As the world gets #woke to healthy living, vitamins have gone mainstream-77 percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements. A health-conscious public is great, yet many are surprised to learn there's more to taking vitamins than simply downing the recommended number of tablets each day. When's the best time to take your vitamins? Which nutrients work better together? It's time to optimize your nutritional routine.
Start by working with your qualified healthcare provider or dietician to determine which vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients are right for you. Then, your next step is to unlock every possible benefit.
Four factors determine the best time to take vitamins:
1. Micronutrient Effect
Micronutrients-vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals-uniquely affect your body from the moment they enter your system. Vitamin B1 plays a key role to convert what you eat into usable energy, making it ideal to take in the morning. And other B vitamins are shown to balance mood and support stress levels-a great reason to start your day with them.*
Looking to the afternoon or evening, a 2014 study suggests calcium may help you fall asleep. Magnesium has been shown to help promote sleep and, in one study, was tied to statistically optimized measured melatonin levels in older adults.*
This handy guide offers a deeper dive on the best time to take vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins based on their effects on the body.
2. Absorption Rate
Micronutrients all have unique factors which affect their bioavailability-your body's absorption rate. B vitamins are water-soluble and most effective taken on an empty stomach, or two hours after a meal. Great to take first thing in the morning. Other vitamins are fat-soluble-like vitamins D, E, and K-and should be taken with a fat-containing meal. Based on your unique eating schedule, your heaviest meal is the perfect time for fat-soluble vitamins.
Beyond solubility, multivitamins, prenatal supplements, and some nutrients-vitamin C and magnesium, among others-may cause digestive discomfort on an empty stomach. So, it makes sense to pair them with a meal or tall glass of water.
Certain nutrients simply work better together. Vitamin K helps to regulate calcium levels in the bloodstream, and magnesium is essential for the activation of vitamin D in the body. It's easy to nerd out on the nutritional science behind the best time to take your vitamins.
3. Package Instructions
Manufacturers of high-quality nutritional supplements have done their homework. They understand the best time to take vitamins based on body effects, bioavailability, and clinical trials, and gladly stand by their research. These reputable companies often share results from clinical studies conducted by independent third parties. Product certifiers, like ConsumerLab.com, are also another great resource to learn about the quality and effectiveness of the supplements you are taking.
If the brand is backed by science, it's best to follow their recommendations.
4. What Works for You
Ultimately, creating a daily routine to take your supplements is the goal. Set realistic expectations for times during the day you can hit pause to pop open your pill organizer. Here are a couple ideas if you find yourself missing several doses a week:
Utilize your tech. Every smartphone comes with an alarm or reminders app. Set a recurring daily alert for the times you want to take your nutritionals. Many of these apps have a "delay one hour" option-in case you're having one of those days.
Simply, simplify. Instead of taking a dozen pills every day, consider an all-in-one multivitamin or cellular nutrition system. Look for one that provides the nutrients most tailored to your needs.
Pair with other habits. Many people find the best time to take vitamins is first thing in the morning or while winding down at night. It's easy to center supplement intake around other good habits you've already established, like daily meditation, exercise, or journaling.
Try, try again. If you miss a dose a day, a week, a month-it's fine. Many nutrients can take several weeks to reveal all their benefits. But, like exercise, missing out now and again isn't nearly as bad as giving up entirely.
Bring on the Benefits
Figuring out the best time to take vitamins and other micronutrients is a lot to consider. But once you've discovered what you need to take-and when-you'll be well on the road to supplement success.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.