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What is the Best Time to Take Nutritional Supplements

Updated on May 7, 2011

Most of us regularly take multivitamins or other nutritional supplements but very few of us are aware of the proper way to take them. Nutritionists believe that people who take regular and balanced meal, three times a day, hardly need any nutritional supplement. The best thing about diet is that it contains multiple of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrate, fats and other micro-nutrients, while nutritional supplements contain specific nutrients. Still our diet is not balanced and we often do not know the RDA for each nutrient and therefore we have to take dietary supplements along with food.

Nature has combined nutrients in each food item in such a way that the absorption of one nutrient does not interfere with the absorption of other. In commercial multivitamins and other supplements too combination are made in such a way that all nutrients can be best absorbed but if you are taking many pills a day you need to know when to take which supplement. Magnesium, zinc and copper compete as far as their absorption is concerned, other nutrients like iron may need vitamin C to better absorb in the blood stream. Knowing about the best time for each supplement is necessary to get the best from it.

Multivitamins Vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K are commonly taken dietary supplements. Multivitamins are available in the form of capsules, pills, chewable pills, and powdered form which can be stirred in water to drink. In some supplements different multivitamins are combined in one pill while there are also multipill packs that are designed to cope with the daily requirement of each vitamin.

Best Time to Take Multivitamins Multivitamins should be taken with meals. Its better if they are taken with breakfast as it will give them much time to absorb. Multivitamins can also be taken on full stomach.

Mineral Supplements Calcium and iron are the two most commonly taken dietary supplements other possible mineral supplements can be zinc, iodine, magnesium and copper. Phosphorus may not be needed in the form of supplement as its daily requirement can be easily fulfilled by diet.

Best Time to Take Mineral Supplements Different mineral supplements should be taken at different time. Calcium absorption is best when it is taken after meal, while iron absorption is best when it is taken on empty stomach. Iron absorption is at its peak when its stores are low in the body. Protein and vitamin C are thought to increase iron absorption in body. Vitamin D and C are said to improve calcium absorption and therefore can be taken in the form of supplements along with calcium. Do not take mineral supplements between the meal as it can cause stomach upset and may not get absorbed in the best manner. It has also been proved by various researches that calcium intake inhibit iron absorption so better not take both supplements together.

Antioxidants Antioxidants are non-essential micro-nutrients. Recent studies have stressed on the importance of antioxidants in reducing heart risks and cancer of many types. Studies are still in process to investigate the proper mechanism in which antioxidants regulate health and fitness.

Best Time to Take Antioxidant Supplements Antioxidant supplements should be taken according to your physicians advice. Generally many antioxidants interfere with the absorption of iron and therefore do not take both supplements together.  


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    • Adamowen profile image


      6 years ago from England

      There isn't a special time to take supplements... You should measure micro nutrient intake over a 24hour period meaning as long as you hit your numbers each day you are fine. I'll be doing some hubs soon with evidence of all the research to back up these claims.

    • gulnazahmad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks perspycacious for your comment. Women's physiology changes a lot after menopause and they surely take physicians advice before taking iron supplements.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      When women complete menopause they should no longer take iron supplements without their doctor's knowledge and approval. Iron tends to make the bad fats stickier, increasing the risks of stroke, heart attack, vein problems, etc. This is evidenced by women's rates for those conditions rapidly reaching men's levels following menopause when they begin storing iron in their systems. Men should, when possible, donate blood regularly to mimic the advantages menstruating women have from their lower rates of these troublesome conditions. Contact me directly with questions you may have.


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