This is a HOT topic, and a question that I get really often. So let’s talk about it!
To set it up, the best time of day to take vitamins is determined by absorption and when your body will best absorb vitamins/ nutrients and when we won’t interfere with other medications that are being consumed.
Generally speaking, when to take vitamins isn’t a super straightforward question since everyone’s body may react differently to various supplements; but I want to give you some general guidance so that you can better decide what might be the best time for you (*unless your dietitian or healthcare provider has told to explicitly when is the best time to take yours).
One important thing is that it’s key to take your vitamins AROUND the same time every day. Our bodies exist in rhythms, so various nutrients you may be getting through your vitamins and supplements might be helping your body to exist even MORE in that rhythm. Example: if you decide to take your multivitamin with dinner which is between 6-7pm, try to do that everyday rather than sometimes taking it with dinner and sometimes with breakfast. To put it simply, stay consistent.
Now let’s move on to the details…
First and foremost, I’ll address the most important part of this, which is whether to take supplements with or without food.
Some vitamins should be taken with food, and some should be taken without food. This has to do with optimizing absorption, minimizing potential side effects such as stomach upset, and allowing your body to get the most out of your supplements.
**Note that some supplements may interact with prescription medications, so always be sure to read labels carefully and speak with your doctor or a pharmacist if you have any concerns
Keep in mind that the supplements outlined in this post are not all required to take, but are examples of common supplements and the guidelines associated with them.
Here are nutrients/supplements we recommend taking with food:
- Any of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. (*unless they are packaged with a lipid – will usually be in a gel cap. If so, you can skip the food with these)
- Minerals-includes things like calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, zinc, potassium, selenium. **Note that iron is absorbed best when taken with a meal containing vitamin C, such as citrus, berries, broccoli, kiwi, and bell peppers)
- Multivitamins (more on this later- but mostly because they can upset people’s stomachs so they’re better tolerated like this)
- Omega 3- helps with absorption to take with food
- Turmeric/Curcumin-taking with food containing black pepper will help enhance absorption even further
- Any CBD products
- Fiber supplements-take with a large glass of water
- Plant compounds and herbs such as marshmallow root, aloe vera, slippery elm
Here are nutrients/supplements we recommend taking on an empty stomach:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- 5 HTP
- Adaptogens (can be taken either here or with food)
- Nutrients for hormone balance (i.e. vitex, reishi, saw palmetto)
- Anything aimed at gut health/ healing the gut (with the exception of probiotics)
- Herbal antimicrobials for SIBO
- A gut-health supplement blend such as GI Revive by Designs for Health
Supplements to take before bed- regardless of how empty your stomach is (or full!):
- 5HTP (one dose in AM, one in PM)
- Night rest
- Magnesium/ calcium for sleep purposes
Now as for the time of day, this has to do with how the nutrients interact in your body and the processes that they affect.
Here’s an example schedule:
First thing in the morning:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Probiotic (take up to 30 mins before breakfast)
- Any supplements geared towards gut health
- Adaptogens (ashwaganda, rhodiola, reishi etc)
- Minerals (Iodine, Zinc, etc)
- Omega 3
Mid-day (with lunch or a snack):
- Fiber supplement
- Calcium/ magnesium
- Any fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, or K)
- Omega-3’s (if you take a second round)
- 5 HTP (also beneficial for sleep)
- Magnesium (for sleep purposes)
Lastly, remember to stay well hydrated. Fluids will help all supplements be able to dissolve properly and be used by the body, so aim to always take with a tall glass of water.