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The timing of nutritional supplements

Reading Time: 2 minutes

When is the best time to take them?

Taking your supplements at the ‘wrong’ time doesn’t mean they won’t work, but for optimum effect there are certain key times when you should take different vitamins and minerals. The ‘correct’ timing can help in terms of bio-availability and there are optimal times when the body will process and absorb them best.

Water soluble B and C Vitamins

Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning that it will dissolve and be more easily processed in water than in fat. It’s not naturally produced or stored by the body. For this reason, it’s best to take it daily and in small doses, spread throughout the day, as larger doses will simply be expelled.

B Vitamins are also water soluble and are known for their role in boosting energy and reducing stress. There are eight different types (thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin-B6, niacin, biotin, vitamin B-12, folic acid and pantothenic acid) which each have a separate function on the body. B vitamins are vital elements in metabolism and are best taken on an empty stomach, straight after you wake up, as this helps with their absorption.1

Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K

These vitamins are fat soluble, meaning that, unlike vitamins B and C, they will not disperse in water, but require a small amount of fat to help with absorption instead. They are, therefore, best consumed with a meal that contains some element of fat, such as olive oil, whole milk or full-fat yoghurt, nuts or cheese.

But what about multivitamins that are both water AND fat soluble?

It’s impractical to separate all of your vitamins out throughout the day, particularly if you take a good quality multivitamin. Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s absolutely fine to take your vitamins with a meal – just try to ensure that the fat content isn’t too high and that there is adequate water included so that both the water and fat soluble vitamins can be effectively absorbed.


As higher amounts of zinc can cause stomach upsets it’s also better not to take it on an empty stomach. Taking zinc with meals rich in calcium or iron isn’t recommended as these minerals can all fight for receptor sites. Iron should also not be taken together with calcium as this can reduce its absorption2 and it’s best taken on an empty stomach. That being said, iron can cause nausea and stomach cramps so depending on how sensitive you are to it, it may be necessary to take it with a small amount of food or a glass of orange juice, as vitamin C can help its absorption.


Probiotics help to populate and keep the number of good bacteria in your gut high, while fighting the bad bacteria. They’re best taken around half an hour before eating to prevent them being overpowered by the digestion process and giving them a better chance to reach your gut.

The role of vitamins in natural health can help to give your body an added boost and while timing isn’t everything, for optimal effects it’s advisable to follow the top tips whenever possible.

  1. Medical News Today: When is the best time to take vitamins? []
  2. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust: Taking Iron Supplements []