As long as you don't gulp them down with a cup of coffee, it's OK to take vitamins before bed. When you take your vitamins is a matter of personal preference and your individual reaction. However, you should be careful of other ingredients in your supplement that could leave you tossing and turning.
Taking vitamins before bed won't influence their effectiveness. Certain individuals may find that vitamins keep them up due to digestive problems or the effects of other ingredients in multivitamin supplements.
Taking Vitamins at Night
Vitamin supplements have the potential to work only if you take them. Even if it were better to take them in the morning, if you're rushing around to get ready for work, walk the dog and scarf down breakfast, you might forget all about your vitamins.
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If you have a diagnosed vitamin deficiency and your doctor has recommended a vitamin supplement, it's crucial to take it every day or as often as advised. For some people, life is less hectic before bed, and it's easier to remember to take your dose.
But will they still work as well if you take them just before hopping in the sack? Most likely. There isn't any available scientific research showing that taking your vitamins in the morning, at noon or before bed makes any difference in how they are absorbed or used by the body. However, utilization and absorption are affected by other factors, such as meals and other supplements and medications you might take.
Read more: How to Properly Take Vitamins
Be Careful With B?
In addition to not working properly, you may worry that taking vitamins before bed will keep you up at night. That depends on the dosage, which vitamins you take and your own personal sensitivity to the nutrients. Although there's no evidence to support it, anecdotally, some users report experiencing an energy boost after taking B vitamins.
The eight B vitamins are known for their role in promoting energy because, collectively, they are involved in the metabolism of food. Individual B vitamins, such as B12, play major roles in healthy red blood cell production and the transport of oxygen to the body's tissues, which is crucial for maintaining energy levels.
A primary symptom of B12 deficiency is fatigue, and taking a vitamin supplement to repair the deficiency will increase energy levels. This is why people think taking B vitamins can boost their energy levels — and they're often misleadingly marketed as such. However, in the absence of a deficiency, a B12 supplement, or any other B vitamin, is unlikely to give you energy.
Factors Affecting Absorption
Although it's not likely to matter if you take your vitamins at night or in the morning, it does matter how you take them. Some vitamins can cause digestive problems when taken on an empty stomach, and others are better absorbed when taken with meals.
Generally, the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, K and D are better absorbed when taken with a meal or snack containing a little fat. So, if you eat dinner at 7 p.m. but don't go to bed until 10 p.m., that's not going to work. If you are going to take them before bed, have a small snack with fat, such as cottage cheese or nut butter before sleeping.
It's sometimes recommended to take vitamin C with food because it can upset some people's stomachs, although there are formulations of the vitamin that are easier on the stomach.
Sleep and Your Stomach
Any vitamins have the potential to upset your stomach, which can keep you up at night. Some people have a particular sensitivity to one nutrient or another that can cause a rumbling tummy, stomach ache, nausea or diarrhea. In addition, if you have acid reflux problems, some vitamins can make things worse. Acid reflux is sometimes more pronounced at night, so the combination could cause you to lose shut-eye.
Another factor that can make taking vitamins before bed a bad idea is the other ingredients in your supplement. Many multivitamins or nighttime recovery supplements that include vitamins contain ingredients that could upset your stomach. Whey protein, for example, can upset your stomach if you're lactose-intolerant; sugar alcohols can also cause digestive problems.
If your supplement contains sugar, that could interrupt your sleep. Sugar can raise your blood sugar level, which can make you feel temporarily energetic. That isn't helpful if your goal is to fall asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, eating sugar at any time of day can cause you to wake up more often in the middle of the night.
Other ingredients in your supplement may contain caffeine. According to the USDA, ingredients to look out for include cocoa, guarana, tea, yerba mate and kola nut. Make sure to scan your vitamin supplement and verify that there are no ingredients that are known for being energizing or that you think may upset your stomach.
Read more: The 14 Best Foods for Your Heart
Do You Even Need Them?
All of these issues can be made worse if you are taking megadoses of certain vitamins. Taking conservative amounts close to the recommended dietary intakes shouldn't cause a problem. But many supplements contain way more than the RDI. Taking megadoses of certain vitamins can be dangerous and isn't likely to offer any benefits unless you have a deficiency or your doctor has recommended them for another health condition.
The truth is that most vitamin supplements — at any dose — aren't likely to do much for your health. People often take vitamins as "nutritional insurance," hoping to cover their bases if they eat a less-than-healthy diet. Even people who eat a healthy diet take vitamin supplements in hopes that extra nutrients will prevent disease.
There's no evidence that taking multivitamins before bed — or any other time of day — prevents disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. What is proven to prevent disease is a healthy diet comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality lean, unprocessed meats, fish, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.
So, if you are worried about taking vitamins at night, either because you're concerned they won't work as well or that they'll keep you up, there's a solution: Focus on improving your diet and you likely won't need to take the supplements at all.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "What Are B-Vitamins ?"
- NIH: "Vitamin B-12"
- Mayo Clinic: "Are Vitamin B-12 Injections Helpful for Weight Loss?"
- Consumerlab.com: "Supplements That Should Be Taken With Food"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Get Nauseous After Taking Vitamins? 6 Tips to Make Them Easier to Stomach"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)"
- International Journal of Dentistry: "Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated With the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols With Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals"
- National Sleep Foundation: "Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Sleep"
- USDA: "Caffeine-Containing Ingredients in Dietary Supplements: Guarana, Kola Nut, Yerba Mate, Tea, and Cocoa"
- Consumer Reports: "10 Surprising Dangers of Vitamins and Supplements"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?"