I switched to a vegetarian diet a while back, and I am now taking a few supplements consisting of common minerals, vitamins and omega-3's as a compliment to my regular diet.

When should I take the supplements to ensure that they are absorbed most effectively?

Does it matter what time of day it is, and does it matter what else I have in my stomach at the time?

I have read that some vitamins are fat soluble – does that mean that they should be taken with a meal? If taken with a meal – does eating a lot of food reduce "digestion efficiency" of the supplements?

What I have done, which is based entirely on my own thoughts, which are not based on any particular research:

I have been taking my supplements during the afternoon a few hours before dinner. At around 5 pm, body metabolism is at a high, and I usually don't have a lot of food in my stomach. My thinking has therefore been that the body will be efficient at absorbing the contents of the supplements.

I have avoided taking supplements in the morning because I am a morning coffee-drinker, and caffeine is laxative.

1 Answer 1


To get the most of your vitamins/minerals is quite simple, really.

There are two types of soluble vitamins/minerals:

  1. Water-soluble
  2. Fat-soluble

Absorption of water-soluble vitamins is quite easy, considering almost everything you eat/drink contains water.

However, if you want maximum absorption rate for fat-soluble vitamins/minerals, you'll want to have some fat along with the supplement(s) you consume.

This is why most multivitamin boxes will instruct you to consume the pill with dinner (because it's presumed that fat will be present with your dinner).

Abstract - http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/12/3/162.abstract

'fact sheet' - http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/fat-soluble-vitamins-a-d-e-and-k-9-315/

  • For fat-soluble: is it enough with "some fat" (like a glass of milk, or an avocado)? Does an entire meal inhibit absorption of supplements?
    – P A N
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 18:55
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    An entire meal would not inhibit absorption.. that's not how it works.. your body doesn't "skip" things because you stuff yourself. A good example is calories... you can't stuff yourself with food, making your body "skip" calories. Exceptions do exist, such as laxatives.
    – Othya
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 19:03
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    This is a good general overview, but there are exceptions. For example, zinc is a competitive inhibitor of copper absorption, so supplementing both at the same time is counterproductive.
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 8:17
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    Large meals can SLOW absorption by increasing gastric emptying time and other factors, but generally won't decrease overall QUANTITY absorbed. There are, however, some exceptions - fiber in the gut can bind certain chemicals, for example. I usually go by what the supplement bottle states.
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 18:55
  • Iron is a notable exception. Iron is best absorbed with some vitamin C on a further empty stomach.
    – melvio
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 20:20

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