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We take vitamins and supplements with the goal of improving our health. Yet what we may not know is that we have to take it at the right time in order for them, especially certain nutritional supplements to be effective.
Here is a supplement timing guide to help keep you right on track.
When to Take Supplements
A multi is the most common supplement people take. Multivitamins contain major fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and water soluble vitamins B and C. The fat soluble vitamins are better consumed with fat-rich foods such as animal or vegetable fat (not butter-soaked eggs or greasy burgers). Vitamins B and C can make one queasy when consumed with a light meal, thus they should be taken with a solid meal.
Vitamin B12 is best taken on an empty stomach. So if you’re taking an energy drink with B12, it’s best to drink it mid-morning or mid-afternoon on an empty stomach or during a mid-training session.
To sum it up, multivitamins must be taken with the largest solid food meal of the day/main meal – regardless of whether that’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Iron supplements are important for active people, especially females. Take iron mid-morning or mid-afternoon on an empty stomach for best absorption. Eat a light snack/meal if you experience nausea or stomach upset.
Note: Iron must be taken separately from other nutritional supplements as it can obstruct with absorption, especially calcium and vitamin E.
Calcium and other bone formulas are 2 essential minerals for individuals living an active lifestyle. Calcium and magnesium must always be taken together, with a ratio of 1:2 prior to working out. Take minerals with your pre-workout meal as these are enhanced by eating.
Don’t forget to take one dose before bed again as these help with sleep and muscle relaxation.
Must-try: Calcium Plus
Fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids supplements have to be taken with your primary meal of the day, the same time you take your multivitamin as fat takes time to empty from the stomach.
Note: If you don’t take a multivitamin supplement, take your fish oil with vitamin D and if your primary meal is directly before exercising, take fish oil during dinner.
Must-try: Omega 3 Fish Oil
Take high-fiber supplements with your main pre-race or pre-workout meal but move it 3-4 hours earlier before doing physically-demanding activities or take it early in the day before working out.
Probiotics have acidophilus and lactobacillus (crucial for a healthy digestive system, treating Candida and replenishing intestinal flora). They should be consumed on an empty stomach or 2-3 hours after your last meal of the day.
Antioxidants help fight off oxidative stress. However, taking them before exercising can decrease its effectiveness as it reduces the body’s natural defence mechanism from stress. Hence, antioxidants must be taken with your main meal of the day – in moderation and as far as possible from a workout session.
You can take protein shakes and supplements anytime – post workout, with breakfast (or as “breakfast on the go” for protein shakes) and before bed.
Creatine and Glutamine
Take Creatine 30 minutes before and after exercising. For glutamine, take it upon waking, 30 minutes to an hour after exercising and before bed.
Summary: Supplement Schedule
Refer to the supplement schedule table below to help you time your supplements correctly.
As they say, “Timing is everything”, and that can’t be any truer than for vitamins and supplements. Take them on time so you can be at your healthiest!
Shoot us an e-mail if you have questions about timing your supplements!
Rooting for you,
~ The HSO Team ~