When it comes to daily dietary supplements, when you take them is just as important as which ones you take. Sure, you can pop a multivitamin every morning and call it good. But spreading your vitamins and supplements throughout the day and taking them around meals ensures that you get the full benefit of each. Here is a simple guide to which supplements you should consider taking when, to keep you running strong all day long.
If you’re not a fan of yogurt for breakfast, consider starting your day with a probiotic supplement to get your intestinal tract, well, on track. Most probiotic supplements are best taken before eating, when your stomach is less active.
Benefits: Immune and digestive support. Plus, probiotics improve absorption, increasing the nutrient benefit of foods you eat the rest of the day.
Try: Jarro-Dophilus EPS; an enteric coating on the capsule protects the cultures from stomach acids.
Unless you follow a strict meal plan, you’re probably missing some essential vitamins and minerals in your diet. Multivitamins—especially those formulated for your specific needs, whether you’re pregnant, of a certain age, or have certain allergies or deficiencies—can ensure you get as close to 100 percent of your Recommended Daily Intake as possible. Some multis can cause mild stomach upset, so take them with food. To enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A and E, make sure your breakfast includes some oil; healthy choices include avocado, hemp oil, nuts or eggs.
Benefits: Covers gaps in daily nutrition; provides an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you don’t always get from food
Try: Nature’s Way Alive! Multi-Vitamin; it doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Omega-3 (a type of essential fatty acid) typically comes from fish, seafood or seaweed oils, and has been linked to myriad benefits such as cardiovascular health, reduced joint stiffness and depression, and improved cognition. Plenty of doctors recommend supplementing with it, especially if you don’t eat a lot of seafood. Omega-3 can cause nausea and gastric distress if consumed on an empty stomach, so take it with a primary meal. Lunch, when your stomach is less likely to be sensitive, is better than breakfast.
Benefits: Anti-inflammatory action, joint health, cardiovascular health, mood support
Try: Nordic Naturals Omega-3 or Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega; Nordic Naturals is well reputed for its high-quality fish oil products and sustainability practices.
Calcium isn’t just for kids. Even grown-ups need plenty, especially post-menopausal women whose risk for osteoporosis increases with age. Milk, yogurt and cheese pack a ton of calcium but also a lot of fat, so supplementing can be a smart move for those watching their waistlines. Calcium is best absorbed in divided doses of 500 mg or less, so take your first dose at lunch, followed by a second dose at dinner. Bonus: Take it with vitamin D to improve its absorption into the body.
Benefits: bone health, nervous system support
Try: Jarrow Bone-Up; combines calcium with vitamins D and K to improve absorption.
Fiber should be taken separately from other supplements because it can interfere with their absorption, so midafternoon is a good time. You’ll feel more full and less inclined to snack.
Benefits: Promotes digestive regularity and healthy blood lipid levels
Try: Renew Life FiberSmart; the powder form (also available in a capsule) gives you a break from all the pill swallowing.
If you feel sluggish or out of focus in the afternoons, resist the urge to pour yourself a cup of joe and reach for the B12 instead. A lack of this B vitamin can cause fatigue and mood fluctuations. Vitamin B12 is best absorbed when your stomach is not super-full, so take it between meals. Taken midafternoon, it also helps convert lunch carbs and fats into energy.
Benefits: Energy production, nervous system support, hormonal regulation
Try: Jarrow Methyl B-12; the methylated form of B vitamins absorbs more efficiently as it does not need to be converted by the liver.
Enzymes are best taken with dinner—especially if you eat late—to promote complete digestion before bed and ensure more restful sleep.
Benefits: Maximize digestion, prevent gastric distress, increase nutrient absorption
Try: Enzymedica Digest Gold or Enzymedica Digest Gold + Probiotics; both products offer full spectrum support through the whole digestive tract.
Take your second dose of the day with dinner to promote absorption. Taken in the evening, calcium in combination with magnesium can relax the muscles and lead to sound sleep.
Benefits: Encourages muscle relaxation, bone health
Try: Jarrow Bone-Up
Taken right before bed, magnesium calms the mind and nervous system in preparation for sleep. It can also encourage bowel regularity.
Benefits: Relaxes muscles, supports the nervous system, promotes bone and heart health, and regularity
Try: Natural Vitality CALM; the number one selling magnesium supplement tastes great and is easy to use.