Vitamins are essential for maintaining your health. They help your body fight infections, keep your nerves healthy, and help with blood clotting, among other important tasks. Vitamins also help reduce stress and boost your energy levels.
Doctors recommend multivitamins for certain vitamin deficiencies. If you're taking a vitamin supplement for any type of vitamin deficiency, you should try to take it at a time when your body can best absorb it.
Should you take vitamins in the morning or at night?
The timing of taking supplements is a concern for many people. First, you should know that the best time to take your vitamins is when your body's absorption is at its maximum.
Some people claim that it's better to take vitamins at night because your body gets food and nutrition throughout the day. They argue that taking vitamins at night will be more beneficial for your body as it will absorb the vitamins when you are asleep.
However, taking your supplements at night isn't a good practice because your digestion and metabolism slow down when you're asleep. This means that when you take vitamins at night, they are not absorbed as efficiently as during the day.
The best time to take vitamins really depends on the type of vitamin you're taking. Some vitamins should be taken in the morning for maximum absorption. Others, especially those that promote relaxation, are best taken before you go to bed.
When to take vitamins?
Since vitamins should be taken when they can be best absorbed by your body, here's a breakdown of when certain vitamins should be taken.
In the morning
All B vitamins (except for folate) are involved in your body's processes of producing energy. Therefore, supplements of these vitamins may have an energizing effect. For example, it's better to take vitamin B12 in the morning for this reason.
It's also important to take vitamin B6 during the day. When taken at night, it can interfere with sleep and cause vivid dreams.
In the evening
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and has many benefits for people who have trouble sleeping. Since vitamin E has a neuroprotective effect, it is best to take it in the evenings or at night. You can take vitamin E supplements with dinner or just before you go to bed.
Some vitamins — notably, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K — should be taken with food for maximum absorption. Vitamin D should ideally be taken with the largest meal of the day.
You should also take supplements such as calcium, magnesium, and iron with meals as they may upset your stomach if you take them on an empty stomach.
To reduce the chances of upsetting your stomach, taking vitamins with food to aid digestion and improve absorption is wise.
On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins — the B vitamins and vitamin C, especially — are best absorbed on an empty stomach. Taking these before a meal such as breakfast is ideal.
Side effects of vitamins
The best way to consume vitamins is by eating plenty of vitamin-rich foods. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat, and dairy products. Vitamin supplements may cause minor adverse effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and flatulence.
Nausea and chronic abdominal pain have been linked with taking too much of any vitamin or mineral. An overdose of vitamin C, for example, can cause stomach cramps.
To avoid these side effects, it's best to meet the recommended intake of vitamins through a healthy and well-balanced diet. Foods such as fruits and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of many essential vitamins.
Who should take multivitamins?
Adults may benefit the most from taking multivitamins. Absorption of vitamin B12 and vitamin D decreases with age, so adults should take supplements of these vitamins.
People eating vegan and vegetarian diets should also take vitamin and nutritional supplements. This is because their diets usually do not have enough omega-3s, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, or calcium.
There is limited evidence regarding the benefits of taking vitamin supplements. But if you're prescribed a supplement for any vitamin deficiency, remember to ask your doctor or pharmacist when it should be taken. They will let you know the best time to take it for optimal absorption.
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The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: "Taking vitamin D with the largest meal improves absorption and results in higher serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D."
Cleveland Clinic: "The Best Time to Take Vitamins."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Listing of vitamins," "The best foods for vitamins and minerals."
National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health: "Vitamins and Minerals."
National Health Service: "Do I need vitamin supplements?"
National Institutes of Health: "Too much of a good thing? Toxic effects of vitamin and mineral supplements."
National Library of Medicine: "Dietary Supplements and Sports Performance: Introduction and Vitamins," "Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep," "Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview," "The neuroprotective effect of vitamin E on chronic sleep deprivation-induced memory impairment: the role of oxidative stress," "Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence."
StatPearls: "Biochemistry, Water Soluble Vitamins."
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