The Independent Pharmacy

When Is The Best Time To Take Vitamins

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 5 Feb 2024

The best time to take vitamins depends on what kinds of vitamins they are. Experts say that your body absorbs certain types of vitamins better when you take them with food. Taking vitamins is an easy way for you to help ensure your body has enough key nutrients to stay healthy as part of a balanced diet.

Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K need fat to be absorbed well, so it's ideal to take them around your largest meal of the day. This means lunch or dinner for most people. Your body digests these vitamins along with the fats you eat at bigger meals.

Water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and certain B vitamins dissolve in water. You can take these types of vitamins anytime. But some experts recommend taking them in the morning so they help give you energy.

The timing of when you take vitamins helps your body access its vitamins and minerals fully. Read on to learn more about how vitamin absorption works and when it's best to take different vitamin supplements.

Key Findings

  • Vitamins and supplements can have varying effectiveness depending on the time of day they are taken.
  • Interactions with food, other supplements, and individual lifestyle factors can influence the absorption and utilisation of vitamins.
  • Personalised approaches to vitamin intake can optimise health benefits and cater to individual health goals and dietary restrictions.

Understanding Vitamins and Their Absorption

Fat-Soluble vs. Water-Soluble Vitamins

There are two main types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Each type dissolves and is stored differently in your body.

Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K. They require some fat or oil at meals to help their absorption. Sources of fat like olive oil, salmon, almonds or eggs can help you fully take in these vitamins. Your body keeps any extra fat-soluble vitamins that it doesn't use right away in your liver and other parts of your body. This means they can build up to higher levels over time if you consistently take more than needed. The fat-soluble vitamins support essential functions like healthy bones, cell growth, blood clotting, eyesight and immune defence against infections.

Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and various B vitamins like B12, B6 and folic acid. True to their name, these vitamins dissolve easily in water rather than fat. So your body does not keep reserve stores of extra water-soluble vitamins. If your body has too much of these vitamins, it gets rid of the extra through your urine. This means you need regular daily doses of these vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins help nutrient metabolism, red blood cell production, and brain functions, as well as fighting illness and chronic disease.

The Role of Food in Vitamin Absorption

Specific foods help or hinder how well your body takes in vitamins. Eating fat-containing foods during meals helps boost absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Good fat sources include plant oils like olive oil, oily fish like salmon or mackerel, eggs, seeds, nuts, peanut butter and avocados. Vitamin C and iron both require stomach acid to trigger absorption, so pairing them with citrus juice or vitamin C supplements aids the process. Calcium also needs an acidic environment, which foods like yoghurt, milk, leafy greens and soybeans help provide.

On the other hand, foods high in fibre can potentially reduce how well your gut absorbs some vitamins. If taking high-fibre supplements, check with a pharmacist or doctor on the proper spacing between fibre and vitamins.

What Is The Best Time to Take Vitamins: Morning, Noon, or Night?

Morning Routine: Kickstarting Your Day with the Right Nutrients

Taking certain vitamins in the morning helps start your day off right. The B vitamins plus vitamin C support energy production and metabolism. Since your body does not store these water-soluble vitamins, taking them early provides benefits all day long. Pairing them with breakfast also aids absorption - vitamin C takes advantage of the acidic juices, while B vitamins absorb well on an empty stomach.

Folic acid serves crucial functions like new cell growth and preventing birth defects during early pregnancy. Getting your daily folic acid intake from fortified grains or supplements early in the day ensures adequate levels as your body starts actively forming new cells and tissues.

Midday and Evening: Aligning Vitamin Intake with Daily Activities

Adjust your afternoon and evening vitamin doses to match your needs. Active adults can take vitamin D with lunch to support bone strength for weight-bearing activities like strength training. Vitamin E and magnesium absorption increase when taken in the evening. Vitamin E boosts immune defence overnight, while magnesium relaxes muscles for restful sleep.

Pregnant and postmenopausal women have higher calcium needs to support developing babies’ bone growth or offset decreases in bone density. Getting sufficient calcium levels requires taking supplements spread throughout the day - a tall glass of fortified orange juice at breakfast, yoghurt parfait at lunch and sesame seeds on a salad at dinner.

However, individual responses can vary, and personal preferences or digestive comfort can also play a significant role.

Special Considerations for Vitamin Intake

Age, Diet, and Health Conditions

Your age, diet, and health status impact when you should take certain vitamins. Adults over 50 should take more calcium and vitamin D to keep their bones strong. Strict vegetarian or vegan diets can lack key nutrients like iron, omega-3s or vitamin B12, which may require timed supplements to prevent shortages.

If you have health conditions like celiac disease or acid reflux, or if you've had weight loss surgery, you might need to take more of certain vitamins because these conditions can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. Work with your doctor to determine optimal timing and doses to compensate for absorption issues. Those taking blood thinners should avoid vitamin E supplements due to the risks of excessive bleeding. Always talk to your pharmacist to make sure your vitamins and other medications don't affect each other.

Avoiding Interactions and Maximising Benefits

Timing your doses wisely lets you enhance or avoid supplement interactions. Taking calcium and iron at different times, like one in the morning and the other in the evening, helps your body absorb both minerals better.

On the other hand, pairing nutrients can boost benefits. Combine iron with vitamin C sources like citrus juice to elevate iron absorption. Follow a vitamin D supplement with a food containing calcium. Check with a doctor before trying combination vitamin products marketed for specific health benefits, as these claims do not always have solid medical evidence.

Practical Tips and Common Mistakes

Creating a Sustainable Vitamin Routine

The most effective vitamin strategy is one you can stick to consistently. Link your vitamin doses to established daily habits - keep a combo calcium-vitamin D tablet by the coffee maker to take with your morning coffee, or pair your daily vitamin pack with brushing your teeth before bed. Use phone alerts to remind you it's time for a scheduled vitamin break.

Stock up on vitamins so you don't run out. Subscribe and save programs through pharmacies allow you to get regular vitamin deliveries. Purchase enough bottles for at least 2 months and re-order when you open the last new bottle. Storing extra bottles in handy places like your desk, gym bag, and car ensures vitamins are always within reach.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Don't skip regular doses - Maintaining healthy levels of vitamins and minerals requires consistent daily intake at effective dosing ranges. Missing too many days reduces your benefits.
  • Check dosing accuracy - High intake levels of certain vitamins, like A and iron, can potentially cause health concerns. Use kitchen scales to measure powder doses precisely per the instructions. Compare your multivitamins against recommended daily intakes.
  • Give a one-hour buffer around certain drinks - Caffeinated and milk-based beverages can interfere with the absorption of vitamins like vitamin D, zinc and iron. Have your morning coffee or latte an hour before or after you take impacted supplements. But keep in mind that individual responses and interactions can vary, and not all supplements or vitamins have the same degree of interaction with these beverages.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Choosing the right vitamins to meet your individual health needs is key to getting full benefits. The Independent Pharmacy has an expert team ready to help you select high-quality supplements tailored to your personal health profile.

Start by visiting our user-friendly website and take the online self-assessment. Simply answer questions about your age, gender, diet, medical conditions and more. Our advisors then review your responses and recommend a list of supplements matched to your situation. You can easily browse their extensive range of pharmacy-grade products and purchase what you need through our secure online shop.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions - our friendly staff aims to inform and support you every step of the way so you reach the best health possible.

FAQs

Should I take vitamin D in the morning or at night?

Either time works, but many take fat-soluble vitamin D in the morning around mid-day. This allows it time to help your body better absorb calcium from dairy foods eaten later. Taking vitamin D before bed is fine, too; just be consistent day to day to maintain blood levels.

Which vitamins should not be taken together?

Iron and calcium supplements can interfere with each other's absorption. Space them apart by taking only one type at a time, such as iron in the morning and calcium at night. Also, make sure to take fibre supplements and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) at least 4 hours apart because fibre can make it harder for your body to absorb these vitamins.

Can I take all my vitamins at the same time?

Yes, you can take multiple vitamin and mineral supplements together in one dose. Just be careful not to exceed the upper tolerable intake level for any nutrient that can trigger toxicity at very high doses over time. Be aware some combinations affect absorption - talk to your pharmacist.

Is it OK to take vitamins before bed?

Generally, it's fine to take water-soluble vitamin C and B complexes before bedtime. Some exceptions are if they may be energising or contain iron, which can cause stomach upset when lying flat shortly after taking it. Allow 1-2 hours after taking iron.

Sources:

Fat facts (bda.uk.com)

Interaction of vitamin C and iron - PubMed (nih.gov)

Folic acid: vitamin that helps the body make healthy red blood cells - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Vitamins and minerals - Calcium - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Related Guides

Metabolism Boosters - How To Speed Up Your Metabolic Rate

Scott McDougall
Written by Scott McDougall

The Best Vitamins And Supplements For Women

Scott McDougall
Written by Scott McDougall

What Vitamins & Supplements Should Men Take Daily?

Scott McDougall
Written by Scott McDougall

Need something else?

We stock 963 treatments for 88 conditions

Or browse all treatments or conditions

A customer at the pharmacist looking for medication