In response to the last blog post about supplements, a friend asked me this question, “What is the optimal time to take supplements?”

And, I realized that I had developed a personal routine for taking my supplements based on what my functional medicine specialist doctor had suggested and directions from the various supplement manufacturers. However, I had not really done my own digging to find the definitive answer to this question of when is the best time for different supplements.

And, since I am taking my supplements every single day, it was high time I did so.

So, here is what I found. There are several considerations in deciding the optimal time to take your supplement:

  1. With food or on empty stomach: In general, most of the multivitamins manufacturers recommend taking those with food. There are three main reasons cited for this. Taking multivitamins with food slows the absorption rate and makes the micronutrients available over longer period of time. Micronutrients are supposed to work in conjunction with macronutrients (carbs, fat ad proteins). And, finally, taking them with food makes vitamins that are fat soluble (A, D, E and K) be better absorbed, assuming the meal will have some fat content.

Exceptions to this rule are certain multivitamins or supplements that are enteric coated, so they do not dissolve in the stomach. It is recommended that these enteric coated multivitamins or supplements are taken on empty stomach. The multivitamins ones I take manufactured by Xtend-life happen to be indeed enteric coated.

  1. If the daily dosage is lots of pills – spread them out over multiple doses. For example, the Xtend-life multivitamin that I take comprises 7 pill is a good candidate of splitting into two doses. I take 4 in the afternoon and three at night.
  2. Supplements that relax the body are best taken at bed times – For example, Magnesium relaxes the muscle and help with sleep, so it is best taken at bed time. Same goes for Serotonin, which promotes sleep.
  3. Omega 3 with meals: Omega-3 supplements can be part of the fat in-take with meals and also snacks, of course, depending upon how many pills of Omega-3 you are taking. With 4 pills of Omega 3/QH and 2 pills of Flaxseed oil, I usually have at least one pill to take with every meal or snack.
  4. Probiotics are best taken in the morning – In general probiotics can be taken at any time, but the best times seem to be when the pH of the stomach is least acidic. Less acidity allows more of the bacteria to survive on their way to the intestines where they are needed. In general, in the mornings, stomach tends to be least acidic.
  5. Take them at the same time every day – Taking these at the same time every day, just like daily meals, the nutrients become available throughout the daily 24 hour daily cycle.
  6. If taking any medications, check with your doctor for any possible drug supplement interactions – This can be very important, for example, if you are taking a blood thinner, such as Coumadin, taking vitamin K might be counterproductive or may have to be accounted for to figure out proper dosage.
  7. If you miss an optimal supplement time, it is better to take the supplement at a different time the same day than to skip it – You will get at least some benefit, and there is a much better chance that the next day you will be back on schedule. Skipping always makes the skipping the following day more likely.

Based on these considerations, the following looks like an optimal schedule for my supplement regime:

Approximate Time of Day Type of Meal or Empty Stomach Supplements
8:30am Breakfast or Breakfast Shake Omega 3/QH, D3, Glucosamin/Chondoitin, Calcium Citrate, Red Rice Yeast, Super MiraForte, Probiotics,   B-Complex, L-Methylfolate
12:00pm Lunch Omega 3/QH
2pm No Meal 4 pills multivitamins, 2 pills Male Rejuvinator
3pm Snack (Almonds) Flaxseed Oil
5:30pm Shake Omega 3/QH
8pm Dinner Omega 3/QH, D3, Glucosamin/Chondoitin, Calcium Citrate, Red Rice Yeast, Super MiraForte,Vitamin B-12, Chelated Molybdenum, Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, NAC, Milk Thistle
10:30pm Bed Time

(No meal)

4 pills multivitamins, 2 pill Male Rejuvinator, Magnesium, Flaxseed Oil

What do you think? Do you have any information different from this?

When do you take your supplements?

I would love to hear.