The best time to take many vitamins and minerals may be in the morning, with a meal. However, there are a few supplements that may help you sleep better when taken shortly before bedtime. Therefore, the best time for you to take your vitamins will depend on exactly which vitamins you’re taking, and on the health effects you hope to gain from taking them.
Vitamins that may be better when taken in the morning include:
- Vitamin C
- Certain B vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-3 (niacin)
Some people find that vitamins and minerals can cause upset digestion and even diarrhea if taken on an empty stomach. Therefore, it’s generally better to take vitamin and mineral supplements with a meal, unless you’re advised differently by your doctor.
Here’s a rundown of the best times to take specific vitamins and minerals, the best time to take multivitamins, and which supplements should be taken along with some fat calories.
1. VITAMIN A
Vitamin A helps to maintain your vision, organs, and reproductive system. There’s no evidence that it’s better to take vitamin A in the morning or in the evening, so take your vitamin A supplement whenever it’s most convenient for you.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene both are fat-soluble, so that means you need to take them with a source of fat. In most cases, this means taking your vitamin A with a meal, and in fact, many manufacturers of vitamin A supplements recommend taking the products with a meal.
2. B Vitamins
B vitamins—which include thiamine, folic acid, and riboflavin—help your body function properly and stay healthy. When your levels of certain B vitamins are too low, you might find that you’re more tired than you should be. Confusion and anemia also can occur in severe cases, depending on which B vitamins you’re lacking
Most people take B vitamins as a group, either in a multivitamin capsule or in a specific B vitamin supplement.
There’s a little evidence that certain B vitamins can interfere with sleep
Based on all of this, you may be better off taking B vitamins in the morning. But if B vitamins as a group don’t seem to bother your sleep and it’s more convenient for you to take them in the evening, that should be fine, as well.
3. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C helps your immune system function more effectively, and also plays an important role in helping protect your cells from the dangers of free radicals. It’s water-soluble, so you don’t need to take it with a meal. However, some people find vitamin C, especially in larger doses, can upset their stomachs and possibly even cause diarrhea.
Taking this supplement with a meal can help, and taking a buffered type of vitamin C also can help if you find your digestive system is bothered by it.
You’ve probably heard that calcium builds strong bones and that many people don’t consume enough of it. Adults and children 4 and older need between 1,000 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day, and many people (especially those who don’t drink much milk or eat calcium-supplemented foods) don’t get that much.
Ideally, you shouldn’t take calcium at the same time as an iron-containing multivitamin or magnesium, since your body might not absorb it as well. However, some research indicates that calcium may help you fall asleep, and many supplement products combine calcium and magnesium into one (often very large) pill. You’ll need to decide what’s best for you
Magnesium, a mineral, works in your body to regulate nerve function, control blood pressure, and build bone (in conjunction with calcium). Most people get enough magnesium, but magnesium deficiency can cause nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and weakness
Out of all the vitamins and minerals you can take, magnesium is the one that’s best taken at night. That’s because magnesium promotes sound, healthy sleep when it’s taken close to bedtime. In people who suffer from leg cramps at night, magnesium also may help to alleviate that problem.
Multivitamins combine what researchers consider to be the most important vitamins and minerals into one easy-to-take daily pill (or, in some cases, several daily pills). It’s common for multivitamins to include vitamin C, some or all B vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus minerals such as zinc, selenium, and copper.
There’s no “best” time to take your multivitamin, although many people take a multivitamin in the morning, especially if they have other morning medications to take. You definitely should take your multivitamin with food, though, since some of the vitamins in it most likely are fat-soluble. Some larger multivitamin supplements can cause stomach upset if taken on an empty stomach, as well
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