Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
6 min read
Typically there are no hard and fast rules about when to take your vitamins, though most people tend to take them first thing in the morning. But there are some things to know about vitamins that might influence your decision.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, so you do not need to take them with food in order for them to be absorbed into your system. Excess water soluble vitamins are not stored in your body’s tissues, however. Instead, they are expelled through your urine. It is important that you take them with regularity so that healthy levels can be maintained. And since they are water-soluble, they can be taken at any time on an empty stomach.
B vitamins, both individually and complex, are water-soluble and can be taken at any time, though it is recommended that people with B deficiencies take them on an empty stomach to ensure maximum absorption. It is not unusual for B supplements to increase your energy especially if you are deficient. If you experience this, it is probably best to take them in the morning.
C vitamins are also water-soluble and can be taken at any time on an empty stomach, though some prefer to take with food for optimal absorption. It is important to note that any amount of vitamin C taken over the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 1,000 mg will, if not needed, be expelled in your urine.
Prenatals contain vitamins that are both water- and fat-soluble and most pregnant people take them in the morning with breakfast. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the best time for you to take them.
Some supplements contain caffeine, which can be a stimulant and possibly disrupt sleep. These are best taken in the morning.
Magnesium and calcium are frequently used in tandem as a nighttime supplement. The minerals are known to help with muscle contraction and relaxation, and deficiencies of either have been known to contribute to sleep disruptions. They are available over-the-counter separately and together and in capsule or powder form.
Melatonin is a hormone that is frequently used to help with sleep issues. Care/of’s Sleep Blend, The Snooze Button, contains the perfect blend of melatonin, valerian, ashwagandha, and passionflower. It may not make all your dreams come true, but it will help you fall asleep so you can have them.
Fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, require a small amount of healthy fat for proper absorption, so it is highly recommended that you take them with a meal or snack that contains healthy fat. Foods like whole dairy, nuts, seeds, eggs, avocados, and oils like coconut or olive are all ideal fats to support your body’s absorption. Each body absorbs and stores these vitamins differently, so it is important to ask your physician for recommendations on supplements you may need and how to take them.
Water-soluble vitamins, B and C, should be taken on an empty stomach. Since they dissolve into water, it is best to take them with a glass of water to help break them down for maximum absorption. If you find that vitamin C upsets your stomach, you can always take it with some food, though B (especially folate) is almost always optimally absorbed on an empty stomach. Magnesium is best taken with food, as doing so on an empty stomach may result in digestive discomfort.
The time you take your multivitamin doesn’t have any impact on how well your body absorbs its properties. What matters most is whether you take it with food or not. There are as many opinions on this as there are vitamins, and they are all valid points. Most people take their multivitamin with food, but if you are concerned about the absorption of your B and C vitamins, talk to your healthcare provider about the best options, as each body responds differently.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it really matters more how you take it than when. For maximum absorption (which is the goal), take your D supplement immediately after eating foods that contain fat. It doesn’t have to be at meal time – a small serving of yogurt, avocado, nuts, or something cooked in olive or coconut oil at any time would be sufficient.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be replenished daily. It does not require food for absorption and is best when taken with a glass of water any time day or night. Any vitamin C that your body doesn’t use will be excreted in your urine, so once you’ve reached the RDA of 1,000mg, more is not necessarily better. While vitamin C is plentiful in many foods, it is available in capsule, powder, and liquid forms. Care/of’s Vitamin C, The Citrus Savior, made from acerola cherries and bioflavonoids, is an easily digestible, highly absorbed formula that helps maintain a healthy immune system.
B-Complex is water-soluble so it can be taken at any time with or without food. Since it plays an important role in nutrient metabolism and energy production, many physicians recommend taking B Complex in the morning. Care/of’s Vitamin B- Complex, The Busy B’s, supports the nervous system, promotes energy metabolism, and is perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and it could be taken any time day or night, with or without food. However, studies have demonstrated that maximum absorption is achieved when it is taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water. Being water-soluble, it is important to be consistent with taking B12 as excess is not stored in the body, but expelled through urine.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be taken any time with a healthy fat-containing meal or snack. While it is essential for healthy blood flow and immune function, it can be found in many foods and deficiency is rare. High doses of vitamin E stored in the body may be unhealthy in some populations. As always, consult with your physician or healthcare provider about your supplement use.
The best time to take your vitamins depends largely on the type of vitamin you’re taking. Absorption is the key goal, so it is important to know the difference between water-soluble and fat-soluble, and whether or not you’re taking them with food or with a glass of water on an empty stomach. Each body responds differently and each person’s needs are unique. Your physician can help you decide what is best for you.