Many medicines and supplements specify that they should be taken either before of after a meal—and I know that this means some time must pass, not gulping the med immediately next to the meal. However, I've never heard any general recommended durations between the meal and the medicine, other than vague handwavey numbers—and instructions define it only for a few medicines that seem to differ from the usual. Since I and many other people keep taking vitamins and whatnot, it would probably help to set any kind of average optimal durations, that I could put into my phone's timer app instead of the arbitrary interval with which I came up so far and which could easily be too long or too short.

Foreseeing the nitpicking: I sure know that ‘it varies’ depending on both the medicine and the person's metabolism and food habits. Still, any science-supported numbers would be better than nothing at all, which is what I have now. And if I judge my metabolism to be faster or slower than the ‘average’, I can adjust the duration myself—or perhaps a range of intervals could be defined, for lifestyles from active to sedentary. As for the medicine, I'll be glad to see the manufacturer's opinion in the instruction.

Previous research effort: was looking for this on the web on-and-off for months, found bupkis.

  • Meta: I don't consider this question to be asking for personal health advice or to be a fringe self-medicine question—as it's pertinent to everyone who's taken meds or supplements more than a couple times, and the answer should be general healthcare knowledge but somehow isn't.
    – aaa
    Apr 8, 2021 at 11:18
  • 2
    "I know that this means some time must pass, not gulping the med immediately next to the meal." -- You know this based on what?
    – Carey Gregory
    Apr 8, 2021 at 13:12
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    You say, "...vague handwavey numbers", but you don't mention what these numbers are or the source of them. As a prescribing physician, I have concrete numbers in my repertoire, but an answer would take time. Please take some of your own time to dig up a few sources - other than bupkis - then I'll be happy to add what I know. (Also, "it varies" is not nitpicky. Some meds need to be taken on an empty stomach, while others need to be taken with food excluding dairy(!), or before/after, etc.) My mom used to say, "God helps those who help themselves." For atheists, try Hercules and the wagoner. Apr 9, 2021 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


I asked a real doctor, and the answer is thirty minutes.

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