The primary safety concern with cutting a vitamin comes from the challenge of using a knife to chop an unwieldy pill. You can cut vitamins to make them easier to swallow, as long as the directions or your doctor don't specifically say to take them whole. Only cut them in half and remember to never cut two types of vitamins: timed release and enteric coated.
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Vitamins to Cut
Manufacturers of many major vitamin brands say that you can safely cut their products in half. Dr. Michael Roizen at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that taking half a multivitamin twice daily is good for most people, which means cutting it in half.
Softgel capsules with liquid vitamins in the center can be cut in half to release the fluid. Just be sure to have a spoon or cup ready to catch all the fluid so that you don’t lose any of the nutrients. You can also cut dissolvable vitamins, as long as you hold all the pieces in your mouth long enough for them to fully disintegrate.
Vitamins to Take Whole
Timed-release and enteric-coated vitamins should never be cut. If you cut a timed-release vitamin instead of swallowing the whole tablet, you’ll no longer benefit from the gradual release of nutrients. You’ll also lose the benefit of enteric coating if you cut those vitamins.
Enteric coating allows the vitamin to pass through your stomach without your stomach acid dissolving them. The coating prevents stomach upset, but it also protects vulnerable nutrients and delivers them safely to the small intestine, where they’re absorbed into the bloodstream.
Optional Forms of Vitamins
If you have a hard time swallowing vitamin tablets, you have a few options in addition to cutting them in half. One quick solution might be switching to caplets or capsules, because they’re easier to swallow.
Even though it won’t taste great, you can safely chew vitamin tablets or crush the tablet and mix it with food. Alternatively, many chewable adult vitamins are on the market, or you can go with vitamin powders and liquid vitamins.
If you buy chewable vitamins, be sure to check the label for sugar content. Some chewables, such as gummies, have 3 grams of sugar per dose, the equivalent of 3/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
Tips for Cutting Vitamins
Many larger vitamin tablets are scored with an indented line that marks the center of the tablet and makes it easier to cut in half. The safest and most accurate way to cut tablets, especially if they’re curved and hard to hold down, is a pill splitter. Otherwise, use a sharp knife and one quick, smooth motion to try and cut the tablet into equal halves.
If you take vitamins to treat a medical condition, getting a precise amount of nutrients in each dose may be important, so talk to your doctor before cutting, crushing or chewing a tablet. When tablets are cut, they end up in different-sized pieces with varying amounts of nutrients. You’ll also lose some of the nutrients as part of the tablet gets pulverized during cutting.