Best Time to Take Vitamins: Morning or Evening? With or Without Food?
Posted on March 31, 2022 in All
By Dr. Josh Axe
You’ve done your research and chosen several vitamins and/or minerals to take that you believe you can benefit from. Now you’re wondering: When is the best time to take vitamins? Adding supplements to your routine can feel tricky, but once you have an understanding of when it’s best to take vitamins each day, such as first thing in the morning versus at night, you can make it a consistent part of your routine without much thought involved. Additionally, timing when you take your supplements will give them the best chance of being properly absorbed — this way they provide the most benefits possible. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including taking supplements. You should also always read and follow label directions for product use. Should You Take Vitamins In the Morning or At Night? The ideal time to take vitamins and minerals really depends on the specific kind. Some are best absorbed with a meal, while others can be taken at any time of day. This will influence whether you take the supplements in the morning or the evening. For example, “fat soluble” vitamins — which include vitamins A, E, K and D — should typically be taken with a meal, specifically one that includes at least a small amount of fat that supports absorption. Fats such as olive or coconut oil, whole-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, eggs and avocado can all help your body utilize fat-soluble vitamins. You can take these vitamins with breakfast or dinner, but you may want to avoid taking them on a completely empty stomach. On the other hand, “water soluble” vitamins — including B vitamins and vitamin C — can usually be taken morning or night, with or without meals, since their absorption isn’t dependent on what foods you’re eating. Taking water-soluble vitamins on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning or between meals, might help your body absorb them best, but the caveat is that, for some, it’s easier to take them with a meal. Best Time to Take Multivitamins Who benefits from taking multivitamins? Even the best quality diet might not be enough to help you meet all of your nutritional needs. That’s because not all foods found in grocery stores, including even healthy foods like vegetables and fruits, are rich in nutrients if they were grown in poor quality soil or aren't very fresh when you eat them. Therefore, multivitamins can help to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet if you are unable to meet your needs through your diet alone. Multivitamins are also often recommended for people following restrictive diets, such as those on low-calorie, low-carb or vegan diets. Additionally, there’s good reason for most aging adults and pregnant women, who require higher intakes of some nutrients, to regularly take multivitamins. Overall, multivitamins offer benefits such as support for: bone health, cardiovascular function, healthy immune system function, healthy energy levels, and much more. How to choose a quality multivitamin If you’re investing money and time into taking supplements, you want your supplements to provide the most help possible for your healthy immune system, cognitive health, heart and more. Opt for multivitamins made from real food ingredients, which your body recognizes and can use most easily, plus those that feature sprouted and fermented ingredients. Sprouting and fermenting help to partially break down foods so they are even easier to digest. Best time to take multivitamins? You can either take your multivitamin in the morning with breakfast, which helps support absorption and is often easier on the stomach, or if you prefer, at night with dinner. Whichever time you choose, stay consistent so you don’t easily miss days. Best Time to Take Prenatal Vitamins Why do pregnant women benefit from taking multivitamins? Pregnancy is a time in which the body requires extra vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and other nutrients because these help support growth and development of the fetus. For instance, folate and iron are very important during pregnancy because they help the body make enough red blood cells and facilitate development of the fetus’ central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, etc.). To ensure that mom and baby are getting the nutrition they need in addition to a healthy diet, taking a quality prenatal multivitamin during pregnancy — which contains specialized amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to regular multivitamins — is highly encouraged. However, you should always consult your healthcare professional. Overall, benefits of prenatal vitamins include support for: general prenatal health, healthy fertility, healthy sleep and energy levels, and healthy blood folate concentrations. How to choose a quality prenatal vitamin Just like with regular multivitamins, opt for a prenatal supplement that is made with food-based ingredients and no additives or fillers. You can also look for a supplement that contains fermented, methylated or coenzymated forms of nutrients which are designed to support overall healthy absorption and ease on the body. Generally, you should choose a supplement that provides 100 percent or more of the Daily Value (DV) of 12 essential vitamins and minerals you need (including vitamins A, B, C, D and E, as well as iron, folate, zinc and others). Best time to take a prenatal vitamin Prenatal vitamins contain both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, so it’s best to take them either in the morning with breakfast, which helps support absorption, or at night with dinner. Because pregnant women can be prone to having sensitive stomachs during this time, some find that taking prenatal vitamins with dinner before bed is the best option. Pick a time and stay consistent so you easily remember to take your vitamins daily. Best Time to Take Other Vitamins Best Time to Take B Vitamins Ideally in the morning, with water or another beverage, or you can take it with food. You can and should take B vitamins together (such as in a B complex supplement), since they work best when taken together. Best Time to Take Vitamin C Any time, with water or another beverage, or you can take it with food. Best Time to Take Vitamin D3 Take with a meal containing fat, ideally in the morning or afternoon (when your body would naturally make vitamin D from sunlight). Best Time to Take Vitamin E Take with a meal containing fat, any time of day. Best Time to Take Magnesium Ideally take in the morning with a meal, or split into two smaller servings (morning and night). Some people may choose to take more at night to help with sleep and digestion the next morning. Best Time to Take Zinc Take one to two hours before eating a meal, with water or another beverage. Best Time to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids Take with a meal containing fat, any time of day. You might want to take omega-3s in two divided servings if you require more than one capsule/serving. When to Take Vitamins Chart (In General) Type of Vitamin Best Time of Day to TakeB vitamins Morning or early afternoon, with or without a mealVitamin CAny time, with or without a mealVitamin DMorning or afternoon with a mealVitamin EAnytime with a mealMagnesiumMorning or night with a meal, or split into two servings; take in evening for sleep benefitsZincOne to two hours before eating a mealOmega-3sAnytime with a meal, or split into 2 servingsRelated: Best Time to Take Probiotics? What Vitamins Should Not Be Taken Together? If you take a multivitamin, you're going to be consuming many different nutrients together. This isn’t usually a problem because you’re not taking large doses of vitamins or minerals all at once. However, avoid taking high amounts of vitamins/minerals with other nutrients, since some compete with one another and block absorption in the body. Vitamins/minerals that shouldn’t be taken together in large amounts include:
Vitamin C and vitamin B12
Iron and calcium
Vitamin C and iron
Zinc and magnesium
Calcium and magnesium
Is it better to take vitamins in the morning or at night? It depends on the kind of vitamin and what your healthcare professional says.
Water-soluble vitamins (like B vitamins) and most minerals can be taken anytime of day, while fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, E, D, K) need to be taken with a meal, either dinner or breakfast, to be absorbed properly.
What vitamins should not be taken together? Avoid taking large amounts of different nutrients with one another, including by spacing out intake of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.
Opt for multivitamins made from real food ingredients, which your body recognizes and can use most easily, plus those that feature sprouted and fermented ingredients.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and the most recent Ancient Remedies.