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Taking Vitamins With Food Vs. Without Food

Taking Vitamins With Food Vs. Without Food
Small bottles filled with different types of vitamins. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Although it may not seem like a big deal, how you take your vitamins could make a difference in how well they are absorbed and how you feel after you take them. Learning which vitamins you should take with food and which you can take apart from meals can help you get the most benefits from your vitamin supplements. Check with your doctor before taking vitamin supplements to make sure they are safe for you, as they can interact with certain medications.

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Fat-Soluble Vitamins

The vitamins that are most important to take with food are the fat-soluble vitamins -- A, D, E and K. These vitamins can only be absorbed in the presence of fat and are then stored in your fat cells until they are needed. It doesn't need to be much fat, as long as a small amount is present in the meal.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins don't need fat for absorption, just water, so you don't need to take them with meals. You can if you want to, but it isn't necessary. Keep in mind that any extra water-soluble vitamins you take above and beyond your body's daily needs will just be excreted in your urine because these vitamins aren't stored in the body. Routinely taking your supplements every morning at breakfast can make it easier to remember to take them each day.

Maximizing Multivitamins

Because multivitamins contain a mix of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, you'll be able to get more benefits from them if you take them with a meal, notes registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot in an April 2014 article published on You may want to avoid taking your multivitamin with dairy products, however, because these supplements often contain minerals that aren't well absorbed in the presence of calcium.

Minimizing Side Effects

If your vitamins upset your stomach, it may help to take them with food. Don't take individual vitamin supplements in doses higher than the tolerable upper intake level, as this can cause toxicity symptoms. Although the fat-soluble vitamins are most likely to cause toxicity symptoms in high amounts, some of the water-soluble vitamins, including niacin, can also cause adverse effects when taken in large doses.

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