Timing my Vitamins and Supplements

You may have heard that our body has an “internal clock” that dictates patterns across our digestion timing, hormones, and sleep/wake cycles. You may have experienced this when you wake up at a consistent time without an alarm or find yourself suddenly hungry after a busy morning. These examples are evidence of our body’s internal clock, also called its circadian rhythm!

Circadian rhythms refer to the natural cycles our bodies lean toward in coordination with daylight and lifestyle habits. Most commonly, this applies to nutrition and sleep management. Across all lifestyle factors, one key is to treat our bodies with consistency.  

So, “Does it matter what time I take my vitamin?” The answer is yes, it does! While in most cases, taking your supplement at varying times will not harm you, it does help your body know what to expect and process the nutrient(s) more efficiently when the timing is consistent. 

A recent article published by Metagenics provides clarity on which supplements are important to time correctly. 

“Although there’s still much to learn about optimal timing for both food and supplements, current evidence suggests it may play a role.3 Here are a few general guidelines for five common supplements to help you add the extra layer of timing and optimize your plan:”

B complex

“B vitamins are often recommended to support healthy energy and mood.4 There is some evidence that taking B vitamins before bed can have a negative effect on sleep quality.5 Consider taking any B vitamins, including a B complex, earlier in the day with food.”

Fish oil

“The most common complaints I hear about fish oil are burping or nausea. Taking fish oil supplements with food, divided into two doses, may help reduce these harmless yet annoying side effects.”

Magnesium

“Magnesium is an essential micronutrient that plays a role in hundreds of reactions in the body.6

Due to the overall benefits of magnesium supplementation, consistency is more important than any timing in this case. Known for muscle relaxation and improved sleep, taking magnesium before bed may enhance those benefits in some people.7 Others may notice digestive issues and may choose to take with food.”

Probiotics

“Any recommendation related to probiotic supplementation should be based on the specific strain; however, much of this detailed evidence does not yet exist. Meal timing has more or less of an impact on probiotics depending on the strain, the dose, delivery method, etc.8 The consensus, however, is to take probiotics 30 minutes before or during a meal versus after eating.9 Another guideline is to space probiotics away from antibiotic medications by two hours to reduce interaction.”

Vitamin D

“Along with vitamins A, E, and K, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is better absorbed when taken with a fat-containing meal (ex. fatty fish, avocado, olive oil, cheese, eggs).10 Although we do not have substantial evidence to support specific timing, it may make sense to take vitamin D supplements in the morning with breakfast to mimic the timing of exposure to natural sunlight.”

Summary

“As we continue to learn about specific supplements and optimal timing, consider that the best timing is the one you can stick with. You cannot benefit from a supplement you do not take. The most important thing is to take your supplements at a time that is convenient for you so you can be consistent.”

Sources:

Blake, M. (2021, July). Chrononutrition: Is There a “Best Time” to Take Nutritional Supplements? [web log]. https://blog.metagenics.com/post/2021/07/31/chrononutrition-is-there-a-best-time-to-take-nutritional-supplements/.

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