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Tips on How to Take Your Vitamins - Part I
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

Are you juggling a handful of vitamins every day but unsure of the best time and way to take them? This is a common question NEEDS wellness educators are asked and we wanted to offer some general guidelines that may be helpful. This month, we are covering vitamins and next month, we will cover minerals.

If you have a sensitive stomach, it is best to take your multivitamins with food to prevent GI upset and to enhance absorption while in the presence of co-factors from food and enzymes. This is especially true for the fat-soluble vitamins because they are more difficult to absorb. You may want to take your multivitamin in the morning and early afternoon because some nutrients in the formula, such as the B vitamins (depending on dosage) can increase energy and cause insomnia if taken too late in the day. This tip also applies to B-complex formulas and most individual B vitamins.

Vitamins A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K are fat-soluble vitamins, and will best be absorbed with foods containing fat, or with the addition of the digestive enzyme lipase for those who don't make enough naturally. These nutrients are stored in fat cells, therefore only need to be taken once rather than multiple times throughout the day. If you are taking high doses of vitamin D (over 1,000 IU daily), be sure you are getting enough magnesium, as it aids in vitamin D metabolism.

Vitamin C is water-soluble, so you can safely take high doses, possibly risking a laxative side-effect. You can take it any time, but if you have a sensitive stomach, it's best to take with food to avoid GI upset.

Amino acids tend to work best on an empty stomach, so take those 1-2 hours away from meals. Take multiple times through the day to maintain high levels, such as the case for arginine when it's being used to lower blood pressure.

As for probiotics, there isn't a clear answer. Some people like to take them at night, but there isn't clear evidence that this is superior to daytime, or that it is better with or without food. So my advice is to incorporate into your regime in whatever way is most convenient, until studies prove otherwise.

Part II in the April newsletter!

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