Our bodies rely on proper levels of the vitamins and minerals we need to perform the various functions of each of our systems.
Many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need come solely from our consumption of foods. With a busy schedule and a not-so-perfect diet, it’s easy to become deficient in certain essential nutrients.
While we can sometimes blame our eating habits for a dip in our nutrient levels, it’s also possible to eat a perfectly balanced diet and still come up short on the right balance of vitamins and minerals in the body. This can be due to a decrease in the body’s ability to absorb them from things like aging or other underlying causes.
When we become deficient or need a boost to our vitamin intake, supplements can provide the answer to our problems. Of course, as with adding anything new to what we put into our bodies, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.
If you are taking vitamins, it’s important to know the best time to take them. This depends largely on what type of supplement you are taking. After a meal is often the best time to take some vitamins, but others are best taken on an empty stomach.
Whether or not you take your vitamins with a meal, it is important to establish a routine so that taking your vitamins becomes a natural part of your day.
Forming a healthy habit of taking your vitamins at the same time every day will also help your supplements give you their best performance.
Different vitamins break down differently and are absorbed differently in your body. That’s why it’s important to examine the type of vitamin you are taking, research how it breaks down, or ask your physician for guidance.
Let’s look at some of the types of supplements and the best time to take them.
Types of Supplements
There are many types of supplements out there, but let’s look at some common types of supplements and the best times to take them. Here are the common types of supplements:
- Fat-soluble vitamins
- Water-soluble vitamins
- B vitamins
The Best Time to Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal care is the healthcare you receive when you are pregnant. Logically, prenatal vitamins are the vitamins you take while you are pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are a multivitamin.
In order to absorb all that a prenatal vitamin has to offer, it is wise to take the vitamin before lunch for optimal results. Taking a prenatal vitamin is usually recommended to any woman expecting a child.
Typically, a good prenatal vitamin will be a supplement that includes calcium, iron, and folic acid. Iron absorbs best on an empty stomach, which is why it’s suggested that prenatal vitamins be taken before a meal.
Additionally, iron doesn’t absorb as well as dairy.
A vitamin that contains vitamin C is a better choice to help with iron absorption. Some good beverages for this are orange juice, apple juice, and grape juice.
Taking a prenatal vitamin is important to the health of the mother and the child, and the benefits of the prenatal vitamins are cumulative. To get the best results, it’s important to establish a routine of taking vitamins every day.
If you experience additional nausea from taking the prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach, you may want to consider changing the time of day you take your prenatal vitamins. Just make sure you’re consistent.
The Best Time to Take Fat-soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are best taken with your evening meal. Fats help your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins better. Once the fats have helped to dissolve the vitamins, they are taken into the bloodstream to perform essential functions.
Examples of fat-soluble supplements are vitamin A, vitamin K, fish oil, vitamin E, and vitamin D. Our bodies store additional fat-soluble vitamins in the liver when they are introduced. Saturated fats and oils are best for absorbing these fat-soluble vitamins.
You may find that other meals throughout your day contain more of the necessary fats and oils to promote absorption. You can adjust your intake to match your eating habits to maximize your results. As with most supplements, try to stay consistent for best results.
The Best Time to Take Water-soluble Vitamins
In the same way that fat dissolves fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water.
However, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are best taken on an empty stomach. To ensure that your stomach is indeed empty, it’s recommended that you take water-soluble vitamins first thing in the morning.
If you can’t take the vitamins first thing in the morning, take them at least 30 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal. In addition to taking them on an empty stomach, it’s also advisable that you take them with a glass of water.
Allowing the time needed on an empty stomach and providing the vitamins the water needed to dissolve properly can promote the proper absorption.
Examples of vitamins that are water-soluble include:
- Vitamin C
- B vitamins
- Folate (or folic acid)
Your body will absorb what it needs. Additional amounts of the vitamin will be flushed out of the body through the urine.
Your body doesn’t store water-soluble vitamins, so these vitamins are ideal for incorporating into your daily supplement routine and as a part of your diet. Staying consistent with your daily intake will keep your vitamin levels balanced and steady.
The Best Time to Take B Vitamins
B vitamins are best taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The reason it’s recommended that you take them first thing in the morning isn’t just because it’s the best time to ensure your stomach is empty.
B vitamins are known for the boost they provide to your energy levels and their calming effects on feelings of stress, with B-2, B-6, and B-12 being the most popular. In order to boost your energy levels, help improve your mood, and encourage a feeling of calm, a complex B vitamin supplement may be recommended by your physician.
Precautions to Take With Vitamins
When you’re taking vitamin supplements, they can benefit your overall health. However, as with most good things, it’s possible to overdo it. Too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad.
Overdoses are possible on certain vitamins, and overdoing it on vitamins can have side effects. Additionally, you should use caution and consult your doctor or pharmacist about the supplements you are taking for information on interactions with other medications you are taking.
For example, blood thinners don’t work well with certain vitamins, such as vitamin K. Vitamins should also be used as directed to avoid overconsumption.
Remember, if you’re pregnant, you do not need double the vitamins. Your doctor may tell you that you need additional support for your iron levels, but a double dose of your prenatal vitamin will give you too much of other supplements, like vitamin A, that could potentially be harmful to your baby.
It’s likely that you would be advised to take just an additional iron supplement, so it’s very important that you get clarification and follow the guidance your obstetrician provides.
Always exercise caution about the supplements you’re taking if you are pregnant or nursing.
Vitamins are also consumed through our diet. The foods you’re eating may affect your vitamin levels, and taking a supplement can cause you to get too much of a given vitamin. Not to mention, too much of a vitamin can throw off the balance in your body in the same way a deficiency can.
It’s also important to acquire your supplements from a reliable source because the FDA does not monitor vitamins and supplements for purity, quality, or safety.
Daily vitamin supplements can help you maintain balanced levels of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. Every function of the human body needs some vitamin or mineral to perform at its best.
A proper diet may not be enough to achieve the right levels you need. When starting a vitamin supplement regimen, it’s important to take the time to learn as much as you can about how your body best absorbs the vitamins.
Knowing this can help you determine the best time to incorporate it into your routine. Also, learning whether or not your vitamins are fat-soluble or water-soluble will help you time your intake just right.
If you are pregnant or nursing, listen to your body and your obstetrician when taking supplements.
Remember to talk with your doctor if you are taking any other medications, and seek medical advice before you introduce any new supplements to your diet. Balance is the key to success when taking supplements.