Backed by science
There is well-founded scientific and published research to support this concept.
Denise John, our senior science editor, has a BS in biology and a PhD in neuroscience. She learned to juggle in physical education in ninth grade and still can do it. She spends a lot of time interpreting research, and you can see what she learns about various health conditions in our growing library of articles called goop PhD. You can send your own questions to Denise at [email protected].
Dear Goop, is there a certain time of day when it is best to take vitamins and nutritional supplements? And should they be taken with or without food? – cat M.
Hello Cat. When it comes to taking supplements, these two questions come up frequently. If you are asking yourself these questions, you are probably already taking supplements. This is a great way to avoid nutritional gaps in case your diet falls short.
Still to decide with your doctor which nutritional supplements are best for you, consider your unique diet, lifestyle, and health. And you can also discuss some of the research below with them.
WITH OR WITHOUT FOOD
Taking supplements with food is usually the best rule of thumb. It can be easier on the stomach and most nutrients are better absorbed that way, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Multivitamins that contain a combination of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. – can suit you good with a smoothie or meal (these summer rolls are our lunch right now) so your body gets the nutrients it needs.
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When it comes to custom supplements, research becomes more nuanced. Studies show that people absorb vitamin D 50 percent better with the largest meal of the day. Ingesting algae and fish oils with food can improve absorption, but it depends on the type of oil and its encapsulation. Either way, ingesting it with food helps minimize fishy burp. The combination of turmeric with piperine, a compound found in black pepper, can aid its absorption. And combining probiotics with meals can help bring more nutrients into the body.
However, some nutrients, such as B vitamins, can be better absorbed on an empty stomach. One study showed a 33 percent increase in the intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid (B9) during fasting (compared to taking the supplements with meals). Iron is also better absorbed on an empty stomach, but often causes an upset stomach when ingested this way. And calcium can be taken with or without food, depending on the type.
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MORNING, LUNCH OR NIGHT
When to take your supplements naturally depends on when you eat and sleep. Typically, it’s best to consume energizing nutrients – B vitamins, green coffee bean extract, CoQ10, etc. – in the morning or early afternoon.
To keep us balanced and healthy, our body only absorbs a limited amount at a time. So spreading supplements through the morning and afternoon can help your body get more of what it needs. In addition to taking your multis in the morning, taking vitamin D in the afternoon can allow for better absorption, when this is the time of your biggest meal of the day. And of course, melatonin should be taken for occasional sleep support before going to bed.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied on for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of a doctor or alternative practitioner, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and not necessarily the views of goop.