The Optimal Time To Take Food Supplements

As many of you are aware, vitamins and minerals are the spark plugs of the nutritional world and are vital for ensuring optimal health. If a family member has been off their food, or their health has been under par, then they may require extra nutrients in food supplement form to give them a boost. In fact, did you realise that nutrient deficiencies can contribute to fussy eating and lack of appetite/interest in food? Specific health conditions may also increases someone’s nutrient requirement over and above that which even the healthiest of diets can provide. Every day our clients ask us “Is there an optimal time to take food supplements?” and so we have put together some of the key rules to help you too.

The timing and way in which we take our supplements can affect the way in which they are absorbed and utilised by the body. This can make all the difference to how we feel and respond to vitamins, minerals and other food supplements. We are all conscious that we need to keep healthy and it is always comforting to know that when you invest in some supplements, that you will be getting the most out of them. Here are some great tips to help you and your family get the best results from the vitamins and minerals and other supplements you are taking.

It is important to be aware that the quality of supplements can vary considerably, and at NatureDoc we only recommend top quality products that we know are really effective. To help best support you and your little ones and to ensure you are all getting the best from your supplements, find our top tips below to help you navigate the world of supplements and have the confidence that you will benefit from these.

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Supplement Do’s

  1. Fat soluble vitamins A, D and E & K are best given with fatty food to help aid absorption (including nut butters, coconut oil, oily fish etc).
  2. Give Fish oils with food to aid absorption.
  3. Take probiotics on an empty stomach (either on waking or before bed) and away from any anti-microbials or antibiotics.
  4. Always take minerals and herbs with food.
  5. It is important to give digestive enzymes and other digestive aids (including herbs) with food.
  6. Give magnesium and calcium at night time as these have a calming effect. They also work synergistically so it can be helpful to take them together.
  7. When taking turmeric add some fat (e.g coconut milk or coconut oil) and black pepper to aid absorption (the best quality turmeric supplements include piperine, a compound found in black pepper).
  8. CoQ10 is best taken with some dietary fat to help absorption and is ideally taken in the morning to avoid affecting sleep.
  9. Iron and vitamin C should be given together to help with absorption, ie. take an iron supplement with a glass of fresh orange juice. Iron is also best taken on an empty stomach.
  10. Keep supplements in a cool dark dry place

Supplement Don’ts

  1. Never heat water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C as this may damage them.
  2. Zinc can cause some queasiness, so give before bed or with food. Avoid taking it alongside iron and calcium as they may compete for absorption.
  3. Don’t give B vitamins in the evening as they can have an energising effect. These are best taken at the start of the day, with some food.
  4. If your child is sensitive to supplements, try dividing the dose into three smaller doses per day.
  5. Never heat probiotics to more than body temperature as this can harm the strains of bacteria.
  6. Don’t double up supplements if you miss a dose, simply take the correct dose at the next scheduled time.
  7. Ideally don’t give supplements containing B vitamins, iodine or adrenal support in the evenings as these can be energising. These are best taken at the start of the day or at least before midday.
  8. Taking supplements with hot drinks can affect their effectiveness, so always take with room temperature liquids.
  9. Don’t take iron with tea or coffee as the tannins in these drinks can block absorption
  10. Only ever introduce one new supplement per day so you can monitor any effect.

If you or your little ones find it difficult to swallow capsules or tablets here are some handy tips on how to give your kids food supplements.

Lucinda Recommends

We know many people want to know what products we recommend but unfortunately for regulatory reasons, recommendations have to be private. However all is not lost, you can join NatureDoc Live! for monthly Zoom Q&As with Lucinda, as well as a forum for asking questions, and access to recommendations in our blogs which appear when you log in.


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  1. We give our 18 month old his viridian probiotic in his milk as its powder. Is this going to be an issue? He is constantly on antibiotics so we do really want him to benefit. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Claire, If you put the probiotic in just before you give your son his morning or evening milk then this should be fine. Just never heat the milk whilst the probiotic is in there otherwise it can negate the effect of the probiotic. Do your best to give it away from other food.

  2. So interesting to read how these different supplements interact with each other at different times of the day – it’s something many people don’t think to consider when purchasing, either simply taking them at night or in the morning. Zinc is another one people rarely consider the timings of, and should really be taken 1 – 2 hours before a meal to help with appropriate digestion and uptake.