Vitamin Supplements: When Is The Best Time Of The Day To Take Them?

Updated on April 27, 2022

Vitamin supplements are a great method to make sure that you are meeting your daily nutritional needs. Believe it or not, there is a wrong and right way to supplement.

You will not experience a true difference if you fail to do your research and set up a proper schedule to follow throughout your daily routine. You can get the most nutritional benefit out of your vitamin supplements when you know the best time to take them, and of course only if you choose the best supplements according to the huge database of

You’ve no doubt heard that the time of day is everything when it comes to taking your daily vitamin and mineral supplement. What most people are surprised to know is that the time of day isn’t the most important factor when planning your daily vitamin supplement schedule. 

What it comes down to is aligning the type of supplement and the time you supplement with your normal daily eating and drinking regimen. Wondering why? Let us explain. 

Vitamins are split up into two different categories.

When is the Best Time to Take Water Soluble Vitamins? 

First, we have water-soluble vitamins. These consist of essential vitamins like vitamin C and all of the B vitamins, including thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), biotin (vitamin B7), folate (vitamin B9), and cobalamin (vitamin B12).

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What makes them water soluble is the fact that you need water in order for your body to properly absorb them into your circulation after ingestion. It’s best to take these types of vitamins on an empty stomach with a tall glass of water to obtain the maximum health benefits. 

When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a powerhouse vitamin that’s known for its immune-boosting powers and antioxidant properties. It also participates in both collagen and neurotransmitter production

The form of vitamin C in supplements is usually ascorbic acid, but also sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate. Ascorbic acid is most widely utilized in supplements because its bioavailability is similar to what we would consume from natural sources. 

Because ascorbic acid is more on the acidic side, if you want to minimize the possibility of digestive distress it’s best to take a vitamin C supplement with food

One thing to keep in mind is that due to the nature of vitamin C being a water soluble vitamin, the body only absorbs what it needs and excretes the rest. This means that “megadosing” with an at-home vitamin C supplement isn’t exactly necessary unless directed by your doctor. 

When is the Best Time to Take B Vitamins?

You can buy B vitamins as a complex, where the formula of the supplement contains all of the B vitamins, or individually. The most common B vitamin supplements bought are Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) or Vitamin B9 (folate or sometimes folic acid).

Again, because of the nature of B vitamins being water soluble, you can take these vitamins with water on an empty stomach. This is even more true when the person is deficient in B vitamins as an empty stomach supports the most optimal absorption of the nutrient. 

That said, considering the energizing properties that B vitamins often have on the body’s metabolic processes (including energy production), it’s highly recommended that you take your vitamin B supplements in the morning. This way you can feel energized throughout the day while also making sure it doesn’t disturb your natural sleep cycle.

When is the Best Time to Take Fat Soluble Vitamins? 

Next, we have fat soluble vitamins. There are four fat soluble vitamins. These include the essential vitamins vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. What makes them fat soluble is the fact that you need fat in order for your body to properly absorb them into your circulation after ingestion.

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When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin A?

The majority of supplements source their vitamin A from specific plant compounds called carotenoids or fish liver oil. Carotenoid-derived vitamin A is a highly beneficial form as the body is more efficient at converting it into its active form. Because vitamin A is fat soluble, take this supplement with a source of dietary fat to support absorption. 

When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins to support an optimal functioning body. This potent vitamin plays a role in cellular health, calcium homeostasis to support bone health, and the immune system to support the body’s response to infection and illness. As a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D is best taken with a source of dietary fat to support maximum absorption

One thing to keep in mind is that the body needs adequate magnesium levels in order to convert vitamin D into its active form. For this reason, maintaining a healthy vitamin D status in the body also necessitates a diet that offers a rich source of magnesium. Vitamin K may also support the benefits of vitamin D on bone health. On the flip side, the absorption of vitamin D in the body is affected by the presence of other fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin E.  

When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin E?

Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E possesses strong antioxidant properties that support a healthy functioning immune system. It also supports healthy circulation, which is essential to nutrient absorption and distribution. 

Unlike the other fat soluble vitamins, vitamin E is unique in that the body can efficiently absorb it without a source of dietary fat. However, this is only true if you consume dietary fat throughout the day as part of a nutritionally balanced diet. 

When is the Best Time to Take Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is another unique fat soluble vitamin in that it actually represents a grouping of compounds that are fat soluble. These include phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1, and menaquinones, also known as vitamin K2.

Both vitamin K derivatives are required by the body to support healthy blood clotting activities, as well as maintain bone and heart health. Similar to the rest of the fat soluble vitamins, taking vitamin K with a source of dietary fat supports the most optimal absorption of this nutrient. As mentioned above, taking a vitamin K supplement with vitamin D may increase the body’s absorption of the nutrient. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the average diet does provide an adequate source of vitamin K to meet the body’s daily needs. As a result, it’s highly recommended that you do not “megadose” vitamin K unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider. You should also speak with a healthcare professional before taking a vitamin K supplement if you are on anticoagulant medications given the nature of vitamin K’s blood clotting properties. 

Helpful Reminder for Taking Fat Soluble Vitamins 

To make sure you are obtaining the optimal health benefits from a fat soluble vitamin, take them as soon as you eat a food that’s rich in dietary fat and/or a fat-containing meal. This doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with your fat intake. 

All your body needs to absorb a fat soluble vitamin is around a teaspoon of fat. This generally equals out to approximately 5 grams of fat. You can meet this by reviewing the nutritional label and following the serving size of your favorite low-fat dairy product. You can also take a fat soluble vitamin after you consume a meal that’s either been cooked in a healthy fat like coconut oil or prepared with a healthy fat like a slice or two of avocado

When is the Best Time to Take Multivitamin Supplements? 

Now comes a trickier matter – when to take a multivitamin supplement. Multivitamins are of course a highly beneficial and efficient way to meet your vitamin and mineral nutritional needs on a daily basis. 

However, these vitamin supplements are a little more complicated when it comes to knowing when the best time is for you to take them as they often contain both water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. 

When a multivitamin contains a fat soluble vitamin, it’s best practice to take this supplement with whatever type of food you are planning to eat. By doing this, you are making sure that your body has the best possible chance to efficiently absorb the fat soluble vitamins and obtain their health benefits. 

You can increase the absorption of the water soluble vitamins mixed in with your multivitamin supplement by drinking a water-based beverage with your meal. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee your body will absorb the entirety of those water soluble vitamins and you may be missing out of all of their health benefits.

The opposite is true when your stomach is empty and you take a multivitamin supplement with water. By doing this, you are not giving your body the means to efficiently absorb all of the fat soluble vitamins within that supplement. The impact is doubled as you may end up with some type of digestive distress as your body works harder to break down the components of this supplement, trying to absorb them into your bloodstream.

So, when it comes to taking a multivitamin supplement, experts recommend that the best way to ensure you are efficiently absorbing both water soluble and fat soluble vitamins is to take them separately

When is the Best Time to Take Prenatal Vitamins? 

Prenatal vitamins fall under the general category of multivitamins. So, the same rules of when and how to take a multivitamin apply to taking prenatal vitamins. One thing to keep in mind is that prenatal vitamins are designed to support the body’s health when preparing to conceive by supplying essential nutrients required to support optimal fertility. This means that you should consider taking a prenatal vitamin when you make the decision that you are going to try to conceive up until about 12 weeks into your pregnancy. As always, speak with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement of any kind. 

When is the Best Time to Take Probiotic Supplements?

Probiotic supplements are beneficial to support optimal GI tract health and function. It is often recommended that a probiotic supplement should be taken either thirty minutes prior to or while consuming a meal for best results

That said, when it comes to probiotic supplements, many health and nutrition experts indicate that consistency matters more than the actual time of day you take it or whether it’s consumed with or without a meal. Maintaining a consistent supplement schedule is often the key to supporting the best changes for optimal absorption and health benefits. 

When is the Best Time to Take Fiber Supplements?

The majority of plant-based food items contain a form of natural fiber. Most of the food items that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain foods, including wheat-based and corn-based products. If you are ever wondering how much fiber you are consuming on a daily basis, all you have to do is look at the nutritional panel that’s provided on the package of whatever food item you are consuming. For whole foods that contain fiber, you can do a quick search on the internet to obtain this information. Just like any other nutrient found in foods, the amount of fiber will differ between each food.

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Fiber comes in two forms. You have soluble and insoluble fibers. Both forms of this particular nutrient are highly beneficial to your health and are recommended that you incorporate them every day as part of a nutritious diet. This health boosting nutrient is shown to support healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels and support a healthy functioning gastrointestinal tract which better supports healthy digestion. When incorporated into a properly balanced nutrient-dense diet, fiber is known to support the general health of the body by reducing the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and digestive health conditions. 

What makes each of these fiber types unique? Well, soluble fiber has absorbent properties that are designed to absorb water in your digestive tract. Once it does this, it transforms into a gel-like material that helps the consumer feel fuller for longer. This particular fiber is naturally found in high quantities in most of the whole fruits and vegetables you consume on a daily basis. Insoluble fiber doesn’t necessarily have absorbent properties like soluble fiber does. This type of fiber is designed to remain intact in your stomach in order to support your body’s digestive system, effectively regulating your bowel movements as the food passes through your digestive tract. 

Because of the properties each of these fibers has, it is recommended that consumers take a fiber supplement in between mealtimes. By doing this, they have that added support to help them feel full and minimize cravings, which supports less snacking throughout the day. It is also recommended and/or suggested that fiber supplements be taken right before bedtime. For the same reasons stated above, taking a fiber supplement before bedtime (with a full glass of water) can help minimize late-night cravings and snacking, and support your body’s digestive system as you sleep. 

When is the Best Time to Take a Fish Oil and/or Omega Fatty Acid Supplement?

Fish oil or omega fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial in supporting the body’s cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as a healthy inflammatory response. Because fish oil and omega fatty acid supplements are typically sourced from fat-based compounds, they generally receive a lot of attention regarding their digestive distress side effect when taken on an empty stomach. Given this, taking them with a source of dietary fat may be most advantageous to support optimal absorption and minimize the risk of experiencing side effects. 

Which Vitamins Should I or Can I Take at the Same Time?

Sometimes, to better absorb a vitamin and obtain its health benefits, it’s best to take it with a mineral. For example, Vitamin D and calcium are better absorbed together. The same applies to vitamin C and iron

By taking these nutrients at the same time, either through supplements or dietary sources, you can ensure you are efficiently absorbing each. One such example that you’ve likely heard of is taking an iron supplement with a tall glass of orange juice

By doing this, you’re equally benefiting from both nutrients.

Example of a Vitamin Supplement Schedule 

Vitamin Supplements to Take at Breakfast Time

  • Multivitamins.
  • Prenatal Multivitamins.
  • Folic Acid.
  • B Vitamins and/or B Complex.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
  • Probiotics.

Vitamin Supplements to Take at Lunchtime

  • Calcium.
  • Vitamin D.

Vitamin Supplements to Take at Dinnertime 

  • Iron.
  • Vitamin C.

Vitamin Supplements to Take at Bedtime 

  • Fiber (make sure to take this type of supplement with a large glass of water).

Do I Really Need to Take a Vitamin Supplement? 

All in all, yes, vitamin supplements are an effective way to meet your daily nutritional needs. That said, if taking a vitamin supplement isn’t exactly your idea of the best way to meet your daily needs, then a good olé fashioned nutrient-dense diet will do the trick. 

Nutrition research tells us that concentrating on a diet filled with whole foods is the best method to ensure your body is obtaining all the nutrients it needs to meet your daily needs and maintain optimal health. Combining an exercise regimen with proper hydration and a nutritionally balanced diet are often the pillars of living a healthy lifestyle. 

Final Thoughts 

There’s no need to fret if you can’t remember or don’t want to follow a specific vitamin supplement schedule. As long as you follow these dietary guidelines for vitamin supplementation, you may experience the most health benefits from ensuring optimal absorption. 

Key Tips to Remember 

  • Consume Water Soluble Vitamins with Water.
  • Consume Fat Soluble Vitamins with Fat.
  • Consume a Multivitamin Supplement with Both Water and Fat.

Avoid Consuming Calcium and Iron Supplements At The Same Time.

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