If you’re reading this, you already know that taking a daily multivitamin with 400-800 mcg of folic acid is good for your health. But how can you get the most from your supplement? It all has to do with when and how you take it.
Should I take my multi-vitamin on an empty stomach or with food?
Try to take your supplement with a meal. Your body makes better use of vitamins when you already have food in your stomach. If you can’t take it with a meal, try to take it within 30 minutes of eating. Taking supplements with food can also help prevent nausea.
When is the best time to take a vitamin?
It’s most important to take the supplement when it is most convenient for you and when you’ll remember to take it. However, you may not want to take it in the afternoon or evening. Doing so may prevent you from sleeping well that evening.
Do vitamin supplements and medicines mix well?
If you are taking any medicines, ask your doctor if taking a multivitamin is safe. Some vitamins don’t mix with certain medicines such as blood pressure and blood thinning medicines. Other medicines may increase your need for certain vitamins.
Do multi-vitamins replace a good diet?
No! Vitamin supplements cannot replace a good diet. They won’t give you protein, fiber and many other important nutrients found in foods. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Vitamin supplements need to work with these foods to help you stay healthy.
Is there anything special to look for when buying supplements?
Be sure that there is a ‘USP’ on the label. USP stands for United States Pharmacopia. This means that the supplement meets national quality standards. Also make sure that the vitamins aren’t old. Check the expiration date on the package. If it has expired, will expire soon, or there is no expiration date, don’t buy the supplement.
Anything else I need to know?
Keep your vitamins in a dry, cool place. Don’t store them in a hot and humid place like a bathroom. Also, be sure to store them safely so that little children can’t take them.
Barbara Kass-Annese, RNCNP, MSN, is a clinician who has written extensively on the topic of vitamins and women’s health. Currently with the California Family Health Council, she also serves as a medical consultant to the Go Folic! Women’s Nutrition Project. We are lucky that she has agreed to write a semi-monthly column, “Clinician’s Corner” for our blog.