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Supplement Timing - What? and When?

What is the Best Time of Day to Take Different Supplements ...


Do you currently take supplements, but perhaps are not quite sure when is the best time of day to take them? Or are you unsure if timing matters when taking them?

Here our Nutrition Team delve into the research and help you uncover the most optimal way to be taking supplements. 


Probiotics 

Does timing matter with probiotics? They certainly have numerous benefits because they contain live microorganisms, which support healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Depending on the manufacturer of the probiotic, you will be advised to take them either in the morning on an empty stomach, or taken along with a meal. Studies have shown that it depends on the strains in the probiotics. 

Some research suggests that Saccharomyces boulardii microorganisms survive in equal numbers with or without a meal (1). 

On the other hand, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium survive best when taken up to 30 minutes before a meal (2). 

However, the most important thing with taking a probiotic is the consistency, rather than the time of day. There have been studies that show the positive changes to the gut microbiome, regardless if the probiotics were taken with a meal or not. 

 

Vitamins

Water soluble vitamins (B vitamins, Vitamin C) are best taken on an empty stomach. This means they are most effective when taken in the morning, prior to having breakfast. 

Fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, K) are best absorbed when taken after a meal which included healthy fats. Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved in our bodies using fats. It is more important to take these fat soluble vitamins with a meal, rather than at a specific time of day (3). 

Minerals 

The important mineral magnesium can be taken before bed. This mineral plays a large part in your nervous system and therefore can support relaxation and sleep (4). 

Magnesium Glycinate is a form of magnesium which in particular is ideal for sleep. Glycine is an amino acid, bound to magnesium which has a calming effect on the brain, so it can promote a better sleep. 

Antioxidants 

There is no hard and fast rule for when to take antioxidant supplements. Antioxidants, for example vitamins A, C, E, are a mixture of fat soluble (A, E) and water soluble (C). This determines when you should be taking them. 

Fat soluble vitamins should be taken with a meal, preferably with healthy fats, and water soluble can be taken on an empty stomach in the morning. It is best to try and get your antioxidants from food, unless of course you have a specific nutrient deficiency. 


Digestive Enzymes 

When you take a digestive enzyme is incredibly important. A digestive enzyme needs a substrate in order to catalyse a reaction – in other words, food. If you are not producing enough enzymes naturally, supplements can be a great answer. 

Taking your enzyme supplements on an empty stomach means they won’t have anything to kick them into action. Make sure to take them around 30 minutes before you have a meal; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Having them before food is more important than the actual time of day (5). 

Protein Shakes 

A factor which will determine the best time to take a protein shake, will be your overall goals. 

Drinking a protein shake before a workout will give you a good amount of energy and can stimulate cells to reduce likelihood of muscle damage or fatigue (6). 

However, some people prefer to drink their protein shakes immediately after a workout. This is because you can burn protein when you exercise and may have depleted your body’s stores. Many studies show that post workout is when your muscles are able to absorb the most amount of protein (7). 

The benefits of having a morning protein shake is the great boost to your energy levels. The energy will be released much slower and this is what will help you to keep going throughout the day, with greater focus and energy.

In the evening the protein will support your overnight recovery and increase the process of muscle growth. 

If you’re recovering from an injury or building muscle mass for greater endurance, having some additional protein in the evening might be of great help in optimising your goals (8). 

However, do remember that it is better to take your vitamins and supplements at any time of the day than not at all. When taking supplements, consistency is key. 



References

  • Toscano, M. De Grandi, R. Stronati, L. et al. 2017. Effect ofLactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536 on the healthy gut microbiota composition at phyla and species level: A preliminary study. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 23(15), p.2696.
  • Tompkins, T. Mainville, I. Arcand, Y. 2011. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Beneficial Microbes, 2(4), pp.295-303.
  • Reddy P, Jialal I. Biochemistry, Fat Soluble Vitamins. [Updated 2020 Sep 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534869/
  • Zhen, S. Taylor, A. Appleton, S. et al. 2018. Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. Nutrients, 10(10), p.1354.
  • Ianiro, G. Pecere, S. Giorgio, V. et al. 2016. Digestive Enzyme Supplementation in Gastrointestinal Diseases. Current Drug Metabolism, 17(2), pp.187-193.
  • Wu, G. 2016. Dietary protein intake and human health. Food & Function, 7(3), pp.1251-1265.
  • Healthline. 2021. When Is the Best Time to Take Protein?. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-time-to-take-protein#section2> [Accessed 2 February 2021].
  • Trommelen, J. and van Loon, L. 2016. Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients, 8(12), p.763.