Although most people might not need to take vitamins because they can get the nutrients from the food they eat, others opt to take vitamins daily so their bodies absorb all essential nutrients. Women who are pregnant typically take prenatal vitamins on the recommendation of their doctors. People often wonder whether there is a “best time” to take vitamins. MedlinePlus notes that in most cases, you should take vitamins once per day.
Side Effects and Missed Doses
Occasionally, multivitamins may cause an upset stomach or nausea, or they may leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth. It may help to take your vitamins with a meal rather than on an empty stomach or take them at a different time of day. Although the upset stomach could just be a side effect, some vitamins in high amounts can cause nausea. Consult your physician if you experience nausea frequently or if the nausea doesn’t go away.
Minerals in Multivitamins
Multivitamins might include minerals such as iron, or you might also take iron in prescription form or as a separate supplement. But calcium, which is also in some multivitamins, can interfere with iron absorption, according to an October 2010 article in the “International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.” Women and children, who are at greater risk for iron deficiency than men, are also encouraged to eat or drink dairy products because they contain calcium. Because the calcium can inhibit iron absorption, doctors often caution people not to take multivitamins that contain iron with dairy products or calcium supplements.
Medications can interact with multivitamins when they are taken at the same time, according to Dr. Leo Galland in an April 2010 article in the “Huffington Post.” Galland notes that statin drugs -- which lower cholesterol -- can block the effects of vitamin E, while vitamin E interferes with the effects of the statin. Statins and vitamin E should not be taken together. Some medications and vitamins can interact no matter what time you take them. The blood thinner warfarin, for example, can interact with multivitamins that contain vitamin K and increase your risk of bleeding.
Flexibility with Regularity
Some vitamin manufacturers recommend you always take vitamins with a meal and at the same time each day. You might find it easiest to incorporate vitamins into a morning routine, while others prefer to take them at bedtime. The exact time is less important than taking them regularly. As long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations and consider potential problems such as medication interactions, you can take your multivitamins at whatever time of day works best for you.
- MedlinePlus: Multivitamins
- MedlinePlus: Vitamins
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research: Calcium and Iron Absorption -- Mechanisms and Public Health Relevance
- Huffington Post: Mixing Medications and Vitamins: When It Hurts, When It Helps
- One a Day: One a Day Frequently Asked Questions