The Best Time to Take Dietary Supplements

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

The majority of adults take dietary supplements either occasionally or every day. Just as what supplements one should take, the time of day and whether it should be taken with food or on empty stomach is equally important. Follow these quick guidelines to get the most out of your supplements.

Woman Taking Supplements

Vitamin C

Your body does not naturally produce or store excessive Vitamin C. So instead of taking large doses of Vitamin C every now and then, it is best to take a consistent daily dose of a moderate amount, like 500 mg. Vitamin C is water soluble so your body will use what it needs and the rest is excreted in your urine.

Various Vitamin B and B Complex

Many people find that taking Vitamin B can enhance energy as well feel more relaxed and less stressed. That is why Vitamin B is also known as a de-stress vitamin. There are a total of 8 Vitamin B’s and each play a slightly different role in our bodies. Whether you take a specific Vitamin B or a B complex supplement, consider taking this in the morning before breakfast instead of in the evening. This can give you a slight energy boost to start your day and because it is water soluble, you can take it on an empty stomach as well.

Pregnancy Supplements

Quite a few of supplements are needed during pregnancy; one of which is folic acid. It is recommended to take a daily folic acid supplement at least 3 months prior to conception (medical professionals even recommend taking folic acid supplements 12 months prior). For most prenatal supplements, the best time to take them is after breakfast. But if morning sickness and nausea is an issue, then taking vitamins just before bedtime with a healthy snack is appropriate as well. And for women considering a DHA supplement, taking it after meal is a good time as DHA is fat soluble and food can help enhance DHA absorption.


It is recommended that mineral supplements such as iron, calcium and magnesium be taken with meals. Taking these on an empty stomach may cause gastrointestinal discomfort including nausea or even abdominal pain.

Vitamin D

As winter is closing in and we are covering up in layers, a daily dose of 400 to 1000 IU of Vitamin D supplement is generally recommended, not only for immune support but also as a cancer-protective measure as recommended by the Canadian Cancer Society. Similar to DHA, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient and it’s best to take with meals, preferably with breakfast.


Probiotic supplements are often recommended to support gut flora when antibiotics are prescribed. The best time to take probiotics is just before breakfast, providing food and liquid for the friendly bugs to survive the intestinal tract transport and reach the final destination of the large intestine.


When you take your vitamins and minerals matters just as much as what you are taking. So depending on the type of dietary supplement, be sure to follow the above guidelines to ensure that you get the most out of your supplementation.


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1 thought on “The Best Time to Take Dietary Supplements”

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