Even though we strive to have a perfect eating day, sometimes getting all the vitamins and nutrients we need from food alone just doesn’t work (like trying a plant-based diet for the first time). When our diet is insufficient, certain supplements can help provide missing essential nutrients. But when is the best time to take vitamins? With so many different kinds (and some requiring an empty stomach before taking), it can be difficult to know what to take and when.
“Vitamins can help fill nutritional gaps in a person’s diet,” says Keri Gans, RDN, author of The diet of small changes and host of the podcast The Keri Report. “If a person is on a special diet that limits or restricts certain foods, vitamins can help prevent nutritional deficiencies.”
Whether you take a multivitamin or a brain health vitamin, timing can sometimes determine how effective they are. Below, experts tell you when to take vitamins, including the best time to take vitamin D, vitamin C, multivitamins, and more.
Meet the experts: Keri Gans, RDN, author of The diet of small changes and host of the podcast The Keri Report; And Jim White, RDN, former ACSM Powner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition studios
Is it better to take vitamins in the morning or in the evening?
“The best time to take vitamins depends on the vitamin you’re taking,” says Jim White, RDN, ACSM Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. Whether or not a vitamin is water or fat soluble generally dictates when and how it should be taken, but some vitamins also have a certain effect on the body that helps determine when you should add it to your diet. your routine.
“For example, B vitamins can help with energy production, so it may make more sense to take them in the morning,” White says. The opposite is often true when taking magnesium for sleep.
But, as a general rule, the best time to take vitamins is the time you remember to take them, says Gans. “For some people, it’s in the morning with breakfast, and for others, it’s in the evening when they’re getting ready for bed.”
In advance, find the best time to take a variety of vitamins based on the composition of each.
Vitamins B, C and biotin (water-soluble vitamins)
Water-soluble vitamins can be taken at any time of day, with or without food, White says. The best time to take water-soluble vitamins would be when you remember to take them the most. Additionally, “water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body’s tissues and therefore need to be consumed regularly,” adds White.
Common water-soluble vitamins include:
- vitamin C
- B vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E and K (fat-soluble vitamins)
“Fat-soluble vitamins are different from water-soluble vitamins because they must be consumed with a meal containing fat to help break them down,” White says. “However, they can also be taken at any time of the day,” as long as they are consumed as an accompaniment to a meal containing fat.
Common fat-soluble vitamins include:
- vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- vitamin K
When is the best time to take multivitamins?
Multivitamins typically contain both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, Gans and White explain. It’s best to follow the rules regarding fat-soluble vitamins and take them at any time of day when you can consume a meal containing fat.
Can I take vitamins on an empty stomach?
There is no specific rule against this, our experts explain. “Taking vitamins on an empty stomach is an individual thing: some people have no side effects, while others do,” notes Gans.
However, White notes that water-soluble vitamins tend to be better tolerated on an empty stomach, but recommends that fat-soluble vitamins and multivitamins be taken with food “to avoid stomach upset and help increase vitamin absorption.” .
For those taking an iron supplement, it is recommended to take it on an empty stomach for optimal absorption, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you also take calcium, be sure to take it at a different time than your iron supplement to ensure your body fully absorbs both.
Warning: Food supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent or cure any disease. Use caution when taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and be sure to consult your doctor before taking new supplements (or giving them to a family member) in any situation, as they can interfere with medications.
Shannen Zitz is an associate editor at Prevention, where she covers all things lifestyle, wellness, beauty and relationships. Previously editorial assistant at Prevention, she graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in English. If she’s not reading or writing, you’ll probably find her frequenting skincare and makeup forums on Reddit or hogging the squat rack at the gym.
Eric M. Ascher, DO is a board-certified family physician. He completed medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, his family medicine residency and fellowship at Northwell Health, and has worked for Northwell Health ever since. Dr. Ascher practices in New York and focuses on preventive medicine and healthy living. He is recognized annually on the New York Times Super Doctor List and has been recognized by Northwell Health as a Rising Star and Physician of the Year. He hosts a YouTube series in collaboration with Northwell Health called “Hack Your Health,” in which viewers learn why household items can help their illnesses. Dr. Ascher is an assistant professor at Zucker Hillside School of Medicine at Hoftsra Northwell, has been a career-long pioneer of telehealth, a media expert, and is heavily involved in practice and technology optimization . He enjoys building relationships with his patients and their families to encourage long, happy and healthy lives.