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When is the Best Time to Take Multivitamins?

Most of us take multivitamins to fulfil our nutrient quota. But have you considered the timing? Before you start searching, ‘When is the best time to take multivitamins?’ We asked experts for you. Since supplements come in handy, we asked all the FAQs—should you be consuming multivitamins in the first place? Does the timing impact the way your body absorbs them? Keep reading.


Vogue Arabia, July/August 2019. Photo: Jason Kim

Should you take a multivitamin?

According to Nutritionist, Suman Agarwal, there isn’t a specific age for one to start consuming multivitamins. “Anyone whose vitamin and mineral requirements are not meant through regular food should consult their healthcare provider and consider starting a multivitamin regime,” she says.

Diving deeper, medical nutritionist, Dr Vishakha Shivdasani states that there are certain groups of people who need multivitamins to prevent deficiencies. “For example, pregnant women require folic acid and iron, women during menstruating years require iron, vegetarians are most often deficient in B12, geriatrics might need calcium, and most of the population requires vitamin D.”

What should your multivitamins contain?

Simplifying it, Agarwal states that your multivitamins should include all B-complex vitamins, as modern living and cooking techniques often deplete these nutrients. She also suggests it should contain trace minerals too—zinc, selenium, iron, and calcium, along with fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E. One can also benefit from antioxidants like lycopene and astaxanthin. “While it’s not necessary for multivitamins to contain large amounts of B12 and D3, since they are present in small amounts, it can still be beneficial to include them.”

When is the best time to take multivitamins?

Vitamin C: After breakfast (Note: due to drug regulations, vitamin C should be prescribed by your healthcare provider)

Iron: Best absorbed on an empty stomach, at least one hour before a meal or two hours after. However, iron can irritate the stomach, so taking it with food might be better for some people.

B-Complex: Make sure to consume it in the first half of the day. According to Dr Shivdasani, it can cause insomnia for some people if taken in the second half.

Calcium: Best absorbed with food, particularly food rich in vitamin D which aids calcium absorption. Agarwal recommends having it along with a glass of buttermilk.

Magnesium: Best taken 15 minutes before bedtime, for better sleep and relaxation.

The rule of thumb? Fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed when taken with food, while water-soluble vitamins can be taken with or without food, says Dr Shivdasani. “Some minerals such as iron, may be better absorbed on an empty stomach, while others, such as calcium may be better absorbed with food.”

Multivitamins that you should pair together

Iron & vitamin C: Vitamin C with iron enhances the latter’s absorption.

Calcium, Magnesium, vitamin D & K2: Works synergistically for bone health. “Most patients I see only take calcium or at best with D3,” adds Dr Shivdasani. “A combination of vitamin K2, magnesium, and vitamin D with calcium, ensures that calcium gets directed towards the bones instead of sitting in the arteries and causes calcium blockages.”

Multivitamins that you shouldn’t pair together

Zinc & Copper: While both are essential minerals, they compete for absorption. Taking high doses of zinc can interfere with copper absorption. “It’s generally recommended to take them at different times of the day, with zinc in the morning and copper in the afternoon or evening. I see a fair number of women who take zinc indefinitely-without copper which often results in hair fall,” she adds.

Iron & Calcium: Calcium can interfere with iron absorption.

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