Skipped Breakfast But Want to Take Your Vitamins? Understand the Effects of Vitamins on an Empty Stomach

On This Page

    If you missed a meal and you still want to take your daily vitamins, it’s important to know the facts. Read on to learn more.

    What happens if you take vitamins on an empty stomach?

    We all know the feeling of being in a bit of a rush and possibly missing a meal. If you do, is it still okay to take your vitamin supplements? The answer to this question really depends on which kinds of vitamins you’re taking.

    There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Both types are vitally important for the health of our bodies. When you’re not getting enough of these vitamins in your diet, it’s sometimes recommended that you take them in the form of vitamin supplements.

    The fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. They dissolve in the body, and they’re stored in the body and carried throughout the bloodstream. It is generally recommended that these vitamins be taken with meals, which helps the body be better able to absorb them. Moreover, taking these vitamins on an empty stomach has the potential to cause some digestive discomfort.

    Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, can be taken on an empty stomach without much risk of discomfort. These vitamins – vitamin C and all the B vitamins – dissolve in water and are metabolized more quickly than fat-soluble vitamins. Still, if you’re taking your vitamins all together – fat-soluble and water-soluble alike – it may still be preferable to take these vitamins with food.

    While taking vitamins on an empty stomach won’t likely lead to major health issues, it can cause some discomfort that you probably want to avoid. If you’re worried, don’t overthink it: Have your supplement with a meal or a snack.

    Do vitamins absorb better on an empty stomach?

    The answer to this question, again, depends upon which type of vitamins you’re taking.

    Water-soluble vitamins can sometimes be better absorbed by your body on an empty stomach. This is because your body is able to take what it needs from these vitamins and release the rest in your urine; food is not required for maximum absorption.

    Iron – the mineral responsible for carrying oxygen through your body – is also best taken on an empty stomach, between meals. It can also be taken with a small snack. You should also be mindful to take iron away from calcium, since they compete for the same receptors in your body and can inhibit absorption. Iron deficiency is more common in particular groups of people, including vegetarians and pregnant women.

    When it comes to the fat-soluble vitamins, though, you should be sure to take them with meals. For maximum absorption, you’ll want to consider taking them with meals rich in fats. Doing so also decreases your risk of experiencing nausea and an upset stomach.

    Which vitamins are fine to take on an empty stomach?

    It is generally fine to take water-soluble vitamin supplements on an empty stomach. However, if you’re finding that you’re experiencing digestive discomfort, you may want to take them with food of some kind.

    Are there any vitamins that are better to take on an empty stomach?

    The water-soluble vitamins – vitamin C and the B vitamins – can sometimes be better to take on an empty stomach, making them ideal for a first-thing-in-the-morning routine.

    Are there any vitamins or supplements that are especially bad to take on an empty stomach?

    Zinc is an important nutrient that supports healthy immune function and digestion, the richest food sources of which are meat, fish, and seafood. Taking a zinc supplement on an empty stomach, though, has been shown to have the side effect of an upset stomach. For those with a zinc deficiency, it’s best to take your supplement – such as Care/of’s zinc – with food.

    Fat-soluble vitamin supplements will be harder to absorb on an empty stomach, and they can also lead to an upset stomach.

    Should I take vitamins with a glass of water?

    Staying hydrated is crucial for your overall health and the optimal functioning of your body. When you’re taking supplements, getting enough water can be especially important.

    While some vitamins should be taken along with a meal, virtually all vitamins should be taken with water, or at least some kind of fluid. Some people prefer taking their supplements with fresh pressed juices, which can be good for an extra boost of antioxidants.

    This study suggests that the average person needs 2.5-3.5 liters of water per day, while other researchers suggest that half of one’s body weight in ounces should be the desired goal.

    What’s the best time to take vitamins?

    The best time to take vitamins totally depends on which vitamins you’re taking and what your overall wellness goals are.

    Since water-soluble vitamins can be taken on an empty stomach and some, like the B vitamins, are shown to boost energy, they may be best taken first thing in the morning. The fat-soluble vitamins, being better absorbed with meals, can be taken at various meal times throughout the day.

    Consistency, though, is the key. You should develop a habit that works for you. If you want to take all of your vitamins at once, you may want to do so in the morning, with a small meal; that way, the water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins can be taken without issue.

    For more on the best time to take vitamins, you can check out this thorough Care/of explainer.

    Key takeaways

    Taking vitamins on an empty stomach can create problems for absorption, as well as some digestive discomfort. This is especially true when it comes to the fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK). Fat-soluble vitamins are best taken along with meals rich in healthy fats, which can increase the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients. Water-soluble vitamins can typically be taken on an empty stomach without any issues, and some registered dietitians will even recommend this. The key to any healthy supplement routine is consistency. Talk to your doctor about the best way for you to meet your vitamin and nutrient needs.

    You're unique. Your supplements should be too.

    Take the quiz
    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.