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Are Your Supplements Early Birds or Night Owls?

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) More than fifty percent of adults in the United States take dietary supplements, but many people don't consider when is the best time to take them. Among the most popular supplements – including multivitamins, B-complex vitamins, calcium, and vitamins C, D, and E – are ones that offer more benefits when taken in the morning while others are best taken at night. Some vitamins and minerals should also be taken with meals.

Early Bird Vitamins

Few people bounce out of bed full of energy ready to start their day. B vitamins in the morning not only replenish your body's stores of the important substances but also give you an energy boost. The extra energy is not only a good reason to take them in the AM, it's a good argument for why you shouldn't take them night when you need to sleep.

However, B vitamins can irritate some people's stomachs if taken without food. Solve the problem by waiting until breakfast. If you eat something with a little fat, it could help your body absorb the vitamins better. Fat-soluble vitamins are particularly best absorbed when taken at the same time you consume some dietary fat. This type includes vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. A lot of multivitamins and mineral complexes include substances that should be taken with meals, so taking your multi with breakfast could also be a good idea.

Midday Supplements

Not every vitamin or mineral is best taken with breakfast or at night. As a mid-morning snack, or with an early lunch, you can take green tea extract to boost fat burning. This is especially beneficial for exercisers as the polyphenols in green tree extract assist with muscle and joint recovery. Although there's no reason not to also have a cup of green tea, studies show that the body doesn't absorb enough polyphenols from drinks, at least not like it does from supplements.


Night Owl Micronutrients

Magnesium is an excellent mineral to take at night near bedtime because it could help you sleep better. Research suggests that the body best absorbs vitamin D after, not during, the largest meal of the day, which for most people is dinner. Some research favors taking vitamin A at night as well.

However, if you tend to eat the most at lunch, you should make vitamin D a midday supplements. Vitamin D should always be taken with food even if you can't pair it with your biggest meal as having food in your stomach can boost absorption by more than 50 percent.

Working out causes people to lose micronurtients, so it makes sense for exercisers to take a second dose of important substances like calcium, and vitamins C and D at dinnertime; however, some experts recommend breaking up supplements dosages in two for everyone. The Federal Drug Administration is in favor of divided doses, suggesting half at breakfast and the rest with supper. People who take a lot of supplements get the most benefit of splitting their doses. 

Although these recommendations could benefit you, they are not meant to overrule the time recommendations given by supplement manufacturers or your health care provider. You should also consider that every person's body is different, and you should ask your doctor about taking certain supplements at different times if you're experiencing nausea, heartburn, or other discomfort. Also, don't forget that even though dietary supplements are natural, they could still interact with prescription medications. Your pharmacist could help you set up a schedule to safely work around any prescription drugs.

See also:

Food Based Supplements are Best

UK Data Finds Prescription Drugs 62,000 Times More Likely to Kill You Than Supplements

Herbal Supplement for HIV/AIDS is Successful in Clinical Trial

The Best Years in Life Complete Supplements Catalog

The Calcium Supplement Problem: As Serious As A Heart Attack

Natural Weight Loss Supplements That Really Work

Fish Oil Supplements Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Supplementing for Gray Hair



About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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