With or without eating? Which is better, morning or night? When you should take your vitamins, the answer varies based on the supplement you’re taking.
Dietary supplements are being used by many Americans than ever before, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2019 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. More than three-quarters (77%) of Americans surveyed said they take dietary supplements.
Dietary supplements are most commonly consumed by adults aged 35 to 54. Vitamins and minerals were the most preferred supplement category, with 76 percent of those surveyed saying they had used them in the previous months.
However, the majority of research and nutrition expert advice indicate that most people don’t need to take vitamins and minerals. “I normally don’t recommend additional multivitamin supplements when patients are able to obtain a balanced diet consisting of a range of foods, including fruits and vegetables,” she says. Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian and representative for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the bariatric surgery coordinator for Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta.
As a result, the first thing to ask whether you’re taking or considering taking supplements is whether you actually need them. As a result, the first thing to ask if you’re taking or considering taking supplements is whether you actually need them. It is advisable to speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist to determine whether you can fulfill your nutritional needs only through food; secondly, whether you should supplement with a multivitamin or individual nutrient due to a health condition, diet gap, or risk of deficiency due to a medication interaction; “and thirdly, if the supplement could possibly be harmful.” According to Melissa Majumdar, a registered dietitian and metabolic and bariatric coordinator at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta and a speaker for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Smith explains. “A vitamin supplement can undoubtedly benefit some people. “I may prescribe a multivitamin to help augment a patient’s micronutrient consumption if they are pregnant, have malabsorption or a history of intestinal surgery, are unable to consume a balanced diet, or have a recognized deficiency,”.
If you’re taking a dietary supplement, whether you need it or not, there are some principles to follow in order to get the most out of it. These can include things like when to take a supplement, whether to take it with or without meal, and how to prevent overloading it on a vitamin, which can be unhealthy.
Speak with a Medical professional or a Nutritionist.
Once you’ve decided if you need or want a supplement, see a doctor or nutritionist about the best time to take it, “based on the specific aim of the supplement,” Majumdar adds. Smith says that a health care practitioner can assist you in developing a specific vitamin regimen program.
In order to avoid an upset stomach, most people should take a high-dose multivitamin/multimineral with meal. “If consumed on an empty stomach, nutrients included in multivitamins such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins might make someone feel nauseous,” Majumdar explains. So take your vitamin or mineral at a mealtime or with snacks.
However, not all snacks or meals are suitable. Taking supplements with foods high in phytates or tannins, on the other hand, can hinder absorption, according to Majumdar. “Phytate-rich foods include whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, which are good for your overall diet but not for supplement pairing.” Plants store phosphorus in phytates, which link to minerals and make absorption difficult. “Take the multivitamin/multimineral two hours after a meal so that your stomach isn’t fully empty but the phytates don’t interfere with absorption,” she suggests.
According to Smith, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, and K are better absorbed when combined with a fat-containing food like olive oil, nut butter, or avocado.
The evidence isn’t clear on when to take vitamins. However, depending on the vitamin or mineral, some mealtimes are better than others. “While the timing of when you take some vitamins is essential, it is not required for all of them to be taken into considerations “Decide what’s best for you with the help of your health care provider,” Smith advises.
When Should You Take Your Vitamins?
To clarify, a well-balanced diet provides most people with all of the vitamins they require. However, a few vitamins are frequently taken as supplements, and it’s critical to know how to do so safely and successfully.
Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach, according to Majumdar, although it can be difficult to handle, resulting in nausea, constipation, and indigestion. “Try it on an empty stomach first, and if that doesn’t work, try it before bed,” she advises.
Absorption can also be improved by taking iron in smaller quantities, more evenly spaced dosages throughout the day. “The side effects are usually minor enough to sleep through, and you can enhance absorption by avoiding meals a few hours before bed. Iron competes with calcium and zinc for absorption in the small intestine, so taking it at least two hours apart from these nutrients is ideal,” she explains.
Because multivitamins often contain iron, if you have a true iron shortage, you should consider taking iron separately. But watch out for overdosing. “Excess iron is stored in the liver and can be harmful if taken in large amounts,” Majumdar explains. “Consult a medical expert, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist, before taking iron.”
For all age categories of men and postmenopausal women, the Recommended Dietary Allowance – or the National Food and Nutrition Board’s advised dietary intake – is 8 milligrams per day; for premenopausal women, the RDA is 18 milligrams per day. According to the National Institute of Health, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level – the highest dose that can be taken without risking overdose or major side effects – for people is 45 mg per day.
Heme iron, which can be found in meat and other animal products, is more easily absorbed than nonheme iron, which can be found in vegetarian foods such as nuts, seeds, and beans. “Taking iron with heme-iron-rich foods, such as dark flesh chicken or red meat, can help with absorption of nonheme iron, the kind found in supplements,” she explains.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as peppers, oranges, melons, and kiwis, can help with iron absorption. If you have been diagnosed with an iron deficiency, make sure to take your iron supplements together with vitamin C-rich meals or supplements. Consider drinking a glass of orange juice with your iron pill first thing in the morning.
Calcium is a mineral that is found in many foods according to Majumdar, many adults and children do not get enough calcium from food. (The National Institutes of Health recommends doses ranging from 1,000 milligrams to 1,300 milligrams per day for children ages 4 to 8 and pregnant or lactating mothers.) Not only is calcium frequently inadequate, but it also requires vitamin D for absorption. “And, because vitamin D deficiency is one of the most frequent deficiencies in Americans, one should have their vitamin D levels evaluated first,” Majumdar advises. “Calcium will not be properly absorbed if not treated, and the body will borrow calcium from the bones to maintain blood levels.”
According to Smith, calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, and magnesium, so “consider taking calcium at least two hours apart” from those minerals. It’s also vital to consider the calcium’s form. “Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food, but calcium carbonate must be broken down in an acidic environment, so taking it with food can help with calcium digestion,” Majumdar explains.
Because the body can’t absorb more than 500 to 600 milligrams at a time, Smith suggests taking calcium in divided amounts throughout the day.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for muscle, neuron, and immune system function in addition to helping the body absorb calcium and keeping bones strong. This vitamin is produced by the skin in response to sunshine, but many people, particularly those living in northern latitudes during the winter, do not produce enough of it. Similarly, only fortified foods, such as cereals and milk products, contain vitamin D. Supplements can be beneficial, but too many can be hazardous, causing everything from stomach upset to kidney failure, abnormal heartbeats, and death in extreme cases. For everyone over the age of 9, the upper limit is 100 micrograms per day, so talk to a dietitian or doctor before using this or any other dietary supplement.