The best time to take supplements depends on whether they’re water-soluble or fat-soluble and if they might disturb sleep when taken late in the day. This article explains which nutrients are better absorbed with a meal and which ones can keep you awake at night.
Read on to learn the best times to take your vitamins and minerals.
Best Times to Take Vitamins and Minerals
Our bodies need 13 essential vitamins and 15 essential minerals to function properly. Each has a unique job in the body. It’s recommended we get as many of these as possible from a diverse, nutrient-dense diet. It’s also recommended we supplement our healthy diets – especially as we grow and in our older years – to ensure that we get the nutrients we need for proper development and to stay healthy.
Our essential vitamins are A, C, D, E, and K, and B vitamins including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxal (B6), cobalamin (B12), biotin, and folate/folic acid. Our essential minerals are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, sulfur, cobalt, copper, fluoride, manganese, and selenium.
When we’re using supplements to fill nutrient gaps in our diets and compensate for our declining ability to absorb them in senior years (B12, calcium, and D), it matters when we take them. Most water-soluble vitamins and most minerals can be taken anytime with water, but fat-soluble vitamins work best when taken with a meal. That said, some water-soluble vitamins may disrupt sleep if taken at night.
Water-soluble Vitamins and Minerals | Almost Anytime
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and therefore don’t need to be taken with a meal. They’re not stored in the body’s tissues (excesses are excreted in urine), so we typically need to take them more often, like morning and afternoon. However, sustained-release technology helps water-soluble nutrients last longer in the body because they’re released slowly over 5-8 hours. Our blue label indicates sustained-release technology and the orange label is for extended-release supplements containing B3. Both use the same controlled-release technology.
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 and minerals sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur. Trace minerals, which our bodies require small amounts of, are also water soluble. They are iron, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, fluoride, manganese, and molybdenum. Most of these are in our sustained-release ENDUR-VM® Multi-Vitamin and Mineral supplement.
While studies find a lack of certain nutrients can be linked to sleep disruption, taking some of them in the afternoon or evening may also cause insomnia. Nutrients that may keep us awake at night include B12, higher doses of D, potassium, and coenzyme Q10. The best time to take these supplements is in the morning.
Fat-soluble Vitamins | Best with Food
As the name suggests, fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed when taken with a meal containing fat. They’re found naturally in high-fat foods and are better absorbed into the bloodstream when taken with fat. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Other nutrients best absorbed with food are omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. To take a fat-soluble vitamin outside of mealtime, try a snack like full-fat yogurt, nuts, chia seeds, avocado, or cheese.
What about supplements that have both water-soluble and fat-soluble nutrients like a multi-vitamin? It’s ideal to take mixed nutrients like ENDUR-VM® Multi-Vitamin and Mineral earlier in the day with a meal. It releases nutrients for 4-6 hours to promote absorption and retention and contains B12.
Questions about specific supplements? Check the label and follow the recommendations. As always, please talk to your health care provider about individual health concerns or medication interactions.