The Best Times to Take Vitamins and Supplements [infographic]
A lot of people understand the crucial role of vitamins and minerals play in helping the body work properly, but did you know timing can boost or diminish their effectiveness?
Research from Healthspan, a UK vitamins and supplements supplier, makes a compelling case for paying attention to the clock when crafting your supplement routine. The company brought together a number of studies to produce this go-to guide on the best times to take certain vitamins and supplements throughout the day.
When You Should Take Your Vitamins and Supplements?
Highlights of the research includes that there are some vitamins for which bedtime is a perfect time. For instance, calcium is a perfect example. Calcium is utilized by the body at night, and is a natural muscle relaxant thought to promote sleep. Research shows low calcium levels are associated with disturbed sleep patterns, including the lack of a deep REM sleep phase. Calcium works hand-in-hand with magnesium, which also has a calming effect on both the muscles and nervous system, and may therefore be beneficial in getting a good night’s sleep. I personally don’t use calcium and don’t really recommend you take it if you’re already eating a well-rounded diet. But magnesium is important, and you should take it before bed.
Probiotics are another supplement that can be taken as part of a bedtime regime. These ideally need to be taken away from food to avoid interference with digestive enzymes and stomach acid. I personally don’t use probiotics unless I’m traveling, since I tend to eat lots of fermented foods when I’m at home.
For many supplements, a meal is necessary for adequate uptake by the body, and this is why you will see “take with food” on many labels. There are a group of vitamins called fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E & K – these are the type of fats I personally get through using a fat-vitamin packed fish liver oil called “SuperEssentials“. These need fat in order to be absorbed, and therefore should be taken with meals that contain dietary fat.
B vitamins and vitamin C are recommended to be taken with food; in some individuals they can cause stomach acidity and mild nausea if taken on an empty stomach. B vitamins are important for the conversion of food into energy and are therefore best taken early in the day. Typically, if I need a bit of an extra kick or immune system boost during the day, I use a combination of B & C called “Lifeshotz“, and take it about an hour after breakfast.
Iron should ideally be taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption, and away from other supplements that may affect its absorption such as calcium and vitamin E. First thing in the morning is therefore the best time. Iron supplements can cause stomach upsets in some individuals, in which case it should be taken with a light meal.
In conclusion, you can see that the timing of when you take your supplements can significantly affect the way in which your body can absorb and utilize your nutrients. While bedtime may be the most convenient option, it may be worth setting some reminders on your phone (e.g. using a Vitamin Reminder phone app) or refrigerator to ensure that you get the full benefits from your supplements throughout the day.
What are your thoughts? What supplements do you take? Do you have questions about my daily supplement protocol? Do you think supplements are a waste of time? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below the infographic!
[via New Hope 360 and Ben Greenfield Fitness]