When is the best time to take vitamins and supplements?

February 24th, 2015
Best time to take supplements

Watching what you eat, exercising and getting enough sleep are the most important things you can do for your body.  Sometimes, no matter how much we try to provide everything we need for our bodies, we fall short.  In the case of your body, there are nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function at its best.  Unfortunately with food preservatives, additives, high salt, high sugar and processing procedures, a lot of these essential vitamins and nutrients are lost.  Fortunately, there are supplements that can help boost and fill that need.  Most look at supplements as benign and take them whenever they want.  There are vitamins that need to be taken with food.  There are vitamins that are better on an empty stomach.  There are some that should not be taken together.  Here is a rundown of the most common supplements and when to take them:

Calcium: Calcium can be taken with food but it is okay to take it on an empty stomach.  When taking calcium, you should avoid taking iron and zinc with it.  Calcium can be taken with a multivitamin as long as it is not fortified with Iron.  Calcium interferes with the absorption of iron.  Zinc and calcium may compete for absorption which means one or the other may not be fully absorbed.  Calcium is said to be a natural relaxant with a calming effect that can help you get a better sleep.  Because of this effect, it is best taken at night before bed.  This also helps with a possible upset stomach.

Magnesium:  Magnesium, like calcium, has a calming effect on the body. It targets the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system.  It is also best taken at bedtime.  It can be taken with Calcium and taken with or without food.

Vitamin C:  Vitamin C can be taken with water alone.  It can be taken at any time.  Vitamin C and B can be taken together.  It is suggested that Vitamin C should be taken with Iron as it assists in Iron absorption.

Zinc:  It is best to take zinc one hour before a meal or two hours after.  This increases it’s absorption by avoiding the damage of stomach acid.  It’s best not to take it with Calcium as they compete to be absorbed.  It is also best not to take it with Iron, as the Iron lessens the effect of Zinc.

Vitamin A, D, E and K:  These all need to be taken with food as the fat in food helps aid their survival through the stomachs acids.  These are usually found in Multivitamins.  Multivitamins are best taken in the morning with food.

Fish Oil:  Fish oil contains vitamin D as well as essential Omega 3 fatty acids.  These are best taken with food and help aid in digestion and cut down on side effects.

Probiotics:   Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria.  Because of this, avoiding as much stomach acid as possible is important.  Take the probiotics before bed or at least 20 minutes before eating.  Avoid taking them with antibiotics as antibiotics tend to kill all bacteria – good and bad.  Other probiotic killers are Aspirin, Ibuprofen, NSAIDS, and birth control.  Avoid destroying the good bacteria by taking it 2 -3 hours before you take any of these other medications.

All supplements bought over the counter will say to take with food.  The FDA does require this one thing – although supplements are widely uncontrolled.  Until recently, most stores producing their own brand of supplement were on an honor type system.  Last month, 4 stores had their supplements pulled due to the fact that random testing found little or none of the labeled supplement in the bottle.  For example, St Johns wart had house plant and dried carrot material found in it.  It did not contain any St. Johns Wart.  This is a real problem but, as was stated, only the store brands were found to be lacking appropriate ingredients.  Cheaper is NOT always better and all supplements are not created equal.

Discuss your addition of supplements with your physician.  Medication interference is not an issue, but, some supplements can aggravate pre-existing conditions.  This is especially true for those with diseases or disorders that might react to one and/or another supplement.

As with all things you put in your body, you want the purest form possible.  Otherwise, what is the point of taking them at all? Avoid supplements that use fillers and check the percentage of RDA (recommended daily allowance) on the label.  Especially for multivitamins.  It may cost a few extra dollars to purchase a good supplement, but the benefits that it can bring to your body are worth it.  As they say, you get what you pay for so get the very best.

Be sure to take your supplements at the appropriate times and with either food or water.   Again, if you are not taking them with the correct substance, water or food, you may be missing out on their benefits.  It has been suggested that, as a lot of people do with prescribed medications, you separate your supplements in a pill organizer – one with a.m., mid-day, p.m. and bedtime sections.  Another option is to write it out as a chart or set alarms for the appropriate times with reminders of what to take and when.  It is essential for proper absorption to do this correctly.

With a little effort you can use your supplements’ benefits to their full extent.  It really does matter what time you take them or with what.  It may seem a bit inconvenient at first, but after a while it will become routine.  The effort is worth the benefits.  Each of these supplements are things your body needs to function correctly and at its maximum potential.  Without the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs, your body cannot function as intended.  Take the time to learn more about supplements and contact your physician and/or pharmacist for more information.