When is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?
When should I take my vitamins?
Since B-vitamins can be somewhat activating, it is best to take a multivitamin in the morning or afternoon.
Minerals such as calcium and magnesium that serve as natural muscle relaxants can be taken in the evening to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Vitamins as a general rule are best taken with meals. If you think about it, most vitamins and minerals come from our food, so typically they will be digested and absorbed best in the company of a meal.
If you are in a pinch you can take your multi-vitamin with a small handful of nuts. Fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, and K require fats to form the “micelles” needed for absorption. Most vitamins also require a little bit of protein in their company to be properly digested and utilized.
Minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc require an acid rich environment in the stomach for best absorption.
I rarely prescribe any nutritional supplements to be taken between meals. Unless specified otherwise, most things will be absorbed and utilized best in the presence of food.
All rules have exceptions of course:
- Take iron, calcium and other minerals separate from each other for optimal absorption. If you are taking these nutrients preventively I would not worry about it as much as if you are using them therapeutically such as to treat osteoporosis or anemia. Divalent cations such as calcium and iron will compete with each other for absorption in the GI tract. Women treating both anemia and osteoporosis should take their iron in the morning with their multivitamin, and take calcium throughout the rest of the day. Problems with multiple mineral digestion may be more of a stomach acid issue.
- Individual amino acid therapies like tryptophan or lysine as the amino acids will compete with other amino acids in your food. Most amino acids used therapeutically are best taken on an empty stomach.
- Supplements designed to reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract are best taken away from food.
- Enzymes used therapeutically for pain reduction such as bromelain should be taken away from food, mainly because the enzymes otherwise will work more on digesting your food than reducing inflammation.
When in doubt, read the label. Most vitamin and supplement manufacturers will conveniently tell you on the label how to best use their product.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table to ask the question!