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When should I take my supplements?

The best time to take your vitamins depends on the type you’re taking. Some vitamins are best taken after a meal, while it’s best to take others on an empty stomach. Establishing a routine of taking a vitamin at the same time every day will form a healthy habit. It will also help you get the most out of your vitamin supplement.

Here are some of the best practices for taking common supplements.

B vitamins: For a good start to your day, take a B vitamin on an empty stomach when you first wake up. B vitamins are a special family of water-soluble vitamins that are energy-boosting and stress-busting. Some of the most popular B vitamins are B2, B6, and B12. B vitamins have been clinically proven to reduce the amount of stress you feel and improve your mood.

Water-soluble vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins absorb best on an empty stomach. The best times to take these vitamins are first thing in the morning, 30 minutes prior to eating or two hours after a meal. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water so your body can use them. Vitamin C, all B vitamins, and folate (folic acid) are water soluble. Your body takes the amount of the vitamin it needs and flushes out the rest through urine. Since your body doesn’t store these vitamins, it’s a good idea to incorporate them into your diet or take a supplement.

Fat-soluble vitamins: The optimal time to take fat-soluble vitamins is with your largest meal which tends to be the evening meal of the day for most people. Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved in our bodies using fats. They are then carried into our bloodstream and perform essential functions. These vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E and vitamin D. When our bodies get extra fat-soluble vitamins, they are stored in the liver. These vitamins are best taken with a meal that contains saturated fats or oils to help you absorb them.

Probiotics: Though research indicates that more bacteria survive if you take probiotics before a meal, consistency is probably more important than specific timing when it comes to reaping the greatest benefits for your gut. If for any reason you are taking antibiotics for a health condition, a quick rule of thumb is to take your probiotic two hours before or two hours after taking your antibiotic. This will give sufficient time for the antibiotic to work while not killing off the beneficial bacteria.

Fish oil: There is no incorrect time of day to take fish oil supplements. However, some evidence suggests that people absorb omega-3 fatty acids more effectively when they take them with a meal that contains dietary fats such as soy, corn, nuts, seeds and fish.

Enzymes: Once foods are broken down, nutrients are absorbed into your body through the wall of the small intestine and distributed through the bloodstream. Because enzyme vitamins are meant to mimic your natural enzymes, they must be taken just before you eat. This allows the vitamins to do their work as food hits your stomach and small intestine.

Because every supplement breaks down in your body the same way, it’s a good idea to know if you’re taking your vitamin at a time of day that will give you the most benefit. n

Kimberly Stoeger, MS, is the clinical nutritionist and owner of Nutritional Healing, LLC. Her passion lies in supporting people’s health through evidence-based medicine (risks versus benefits of medications) and healing therapies through nutrition. Kimberly has her masters of science in human nutrition degree, and experience working with clients regarding weight and fatigue issues, food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, and general health concerns such as high blood pressure, high glucose levels, high cholesterol/triglycerides, migraines, thyroid conditions, and gut dysfunction. To learn more, call 920-358-5764 or email [email protected].

“Metabolic syndrome is increasingly common, and up to one-third of U.S. adults have it.”

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