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Best time to take multivitamins: what you need to know

Medically reviewed on May 13, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


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In an ideal world, we would get everything our bodies need from eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet. However, even the healthiest diets may come up short every now and then. Fortunately, multivitamins can help fill some of these nutritional gaps.

If your healthcare provider has recommended that you take a dietary supplement to bridge nutrient gaps in your diet, you might wonder: when is the best time to take multivitamins?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the answer to that question and share other helpful information on vitamins. (Note that you can now shop Everlywell Vitamins and Supplements here.)

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When is the best time to take multivitamins?

Because multivitamins contain a mixture of both fat and water-soluble vitamins, in general it’s best to take them with a meal for optimal absorption [1].

There are mixed messages about the best time to take a multivitamin—in the morning or at night. Some suggest it’s beneficial to take a multivitamin containing B12 in the morning on an empty stomach to aid in absorption [2].

However, multivitamins that contain fat-soluble vitamins are likely more effective when taken with a meal, whether in the morning or at night, since your body needs fat to absorb them.

If you’re unsure about when to take a multivitamin, speak with a healthcare professional about the best timing for you.

Should you take a multivitamin?

Why take a multivitamin? It’s worth noting that not everyone needs a multivitamin. In fact, some people may be better off obtaining the vitamins and minerals their body needs from whole foods rather than from a multivitamin.

However, some people might experience health benefits from taking vitamin supplements. These can include:

  • Elderly individuals – As we age, our bodies become less adept at absorbing vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium [3]. This can lead to poor bone health and susceptibility to fractures. A multivitamin might help stave off some of these problems.
  • Vegetarians or vegans – A vegetarian or vegan diet can be beneficial, but it can also leave the body a little low on vitamins B12 and D, along with crucial minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc [4]. Taking a multivitamin may help to avoid these shortages.
  • Those who’ve had bariatric surgery – Bariatric surgery can be helpful for those suffering from obesity. However, many who have had bariatric surgery may find that their bodies don’t absorb nutrients from food as effectively anymore [5]. Taking a multivitamin may help improve the levels of crucial vitamins in the body.
  • People on restrictive diets – Some people who are on low-calorie, restrictive diets may miss out on essential vitamins [6]. When recommended by a healthcare provider, a multivitamin supplement might help dieters meet all of their vitamin requirements.

What should a multivitamin contain?

There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs. These are divided into two categories—fat-soluble and water-soluble [1].

Fat-soluble vitamins require fat for your body to absorb them. These vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins do not require fat for your body to absorb them. And, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, the body doesn’t store excess water-soluble vitamins, so you must consume foods containing water-soluble vitamins daily.

Water-soluble vitamins include:

  • Biotin
  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Folic acid
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Ascorbic acid

Most multivitamins contain some combination of these essential vitamins, along with other ingredients.

Taking a daily vitamin can be an excellent way to ensure optimal health and wellness. Consider trying a monthly Everlywell subscription for the nutrient(s) of your choice, including:

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References

1. Zhang Y, Zhou WE, Yan JQ, et al. A Review of the Extraction and Determination Methods of Thirteen Essential Vitamins to the Human Body: An Update from 2010. Molecules. 2018;23(6):1484.

2. Oral Vitamin B12 Preparations. National Health Service. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

3. Tang BM, Eslick GD, Nowson C, Smith C, Bensoussan A. Use of calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation to prevent fractures and bone loss in people aged 50 years and older: a meta-analysis. Lancet. 2007 Aug 25;370(9588):657-66.

4. Craig WJ. Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6):613-20.

5. Lupoli R, Lembo E, Saldalamacchia G, Avola CK, Angrisani L, Capaldo B. Bariatric surgery and long-term nutritional issues. World J Diabetes. 2017;8(11):464-474.

6. Damms-Machado A, Weser G, Bischoff SC. Micronutrient deficiency in obese subjects undergoing low calorie diet. Nutr J. 2012;11:34.

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