by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
In a perfect world, a balanced diet would be able to provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs, yet even healthy eating can fall short due to the amount of food you’d need to eat to get all your daily micronutrients. Multivitamins help bridge these gaps, though proper usage is crucial. What most people don’t realize is that the timing of vitamin intake can impact their effectiveness. That said, when is the best time to take vitamins? Not just a multivitamin but all the other common supplements Americans take daily.
Some vitamins are best taken in the morning with water, while others work better with meals or at bedtime. Taking vitamins is a valuable habit at any age. Research shows nutritional deficiencies affect both physical and mental health. Vitamins enhance overall well-being and prevent deficiencies that can impact health issues (both physical and mental health). However, knowing the optimal timing for maximum benefits is crucial.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the advantages of common vitamins and get a better understanding of when is the best time to take vitamins to maximize their benefits and results.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition plan or supplement regimen.
When is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?
The best time to take vitamins depends on what you are taking. There is no hard and fast rule that there has to be ideal timing when it comes to taking vitamins, but to get optimum results, it is best to take certain vitamins at specific times.
Below, we will go through each of the common vitamins and nutrients and the best time to consume them.
Multivitamins encompass both fat- and water-soluble vitamins, constituting a comprehensive assortment of nutrients, hence the name.
According to a study, in the United States, approximately 40% to 50% of individuals aged 50 and above include multivitamins as a part of their routines. It is recommended to take multivitamins with a meal and ample water. This approach facilitates optimal absorption by your body. Taking multivitamins during breakfast or before sleep is best if stomach issues arise. The key is to maintain a consistent routine for the best results.
2. B Vitamins
B vitamins come in two forms:
- Individual B vitamin supplements
- B complex formulas with all eight B vitamins.
Since they’re water-soluble, you can take them with or without food, so you have some flexibility in their timing. Many suggest that B vitamins should be taken during the day as they play a vital role in energy and nutrient metabolism. If your B12 levels are low, taking it this way with water helps enhance absorption.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C serves crucial roles in the body, acting as an antioxidant and supporting immune, collagen, and neurotransmitter functions. Vitamin C supplements come in various forms, like ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids, liposomal C, and calcium ascorbate. Ascorbic acid supplements have a similar bioavailability to dietary sources. Supplements can be taken at any time, with/without food. Having ascorbic acid with meals may reduce potential stomach effects due to its acidity. You’ll want to store them in a cool and dark place due to their sensitivity to heat and light.
Daily doses above 1,000 mg aren’t usually necessary, except for specific cases like high-dose IV treatment. Remember, vitamin C is water-soluble, so having it with water is wise. Timing doesn’t matter much — just watch your stomach sensitivity.
4. Vitamin D
As vitamin D dissolves in fat, there’s a common belief that taking it with a meal can help it be better absorbed by the body. But here’s an interesting twist. A small study investigated whether having vitamin D with food could actually speed up its absorption. The outcome was surprising — those taking higher doses of vitamin D supplements and low-fat meals seemed to experience a more effective absorption rate.
5. Vitamin A
Given that vitamin A is fat-soluble, consuming it alongside a meal, particularly one that includes a serving of healthy fats is advisable. For adults, the suggested dietary intake ranges from 700 to 900 micrograms. It’s crucial to understand that, unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body’s fat reserves. Thus, surpassing the recommended amount could result in accumulation and potential toxicity.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
Omega-3 supplements are versatile for any time of day. You may improve absorption by taking them with a fat-containing meal, like avocado or whole-fat milk. Omega-3 (EPA & DHA), known as fish oil, is crucial for heart, brain, and growth support. You can avoid acid reflux by splitting doses into morning and afternoon. Remember, coupling omega-3 intake with a fat-rich meal optimizes absorption, reducing side effects and enhancing effectiveness.
7. Prenatal Vitamins
Pregnant and breastfeeding women can find added value in incorporating prenatal vitamins into their routine, given their intensified need for vital nutrients. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that pregnant women or individuals under medication should consult with their doctor before introducing any vitamin or mineral supplements. The best time for women to take prenatal vitamins is in the morning, as a part of their daily routine.