According to health experts, the best time to take vitamin D for maximum absorption

When it comes to the supplement aisle, multivitamins, omega-3s, and probiotics may get the most real estate. However, if this multi doesn’t come with a dose of vitamin D, your doctor may recommend adding another pill to your routine.

Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, a board-certified sports dietitian in Miami, explains that vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, and K are the others). It’s also a hormone our bodies create after being exposed to the sun, playing many important roles in our bodies, Ehsani adds. These include immune system support, muscle and nerve function, your body’s ability to absorb calcium, and more.

Although vitamin D is critical to overall health, research suggests that 25% of Americans are deficient. This could be because there are few dietary sources of vitamin D and many people do not see the sun during the winter, live in regions with little sunlight, and/or keep their skin covered outdoors.

The average recommended adult daily value of vitamin D is 20 micrograms (800 IU or international units). For reference, an egg and a 3-ounce can of tuna each have more than 1 mcg, 3 ounces of salmon offer about 12 mcg, and 3 ounces of trout offer about 14 mcg. Unless you take one tablespoon of cod liver oil (34 mcg) or eat salmon or trout daily, it can be challenging to reach this mark through food alone, as most food sources of vitamin D provide small amounts.

That’s why many people take a vitamin D supplement. However, you want to make sure not only that you’re taking the right amount, but that your body is absorbing it properly. Read on to find out when to take your vitamin D supplement and what factors you should be aware of.

Factors to consider

Health conditions

First, various conditions can influence an individual’s vitamin D levels (or needs). These include osteoporosis or osteopenia, depression, kidney or liver disease, and having a family history of neurological disease, to name a few.

According to David Davidson, MD, a cardiologist at Endeavor Health Medical Group in Greater Chicago, it’s especially important for people with absorption problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease or gastric bypass surgery, to work with their doctors to dial in their dose and receive them personalized. guidance on when to take vitamin D.

Body size can also alter absorption and dosage, so be sure to ask your doctor for an individual recommendation before you buy supplements and start taking vitamin D.

Individual preference

Regardless of why you include a vitamin D supplement in your regimen, it’s important to keep in mind when you remember to take it. It may seem obvious, but it’s hard to get the full health benefits of vitamin D if you forget to take it most of the time.

Many people do well by stacking habits or combining the routine of taking vitamin D with something else they do daily on autopilot. Keep this in mind when considering when to take your supplements.

Ehsani shows how to put this into practice: if you always brush your teeth in the morning after breakfast, for example, you can place your vitamin D supplements next to your toothbrush to remind you that you to take every day?

Dietary habits

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is advisable to combine it with a meal that includes foods high in fat, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy and fatty seafood, to maximize absorption.

Vitamin D type

There are two types of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Plants, fungi, and UV-enriched foods provide D2, while we get D3 from sunlight and animal ingredients. Although both are important and beneficial, vitamin D3 is more bioavailable than vitamin D2. This means that your body uses vitamin D3 more efficiently, so you may need a higher dose of vitamin D2 to achieve the same effects as with a D3-only supplement.

Before starting any new supplement regimen, talk to your healthcare provider about the best form of vitamin D for you. And if you already take a vitamin D supplement, confirm with them that you’re taking the correct form.

Morning vs evening

Well, cut to the chase: According to the current scientific consensus, Ehsani and Davidson agree that it doesn’t matter what time of day you take your vitamin D supplement.

Many people find it helpful to take supplements in the morning before the day wears them out. Others like to store them in a drawer near the kitchen cleaning supplies to pull out after tidying up after dinner. It shouldn’t make a substantial difference in absorption rates whether you scroll to one side or the other, although it’s easier to remember if you pick once and stick with it.

With or without meals

When you take your vitamin D supplement shouldn’t matter, but it should be taken with food, Davidson confirms. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, foods, especially healthy fats, will help with vitamin D absorption.

For example, if you usually make toast with almond butter every morning, consider having it with this meal, as almond butter contains healthy fats, advises Ehsani. Or, if you like to serve dinner with a salad topped with a handful of walnuts and drizzled with a vinaigrette, get your vitamin D before you sit down to dig in.

It may be impractical to take it with meals if you eat most of your meals out and realistically can’t take your vitamin D supplement with you wherever you go, Ehsani acknowledges.

So, if this isn’t a realistic proposition, tell your doctor about your schedule and when you think it might work best, and ask for their finalist recommendation.

Is there a better time?

As with any new medication or supplement, it’s important to check with your healthcare provider to determine the best time for you. As a general rule, though, the best time is what works best for you, Ehsani says.

Ideally, you should take your vitamin D supplement with a meal or snack that includes a source of fat. But if this strategy feels difficult to follow, or if you notice nausea, constipation, noticeable changes in appetite, or other adverse symptoms after taking the supplement at this time of day, be sure to talk to your doctor.

The bottom line

The best time to take a vitamin D supplement is when it fits well into your day and when you remember to take it.

When choosing a vitamin D supplement, consider opting for vitamin D3 over D2 so your body can use it more efficiently. Also, Ehsani and Davidson confirm that you should ideally take your vitamin D supplement with a meal that contains fat to aid absorption. For example, if you like to take vitamin D first thing in the morning, long before you normally eat breakfast, or prefer to take your supplements right before bed, consider doing so with a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of nut butter, Ehsani says. This way, you’ll enjoy two wellness wins in one: better vitamin D absorption i all the legitimate health benefits of nuts.

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