All vitamins and minerals are not created equal. Nor are all vitamins and minerals meant to be consumed at the same time. Some actually work against each other, so when you're taking individual vitamins and minerals, do a little research first. There is a best way to take your vitamin supplements. Consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your daily routine.
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If you're short on time, there's nothing wrong with taking a multivitamin.
Read the Labels
Read the labels on supplements to see how much of the daily value (DV) is provided. The labels that read 100 percent DV will provide just that, 100 percent of the recommended daily value. Men and postmenopausal women should look for supplements that provide half the daily value of iron. Also, you aren't likely to find 100 percent DV for calcium and magnesium. These amounts would require very large pills.
Look at a multivitamin as a way to supplement, not replace, a healthy diet. If you have the time, however, taking individual supplements will provide you with better overall vitamin and mineral health. There isn't necessarily a best time of day to take a multivitamin. It's simply important to be sure to take one if you need it.
Read more: Potential Benefits of Multivitamins
Combine With Care
If you're not taking a multivitamin, but are taking separate supplements instead, it's good to remember that some vitamins and minerals are better taken together. Vitamin D, vitamin K and calcium work well together. Vitamin D and vitamin K help your body and help your bones better absorb calcium. Magnesium may help activate vitamin D by converting it into a form your body can use.
Because vitamin D3 is fat soluble (meaning that it's stored in your fat), it's also better absorbed by your body when you take it with fat. That's why vitamin D3 tablets often contain oil. It's even better to consume vitamin D3 with fatty foods.
Vitamin A contributes to the health of your skin, your eyesight and your mucous membranes. It also helps with cell development. Vitamin A works well with vitamin D3 to keep these systems going, so taking them together is a good idea. High intakes of pre-formed vitamin A supplements can lead to toxicity, known as hypervitaminosis A, so if you're supplementing with vitamin A, look for supplements that use carotenoids, such as beta carotene, as the source.
Iron is best taken with vitamin C, because vitamin C helps the body release more iron. Even in your diet, it's good to eat something containing vitamin C when you consume foods that are high in iron. It can be something as simple as lemon juice on dark leafy greens.
You may also want to take vitamin C more than once, because it's water soluble. That means excess vitamin C is excreted through urine, not stored in the body.
Some supplements shouldn't be taken together. Zinc and copper, for example, work against each other. You also won't get the full benefits of both if you take zinc and magnesium <ahref="https: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov="" pubmed="" 23853635"=""> </ahref="https:>together, so take zinc in the morning and magnesium at night. Iron and zinc don't work together if they're not taken in a balanced ratio. Multivitamins, however, keep that ratio balanced.
A good rule of thumb is to take iron in the morning and calcium in the evening. Calcium may have a calming effect, so evening is a good time for this.
Morning or Evening?
Some vitamins and supplements — like B vitamins — assist in the production of energy, so don't take these as you're getting ready for bed. Take them, instead, in the morning.
Whereas B vitamins can help get you going in the morning, magnesium can make you feel sleepy, so evening is the best time to take this mineral. And, although taking magnesium and B vitamins at the same time may not result in a canceling out of benefits, the effects they can have on your energy level justify taking B in the morning and magnesium at night.
What to Down Them With
When it comes to what to swallow with your vitamins and minerals, that varies. Vitamins D and K are good candidates to take with milk. These fat-soluble vitamins benefit from milk's calcium. Magnesium can be taken with water or in liquid form, which helps with its distribution in the body. Iron can be taken with orange juice.
Vitamin C can be taken with water. Most water-soluble vitamins won't bother your stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are more likely to cause upset stomach if taken with water, especially if no food is eaten at the same time.
- Vitamin D Council: Vitamin D and Other Vitamins and Minerals
- University of Maryland: Supplementing Your Dietary Supplement IQ
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Fat Increases Vitamin D-3 Absorption
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- New Orleans Times Picayune: Five Common Vitamins, Dietary Supplements and When to Take Them
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Psychology Today: What You Need to Know About Magnesium and Your Sleep