By Rachel Welch
Vitamins and supplements are a common topic in the health community and for good reason! They offer benefits and nutrition that may be hard to obtain from diet alone. Each individual will have different and specific needs to supplement specific nutrients, and there are several in particular that most people can benefit from! With so many helpful supplements to consider, the question of how to take them comes up. If you're like me, you may have a handful of supplements that you take every day, and it may seem easier to take them all at once to check it off your list! However, research suggests that we may need to evaluate this more carefully. Can you take multiple vitamins at the same time?
Which Vitamins Should We Take?
Here at Health By Principle, we have several helpful resources on vitamins and supplements that are helpful, and why! The majority of people can benefit from the following supplements:
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is vital for many reasons! It is a nutrient that our bodies create from time spent in the sunshine, and the correct balance of this sunny vitamin yields lots of cheerful benefits. Improved mood, skin health, energy, bone and joint function, and healthy hair are all impacted by vitamin D (1).
- Magnesium: Magnesium comes in different forms, and each of them plays an important role. Particularly, magnesium helps ensure the health of bones, muscles, joints, and tissue in the body. Certain forms may also assist with improved sleep quality, and better mental health (2)
- Electrolytes: Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorine, and phosphate help the body stay hydrated. They help with muscle and nerve function, as well as healing the body from damage (3). Vital organs like our kidneys rely heavily on electrolytes and proper hydration to work properly.
- Vitamin B Complex: Vitamin B in all of its various forms is another crucial nutrient. The various types of vitamin B include riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, biotin, and folic acid, among others. These help enzymes in the body to work properly, and help with tasks like breaking down food and carbohydrates, and moving nutrients throughout the body (4). Additionally, b vitamins help with brain function and energy!
- Vitamin C: This is another vitamin that helps with energy, skin, hair, and immunity! A great source of this nutrient is in foods like oranges, strawberries, and other citrus fruits.
- Calcium: Calcium is a mineral that helps with our bones, heart, muscles, and lungs. As a mineral, it is a bit different from other vitamins, and needs acid to break down and absorb into the body.
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins like A, D, E, and K are beneficial for our skin health, hair, and more. These vitamins are also all fat-soluble, which means that they can have negative consequences if you take too much. While excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins can be eliminated, fat-soluble nutrients can create toxicity. This is why it is important to always abide by the recommended dosage for any supplement or vitamin.
These are just some of the many valuable nutrients that our bodies create and need to be healthy and happy. So, to tackle the big question of how to take them.
Can you take multiple vitamins at the same time?
There are several layers to this answer that make it not so straightforward. This is partly due to the fact that most vitamins and supplements work best when paired with certain others. For instance, in order for nutrients of any kind to be absorbed, the body needs to be in a healthy-enough state to receive and hold onto the nutrients. Certain health issues such as lactose intolerance and celiac disease (if untreated), can lead to poor absorption rates, so it is important to consider your own health situation when evaluating a new vitamin regimen.
Many vitamins often need to be paired with a vitamin B supplement to absorb properly. As we mentioned above, vitamin B helps enzymes to move nutrients around, and without them, a supplement may not be absorbed.
Other supplements, such as turmeric may benefit from a match with black pepper to be absorbed, otherwise, it may not yield its maximum efficacy. Turmeric is used for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits with its most beneficial ingredient, curcumin as the active compound. Studies on turmeric initially became most common in Asian countries, where it has been used widely in culinary dishes and as a medicine for thousands of years. Researchers found that it not only helps to reduce inflammation but may also help with preventing cancer.
The partnership with black pepper is due to its compound piperine, which helps with absorption. Some research suggests that piperine can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000% (5).
There are several other vitamin/supplement pairings that are beneficial:
- Vitamin C and Iron: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron found in foods like vegetables. One way to gain this pairing's benefit is to eat a salad with spinach (rich in iron), and add tomato wedges or strawberry slices (full of vitamin C).
- Calcium and Vitamin D: We already discussed the benefits of vitamin D, and should also keep in mind that it works very well with calcium. The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium.
- Vitamins A, D, E, K, and healthy fats: As mentioned above, these vitamins are unique, in that they are fat soluble versus water soluble. This is important to remember, as vitamins that are fat-soluble can be harmful if taken in larger-than-recommended doses. However, these vitamins work very well with a small amount of healthy fat (like a bit of avocado or olive oil), and can be a beneficial combination (6).
Just as many vitamin pairings are helpful, there are also some to avoid.
There is research to support that taking certain minerals together with other minerals can decrease their rate of absorption. An example of this is calcium and magnesium. These minerals work well together inside of the body, but should actually be taken at least two hours apart. This will help to ensure proper absorption (7). If they are taken too close together, they have the potential to counteract one another’s efficacy.
Another pair to avoid taking at the same time is fish oil and ginkgo biloba. The omega-3 benefits of fish oil are beneficial for heart health and weight management. Ginkgo biloba helps with cognitive performance. However, they both can lead to thinning of the blood, making it risky to take them at the same time. It is also helpful to know that ginkgo-based supplements have been shown to negatively interact with certain SSRIs and antidepressants. Make sure to consult your doctor if you take prescription medications, prior to adding in a new supplement.
Another combination to avoid is that of melatonin and St. John's Wort. St. John's Wort has been used as a natural approach to treating anxiety and depression. Additionally, it has been known to enhance the sedative properties of herbs and supplements.
Since melatonin is a natural sleep aid, it is best to avoid taking these two together (7)! Also, women should be aware that St. John's Wort has also been proven to make certain oral contraceptives ineffective (8). Remember to always discuss new supplements with your doctor to ensure they won't interact with any of your current medications!
Just as combinations of supplements can be helpful or detrimental, the timing in which you take vitamins may also be impactful!
Timing is Everything
Many supplements impact energy in different ways. As we discussed, vitamin B is helpful for boosting energy, and supplements like magnesium and calcium may help to promote sleep through their potential sedative-type properties. It should come as no surprise that taking certain vitamins at certain times of day should be based on which vitamins you are taking, and what effects they have.
Additionally, it is important to consider which vitamins are water-soluble, versus fat-soluble.
Vitamin C and B12 are both water-soluble and energizing. Therefore, it makes the most sense to take these in the morning. Some doctors even recommend taking these on an empty stomach with a glass of water to reach maximum absorption (9).
Vitamins that are fat-soluble (like A, D, E, and K) should be taken with foods that contain fat. You don't need much, and it is suggested that even a glass of milk, food cooked in oil, or a bit of yogurt will do the trick. The fat allows these vitamins to cling on, and become fully absorbed.
Other nutrients like calcium are minerals that require special care. We talked a bit about how too many minerals at once can be a bad thing. To ensure absorption of calcium carbonate or citrate (two main forms), it is recommended to take them with food. This is because, to be properly absorbed, they require acids to help break them down. When we eat, our stomachs create plenty of acid that can help with breaking it down naturally, and properly (9).
So, with all of this information at our disposal, what is the final word?
Take all Vitamins all at once, yay or nay?
In short, it depends. As with any health-related question, the answer is not completely straightforward. There are many vitamin and supplement combinations that are beneficial to one another. However, there are also combinations that are best to avoid. Add to that the factor of timing certain supplements to get certain benefits, and there are multiple things to consider.
It seems that to establish a perfect supplement regimen, there may be some necessary planning and research!
You should always approach any new supplement with proper research, knowledge, and ideally, a consultation with your physician. When choosing a vitamin, make sure you understand the energy-related effects of the supplement you are taking. Is it going to increase energy, or have a sleepy/sedative effect?
Also pay attention to if a supplement is water or fat-soluble. If it’s water-soluble, remember to take it with a full glass of water. If it is fat-soluble, take it with a bit of food which contains healthy fats. Remember to make sure that it is compatible with any others that you may take at the same time.
So, the answer to our question is you can take supplements and vitamins at the same time, in certain circumstances.
As with anything that we put into our bodies, it's a wise choice to fully understand the potential risks and benefits. Vitamins can be a healthy addition to a daily routine as long as you manage them thoughtfully.
Thankfully, you are now that much better equipped to create your perfect, supplement schedule!
Remember, if you’re at a loss of where to begin with sourcing your supplements, Health By Principle can help! By providing organic supplements free of unnecessary fillers, you get everything you need, and nothing you don’t! Our products are backed by brilliant scientists, and a team that genuinely cares about the health and wellbeing of all.
- Delightful Vitamin D, and its Power to Nourish Your Skin. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/delightful-vitamin-d-and-its-power-to-nourish-your-skin
- Magnesium Supplements 101. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/magnesium-supplements-101?_pos=2&_sid=9e2089aca&_ss=r
- Electrolyte Supplements 101: Staying Hydrated. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from Health By Principle website: https://www.healthbyprinciple.com/blogs/news/electrolyte-supplements-101-everything-you-need-to-know-to-stay-hydrated?_pos=7&_sid=bb8160054&_ss=r
- Health Benefits of B Complex. (n.d.). Retrieved from WebMD website: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-b-complex#1
- Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., Koh, W., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2012). Discovery of curcumin, a component of golden spice, and its miraculous biological activities. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 39(3), 283–299. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05648.x
- Nutrient Combinations for the Best Absorption. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bastyr University website: https://bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/nutrient-combinations-best-absorption
- Dangerous duos: 5 supplement combos to avoid. (n.d.). Retrieved from MDLinx website: https://www.mdlinx.com/article/dangerous-duos-5-supplement-combos-to-avoid/4clJmVB8yYuNCZjX1sjB2K
- Murphy, P. A., Kern, S. E., Stanczyk, F. Z., & Westhoff, C. L. (2005). Interaction of St. John’s Wort with oral contraceptives: effects on the pharmacokinetics of norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol, ovarian activity and breakthrough bleeding. Contraception, 71(6), 402–408. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2004.11.004
- The Best Time to Take Vitamins. (2021, April 26). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from Cleveland Clinic website: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-time-to-take-vitamins/
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