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The timing of when you take your supplements can significantly affect the way in which your body can absorb and utilize the nutrients. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and omega-3s are better absorbed when taken with a meal that contains fat. Probiotics are best taken on an empty stomach so that there's nothing to interfere with the good bacteria from getting to work. Vitamin B12 is also better absorbed on an empty stomach because an acidic environment increases absorption.
See also 5 Supplements to Start Taking Now.
B-complex vitamins should be taken early in the day, preferably with your first meal, as they help the body produce energy from food and taking them later in the day can interfere with your sleep. Iron and calcium should never be taken together as they compete for receptor sites; take iron during the day with some vitamin C to increase absorption. If you drink coffee or tea, the tannins and caffeine can interfere with absorption of many vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Caffeine also increases urination, which can decrease concentration of water-soluble vitamins (B-complex and C), so wait an hour after your morning brew to take supplements. Caffeine-free herbal tea, which contains fewer tannins than regular tea, may actually increase absorption of certain minerals such as iron.
See also5 Energy-Enhancing Supplements.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This advice reflects the recommendations of our dietitians, but CE recommends also speaking with your health-care provider before beginning any supplement regimen. Supplement timing can vary depending on your health goals and certain health conditions.
Registered dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald are the co-founders and creators of URockGirl.com, a website dedicated to promoting wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.