The Best Time to Take Your Vitamins

Written by Krista Bugden
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

September 21, 2023

The best time to take vitamins depends on which ones you’re taking. Some are best absorbed with a meal, while others can be taken at any time. In this blog, you’ll learn the guidelines for when to take soluble, insoluble, and prenatal vitamins.

Adding new vitamins to your routine can feel tricky, but once you understand the best time to take your vitamins each day, you can make it a consistent part of your routine without a second thought.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the different types of vitamins, the ideal time of day to take them, and whether they should be taken with or without food.

When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?

Most vitamins can be taken whenever it is most convenient for you. For example, most people take their vitamins in the morning alongside breakfast. However, for some vitamins, you may want to consider when and how to take them to ensure the best absorption possible. As always, check with your doctor or healthcare provider before changing or starting your vitamin routine.

Now let’s take a look at the different types of vitamins and their specific considerations.

When to Take Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins, as the name suggests, dissolve in water (1). This means that they don’t have to be taken with food. 

The nine water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and vitamin B complex—which includes thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin (1). We must consume these vitamins regularly since the body cannot store them. This means excess consumption of these vitamins is lost through urine.

Vitamin C

As we all know, vitamin C is essential for immune health. But that’s not all; vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant and is essential for the production of various neurotransmitters and collagen (2). 

In supplement form, vitamin C is found in ascorbic acid, liposomal vitamin C, and calcium ascorbate forms. While you can take these supplements at any time, consuming them with food may help reduce any potential digestive side effects. 

Vitamin B Complex

You can find vitamin B supplements sold altogether as a “complex” or offered as individual supplements. Similar to vitamin C and due to their water solubility, this supplement can be taken at any time. 

However, it may be more beneficial to take vitamin B early on in the day for ample energy production and good metabolic function (3).

When to Take Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins can be absorbed only with the presence of fat (4). This means that fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K should be taken alongside a fat-containing meal (e.g., eggs, avocado, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy).

Vitamin A

While vitamin A deficiency is uncommon, individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have cystic fibrosis or a gastrointestinal disorder may experience reduced absorption or increased vitamin A needs (5).

This means that if you eat a balanced and healthy diet, this supplement isn’t usually necessary. However, if you’ve been recommended to take it by your doctor, be sure to consume it with a meal containing fat.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem worldwide. Yet, this vitamin is necessary for proper bone development and health, immunity, and more (6).

While a vitamin D supplement can be taken at any time of the day, it’s best consumed alongside a fat-containing meal for optimal absorption. Research even shows that doing so can increase the absorption of this vitamin by 32% (7).

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that also contributes to cardiovascular health (8). While deficiency is rare, some individuals with cystic fibrosis or gastrointestinal conditions may have trouble absorbing this vitamin from the food they eat. This is where vitamin E supplementation may be beneficial.

While vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, research suggests that it doesn’t necessarily need to be taken with a fatty meal. Studies show that for optimal absorption, total fat intake throughout the day is what matters most (9). In other words, as long as you eat fat throughout the day, you don’t necessarily need to have it with a vitamin E supplement.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important for bone health, blood clotting, and more. This is another vitamin where deficiency is rare. However, for those with bleeding or gastrointestinal disorders, supplementation may be necessary (10).

Vitamin K supplements are best absorbed when taken alongside a meal containing fat.

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When to Take Prenatal Vitamins

For women who wish to become pregnant—or who could become pregnant—experts recommend taking 0.4-0.8 milligrams of folic acid each day (11). Folic acid can often be taken with a glass of water on an empty stomach. 

However, since most prenatal vitamins also contain iron and calcium, it’s best to take them with some food. Otherwise, taking them on an empty stomach may cause nausea or indigestion (12). As always, it’s recommended to take the advice of your specific healthcare provider when it comes to recommendations regarding the right prenatal supplement for you.

The Best Time to Take Other Supplements

Other commonly recommended and consumed supplements include iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Here are the best times to take these:

  • Iron is best taken with a snack or meal to aid absorption and prevent an upset stomach. Consuming iron with a food, drink or supplement source of vitamin A or C can also enhance absorption.
  • Calcium is also best taken with food since stomach acid will help break it down and aid absorption.
  • Zinc is best absorbed when taken an hour or two before meals. Yet, if you find it’s not sitting well in your stomach, taking it alongside a meal is also okay.
  • Magnesium can be taken in the morning or before bed. Often, it’s best to take these supplements with food due to the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms. Yet, some individuals may not have these side effects.
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When to Take Vitamins Chart

Here’s an easy breakdown of when to take your vitamins and supplements:

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Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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