April 09, 2020

When Is The Best Time To Take Vitamins?

Americans religiously take their vitamins. Perhaps even more religiously than they regularly practice religion. A recent Gallup poll found that roughly half of Americans take a daily vitamin or supplement to boost their nutrition and health. Another survey found that only 37% of Americans regularly attend religious services (weekly or near-weekly). So, that means that over a hundred million Americans have the daily habit of taking some supplements to benefit their health. But is there a way that they could be getting even more bang for their buck spent on vitamins by merely knowing the best time of day to take their daily health booster? The human body is a walking amalgamation of repeating chemical reactions. The cycles and timing of some of the most fundamental functions of our bodies can be incredibly important to understand when trying to supplement your nutrition with vitamins effectively.

Another factor besides the time that will always affect how and when you should take your vitamins is demographic factors specific to you. A forty-five-year-old man's daily cycles and vitamin needs will be considerably different than that of an older woman. Perusing common deficiencies or vitamin needs for your sex and age group can be a helpful place to start before doing anything else. 

But when is the best time to take your vitamins? Is it when you wake up? Is it lunch? Maybe before bed? Unfortunately, there is no boiler-plate answer to this. There are, in fact, different answers for different vitamins. There are also a few vitamins that should not be taken together as they can nullify each other’s effects. 

There is no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, if you need to take supplements to boost your nutrition, then let’s make sure you do it correctly and in a way that doesn’t waste your hard-earned money!

Why Do People Take Vitamins

People all take vitamins for the same basic reason; to supplement their body’s supply of crucial nutrients that may not be found, or be found insufficiently in their diet. Doctors agree that even those with the most exemplary diets can still benefit from receiving supplemental nutrition. Vitamins and minerals aid some of the body’s most fundamental and important functions. Deficiencies of crucial vitamins can lead to all sorts of highly serious health consequences up to and including death. This is why taking your vitamins properly and in an informed fashion can seriously benefit your health.


Multivitamins are one of the most commonly taken vitamins. Many Americans take these at the recommendation of their physician to supplement the nutrients they already receive from whole foods in their daily diet. 

Multivitamin supplements can have a lot of different compounds in them and can thus upset a users’ stomach quite easily. Also, maintaining consistent levels of the vitamins in your bloodstream throughout the day is more beneficial, then getting the dose all at once and having your levels quickly peak and drop.

For these reasons, experts think it is best to split a multivitamin in half and also to take it with food. So, taking half your daily multivitamin with breakfast and another half with dinner would achieve the maximum benefit. Good thing GEM is easy to cut into, huh?

Vitamin D

Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, you will achieve the highest benefit when eating with foods that have a high-fat content. One study found that if you take your Vitamin D supplement with the largest meal of the day, then your blood levels will be up to 50% higher than if the supplement is taken on an empty stomach. 

One thing to always be aware of when taking Vitamin D is that if you take these supplements with antacids such as Alka-seltzer or H2 acid reducers, it can significantly interfere with the body's absorption of Vitamin D. 

B Vitamins

These vitamins can be taken for a variety of reasons. One thing to keep in mind about the vitamins in this group is that they absorb at a higher rate when taken on an empty stomach. Taking these vitamins, like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6, first thing in the morning can absorb high absorption and can also provide a little boost to help you wake up. The boost in energy that these vitamins can cause can make it difficult to fall asleep if you take them to close to bedtime. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has many health benefits and is one of the most commonly taken vitamin supplements. Unlike Vitamin D, Vitamin C is water-soluble. This means it is difficult for your body to store vitamin C for an extended period of time. Since it is water-soluble, it is usually flushed out of the body relatively quickly. This property of vitamin c makes it the best practice to spread dosing consistently throughout the day. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C will severely diminish if the blood-levels do not stay consistent. Avoid taking Vitamin C in one large dose. Instead, spread small doses consistently across the day for the greatest health benefit. 

Vitamin A, E, and K

These vitamins are fat-soluble like Vitamin D. Thus. Similarly, it is best to take these supplements with large meals. Taking them with large amounts of food will significantly increase the efficiency with which your body absorbs these essential nutrients. 

Taking Selenium with Vitamin E can significantly increase the efficiency of absorption as well. Once you figure out your optimal daily regiment (and times), it is crucial to stick to it religiously. Studies have found that people who are consistent in their vitamin regiments have a higher chance of getting health benefits.

Prenatal Vitamins

There is perhaps nor more vitamin decision to be sure of than that of taking prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women have a multitude of nutritional needs that most people do not. Doctors almost always advise pregnant women to supplement their nutrition with prenatal vitamins. Mothers wishing to give their child the best head start will take the time and effort to ensure they are taking their prenatal vitamins with the most exceptional efficiency. 

Prenatal vitamins are nearly always multivitamins. So, some of the same advice applies. Taking a prenatal vitamin before lunch will maximize the bloodstream levels throughout the rest of the day. 

The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) states that any good prenatal vitamin should contain the following elements.

  • Calcium supplement
  • Iron
  • Folic Acid

Since it is difficult to absorb iron when one has consumed dairy. It is generally best absorbed with an empty stomach. If you swallow your supplement with a beverage that is high in vitamin C, like orange juice, you can get your rate of absorption even higher. Many prenatal vitamins have instructions that simply recommend that the user should simply take them on an empty stomach with a full glass of water. 

Women can be allowed some discretion with exactly when to take vitamins. Perhaps, if morning sickness is particularly acute, a woman may choose to take her prenatal vitamins at night on an empty stomach. As long as broad guidelines are followed, then a woman's comfort should undoubtedly factor into the daily timing of the regiment.

The most important part of taking prenatal vitamins is to take them consistently and every day because their benefits accumulate over the length of the entire pregnancy. 

Proceed With Caution and Consult Your Physician When Taking Vitamins

As you can see, how and when you take your vitamins can be almost equal in importance to if you take them. Though vitamins are taken by tens of millions of Americans every day and are considered mostly safe, they are not regulated to the same degree and high standard that prescription and over-the-counter medications are. The Food and Drug Administration regulates vitamins as supplements. This effectively means that vitamin manufacturers can put any claim on their product, and it does not have to be verified by the Federal Government. Outrageous claims made by some vendors will likely draw the ire of the private market and shift demand toward more reputable market actors. However, it is still imperative to proceed as an informed consumer. Picking reliable vendors can mean the difference between buying products that do not accurately represent their contents and may contain contaminants and excellent products that do not. 

Use common sense when selecting your vitamin providers. Check the internet to find customer reviews. Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau? Have you read their mission and what they’re about? Does it match up with your health goals and standards? Has the company been sanctioned publicly before for making false claims or for their products containing contaminants?

Always Loop In Your Doctor

The internet is a miraculous thing, and it is a great place to find general information. However, there is no substitute for consulting a physician for medical advice regarding which nutritional supplements meet your particular needs and deficiencies. If you are truly serious about getting your health and wellness game up to snuff and ensuring your body has the nutrients it needs, then you should take a micronutrient test. These tests can give your physician precise levels of the compounds your body needs to identify your particular needs. 

Image by Elena Koycheva/Unsplash

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