many of us do not drink milk or eat dairy products, so it is important to get our calcium elsewhere. Calcium is incredibly important for bone health, so a supplement may be indicated if you are not getting enough calcium in your diet.

As mentioned above, calcium can interfere with iron absorption. It can also interfere with the absorption of zinc and magnesium.[7] If you are taking a calcium supplement, be sure to take it at a different time than zinc, magnesium, or iron supplements.

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Fiber is also a supplement that is commonly taken to help with gastrointestinal regularity. Fiber is a nutrient that may also interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. This means that if you are taking a fiber supplement, you will likely want to do so apart from other supplements. The Washington Post recommends that you take your fiber supplement before bed if you are not taking any other supplements at that time.[8]

In Conclusion

The best time to take your vitamin supplement truly depends on which vitamin you are taking. Unless you are taking a fat-soluble vitamin, it may be best to take your supplement first thing in the morning. However, if you are taking Vitamin A, D, E, or K, it may be beneficial to wait a bit and take these vitamin supplements with a fat-containing meal.

As always, be sure to follow up with your doctor when you decide to start taking a vitamin supplement to make sure that it is appropriate for you and that you are taking the correct dosage for your body.

More About Vitamins And Supplements

Featured photo credit: Kalos Skincare via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Samantha Klig, RD

Registered Dietitian

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