Taking vitamins, minerals or other natural food supplements is a great way to top up any nutritional shortfalls from your diet and enhance your overall wellbeing.
However, you may be wondering if there is an ideal time of day to take vitamins?
Unfortunately, answering this question is tricky, as there are no hard or fast rules. All vitamins and minerals are different – and perform specific roles in your body – so the best time to take them will depend largely on which ones you are taking. Some are best taken in the morning or with food to maximise absorption. Others are best taken on an empty stomach or in the evening before bed.
Here, we take a closer look at the different types of vitamins and minerals, what they do, and the best times of day – or night – to take them.
BENEFITS OF TAKING VITAMINS AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
Getting adequate levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is essential for good overall health and wellbeing. They help strengthen your immune system and boost your body’s natural defence against illness. They support your key body systems and make sure they function correctly. They also play a vital role in creating the energy your body needs to function, build muscle and develop healthy skin, nails, hair, eyes, teeth and bones.
Your body, unfortunately, doesn’t produce most vitamins and minerals naturally, so the only way you can obtain them is through a healthy diet. No single food type contains all the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and function properly, so it’s crucial to eat a wide variety of different foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, for example, are nutrient-rich and dense in vitamins and minerals, so getting your five-a-day is essential. Lean meat is a good source of protein and iron, while dairy products are an excellent way of ensuring you meet your daily recommended calcium intake.
However, if you’re unable to meet your needs through diet alone, supplementation is one of the best ways to ensure you get the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are split into two groups – fat-soluble and water-soluble. While they can be taken at any time of day, your body absorbs them differently, so knowing how and when to take each type will help you maximise absorption and reap the most nutritional benefits.
Fat-soluble vitamins need fat for proper absorption, so they are best taken with food containing fat. Your body can store any excess fat-soluble vitamins in your muscles, which means you can take too many if you’re not careful.
There are nine water-soluble vitamins – Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins. As their name suggests, they dissolve in water, meaning you don’t need to take them with food. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, your body can’t store water-soluble vitamins in its tissues, so any excess is flushed through your urine. So, as a general rule, you should regularly consume water-soluble vitamins during the day to keep your levels topped up.
WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO TAKE....
When it comes to the best time to take certain vitamins and minerals, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Vitamin A is fat-soluble. It plays a key role in supporting your vision, immune system, reproductive organs, muscles, and bone growth and development. It also helps your heart, lungs and other organs function properly. You can find Vitamin A in oily fish, like sardines, salmon or mackerel, nuts, avocados and olive oil. If you’re taking a supplement – like Cod Liver Oil or Omega 3-6-9 – it’s best taken with food at the same time every day.
The water-soluble B vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate and cobalamin – can be taken at any time of day, with or without food. However, they play an essential role in energy production and nutrient metabolism, so taking them in the morning, before breakfast, can help set you up for the day ahead. B vitamins can be taken individually or as a Vitamin B complex supplement containing all eight vitamins.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays several critical roles in your body. It supports your immune and nervous systems and helps your body synthesise collagen to provide the building blocks for healthy skin, bones, joints, muscles, teeth and hair. As it’s water-soluble, you can take it at any time of day, with or without food. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and heat, so it’s essential to store it in a cool, dark place.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that supports immune system function and bone health. It also helps regulate your nervous system and promotes better relaxation and sleep. Exposure to sunlight helps the body produce all the Vitamin D it needs, which is a great excuse to get out in the fresh air for at least 30 minutes a day – just don’t forget to cover up and wear sunscreen if it’s too hot. However, if you’re worried you might not be getting enough Vitamin D, then taking a supplement with a meal containing fat (a glass of full-fat milk or smoothie will also suffice) will keep you topped up.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant vital for healthy circulation and immune system function. It can also help ease the symptoms of digestive illnesses like IBS, Cystic Fibrosis and Crohn’s Disease. Most fats contain Vitamin E, so you’ll likely get enough from your diet if you follow the recommended nutritional guidelines. However, if you feel you still need a Vitamin E supplement, you can take one a day with food that contains fat. Keep in mind that too much Vitamin E can lower your Vitamin D absorption.
You need Vitamin K for effective blood clotting, bone development and heart health. It’s another fat-soluble vitamin you can get mostly from your diet, but if you need to take a Vitamin K supplement, it’s best taken at any time of day, with a meal or snack containing fat. Taking too much Vitamin K can be harmful, so you should only take high-dose supplements if your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare provider recommends it.
Minerals – including Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Potassium – are all water-soluble, so they do not require enzymatic digestion. They’re absorbed directly into the bloodstream, so can be taken with water at any time of the day, either with or without food. You can check out the different types of minerals and the roles they play in your body in our simple explainer.
Check out these links to find out more: