That’s why experts suggest taking a vitamin D supplement in the morning
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From supporting strong bones to helping with your mood and fighting inflammation, vitamin D has many potential benefits. The vitamin is also important for reducing the risk of certain health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, says Jessica Cording, RD, author of The Little Book of Revolutionaries. But while it’s recommended that most adults get 600 IU of vitamin D a day, many Americans don’t get enough.
Here’s why it might be: Vitamin D is made by your body when UV rays hit your skin, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So, if you live somewhere that isn’t particularly sunny, or you just keep protecting yourself from the sun (nice!), you could faint. And while *there are* food sources of the sunshine vitamin (including cod liver oil, trout, salmon, and mushrooms), most of them aren’t staples in the typical American diet.
Enter: supplements. Now, your decision to take any vitamin is a personal one and you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. But if you plan to add vitamin D to your routine, experts say there are a few factors that can affect how your body absorbs it, like timing and whether or not you get it with food. We asked three nutritionists to break it down for us.
Meet the experts: Jessica Cording, RD, is the author of The Little Book of Revolutionaries. Keri Gans, RD, is the author of The diet of small changes. Sonya Angelone, RD, is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
When to consider a vitamin D supplement
Since food options are somewhat limited with vitamin D, a person who rarely gets direct sun on their body might want to consider [a supplement]says Keri Gans, RD, author of The diet of small changes. People following a vegan or vegetarian diet may also want to take a vitamin D supplement, she says, simply because many of the existing food sources are animal-based.
If you’re considering a vitamin D supplement, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a blood test to make sure your levels are indeed low, says Sonya Angelone, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s also important to check your blood vitamin D level before supplementing so you know how much to take, she adds.
Can you take vitamin D on an empty stomach?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means absorption will be enhanced by consuming it with something that contains fat, explains Cording.
This is important so it can travel in blood, which is water-based, Angelone says.
While you might get vitamin D with, say, a scoop of peanut butter or something else that contains fat, it’s usually just easier and better to get it with a meal, says Angelone. Taking this vitamin with a meal ensures better absorption since it most likely contains more fat than snacks, she says. Research studies have consistently shown that vitamin D increases blood levels best when taken with a fat-containing meal.
When is the best time to take vitamin D?
There is no magic moment when everyone should be taking vitamin D. It is worth pointing out that there is some data to suggest that taking vitamin D later in the day can interfere with sleep, but the studies done so far are rather specific and inconclusive. At the same time, some research has shown that a lack of vitamin D increases the risk of sleep disorders, so there’s still a lot to explore here.
Limited evidence suggests it may affect melatonin production, Angelone says. I have not seen it to be a problem when taken before bed, however, I usually do not recommend taking supplements before bed as it is important to take supplements with a full glass of water.
In general, experts tend to recommend taking vitamin D in the morning, ideally with breakfast or the first meal of the day. For many people, it’s convenient to take Vitamin Dor any vitamin in the morning, Cording says. It can become part of your daily brewing ritual. If you happen to eat your first meal of the day at work, she suggests keeping your vitamin D at your office. If it’s at home, keep the supplement in the kitchen.
I’ve seen it work well for people to keep vitamin D on hand, Cording says.
The bottom line? Talk to your doctor if you are unsure whether you should supplement with vitamin D. If you decide to take it, do it in the morning if possible.
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