Should You Take Vitamins On A Full Or Empty Stomach?
Originally published 07/14/2021. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 09/22/2023.
Knowing when you should take your supplements can help you make sure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. In this article, we discuss which vitamins to take on a full or empty stomach.
Getting all of the necessary nutrients you need during pregnancy is key for supporting a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. What many don’t know, however, is that whether you take your supplement on an empty stomach or not is also important.
The body breaks down and absorbs different vitamins and minerals in different ways. While some vitamins and minerals are best absorbed with food, others require an empty stomach. Knowing when you should take your supplements can help you make sure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines; you should always consult a healthcare provider before taking any new vitamins, and always read the label and follow instructions.
What Vitamins Should Not Be Taken On An Empty Stomach?
Fat-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, are generally best taken with a meal that contains at least a teaspoon of fat. [1,2] This is because these vitamins need a little extra boost to be absorbed. When you’re eating, the amount of stomach acid in your system increases, helping to break down the vitamins. The difference is drastic; a study found that 32% more Vitamin D3 is absorbed by the body when it is taken with a meal.  Other examples of minerals that are absorbed better when taken with food include CoQ10, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. [4-5]
It is also important to note that taking any kind of supplement (not just fat-soluble ones) on an empty stomach causes some people gastrointestinal distress, including nausea or vomiting.  So if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, try eating your supplements with a meal to reduce the stress on your stomach. You might also consider taking supplements in gummy form (like our prenatal gummies).
Vitamins To Take On An Empty Stomach
Water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C and B vitamins, including folate, can often be taken on an empty stomach.  This is because your body takes what it needs from water-soluble vitamins and excretes the rest through urine, meaning that it does not require food for absorption.  You can take these sorts of vitamins as soon as you wake up, before a meal, or two hours after a meal. Since these vitamins require water to be broken down, taking them with water is important so that your body can use them to their full capacity.  Iron, another important supplement, is also best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, about 30 minutes before a meal, or 2 hours before taking other medications.  Some suggest taking iron with orange or apple juice to help with absorption. 
If taking any of your supplements on an empty stomach causes you any sort of discomfort, try eating a very light snack (e.g. crackers or a smoothie) beforehand.
How To Take Prenatal Vitamins
Since prenatal vitamins contain many different kinds of vitamins and minerals, it can be hard to figure out whether to take them on a full or empty stomach. We suggest taking your prenatal vitamins with a meal and a full glass of water to prevent the nausea that can be caused by taking pills on an empty stomach. If you’re regularly experiencing nausea after taking your vitamins, you can experiment to see whether taking your vitamins at a different time of the day, with a smaller or larger meal, or in gummy form, is helpful! We also offer Anti-Nausea Gummies and Nausea Relief Tea to help curb morning sickness symptoms.
How To Take Natalist Supplements
- Vitamin D3: take with a meal.
- Iron: take at least 30 minutes before a meal with a glass of water or orange juice, which can boost absorption!
- CoQ10: take with a meal.
- Prenatal Daily Packets: take with a meal (and lots of water!)
- Male Penatals: take with a meal.
- Fiber: take with a glass of water (or add to your smoothie!)
- MTHF: take with a glass of water.
- Omega DHA: take with a meal
- Inositol: take with a glass of water.
- Postnatal: take with a meal (and lots of water!)
- When To Take CoQ10 Supplements: Morning or Night?
- Fiber-Full Blender Bomb Smoothie Recipes
- Can You Take Prenatal Vitamins and Multivitamins Together?
- The Best Time to Take Vitamins. Cleveland Clinic. April 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-time-to-take-vitamins
- National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 11, Fat-Soluble Vitamins. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218749/
- Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Lichtenstein AH, Dolnikowski G, Palermo NJ, Rasmussen H. Dietary fat increases vitamin D-3 absorption. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(2):225-230. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.09.014
- Calcium Fact Sheet for Consumers. National INstitutes of Health. October 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer.pdf
- Saini R. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.84471
- Get Nauseous After Taking Vitamins? 6 Tips to Make Them Easier to Stomach. Cleveland Clinic. May 2019. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/get-nauseous-after-taking-vitamins-6-tips-to-make-them-easier-to-stomach/
- National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 12, Water-Soluble Vitamins. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218756/
- Nguyen M, Tadi P. Iron Supplementation. [Updated 2023 Jul 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557376/