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.
By Vishu Chandrasekhar
Taking dietary supplements during pregnancy is key to ensuring that you and your baby are fully nourished. It’s beneficial to take your supplements at the same time every day, in order to develop a healthy habit and make sure your body is provided with necessary nutrients on a daily basis. What many don’t know, however, is that whether you take your supplement on an empty stomach or not is also important. What’s the best way to take vitamins, on a full or empty stomach? Let’s dive in.
What is the proper way to take supplements? It depends
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. These are general guidelines; always read the label and follow instructions!
Vitamins to take with a meal
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. This is because these vitamins need a little extra boost to be fully digested. 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, riboflavin and magnesium.
A study found that 32% more Vitamin D3 is absorbed by the body when it is taken with a meal.
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.
Vitamins to take on an empty stomach
Water-soluble vitamins, however, like Vitamin C and B vitamins, including folate, are often recommended to 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, one to two hours before a meal. Some doctors 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 irritation, try eating a very light snack (e.g. crackers or a smoothie) beforehand to minimize discomfort.
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, 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 with a full meal or just a snack helps prevent it.
How to take Natalist supplements
- Vitamin D3: take with a meal
- Iron - take one to two hours before a meal, with a glass of water or orange juice, which can boost absorption
- CoQ10: take with a meal
- Prenatal for her: take with a meal
- Prenatal for him: 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