Should I Take Dietary Supplements Before Bed? A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about when is the best time to take dietary supplements such as multivitamins and minerals like zinc or magnesium for better absorption and fewer side effects.

Should I Take Dietary Supplements Before Bed? A Comprehensive Guide

Neil Levin, clinical nutritionist at NOW Foods, agrees that the morning is best for taking multivitamins and any B vitamins. Magnesium is best taken at night because it promotes healthy and restful sleep. For people who have leg cramps at night, magnesium may also help alleviate that problem. While some supplements are designed to work synergistically with sleep, others are designed to be assimilated and work during the day.

Even when it comes to vitamin and mineral supplements, such as B vitamins and magnesium, time is a factor that affects the absorption of a nutritional supplement and possible side effects. Zinc has been linked to better sleep when taken before bed. Its function is to support the three NREM phases of sleep that occur before the fourth phase, known as REM sleep. NREM is when muscles repair themselves, so by increasing efficiency during NREM sleep, zinc helps muscles recover more in less time. ZMA, which includes zinc, magnesium, aspartate and vitamin B6, is a muscle recovery formula designed to be taken before bed.

By working synergistically to be assimilated into the body, ZMA provides muscles with the bioavailable nutrients they need to recover from stress. Melatonin doses can range from one to 10 mg, with three milligrams being a good starting point for adults. If you feel more awake and rested the day after taking melatonin before bed, it's a sign that you're most likely underpinning a melatonin deficiency. However, taking supplements at night is not a good practice because digestion and metabolism slow down when you sleep. This means that when you take vitamins at night, they are not absorbed as efficiently as during the day.

Glycine is an amino acid that directly affects the nervous system and can improve sleep. Many experts believe that glycine helps lower body temperature at bedtime, acting as a natural indicator that a person should go to sleep. A study that gave respondents 3 grams of a glycine supplement immediately before bed found that they felt more awake, energetic and lucid the next day, especially in the morning. If taking glycine in pill form isn't appealing, try incorporating nutrient-rich foods such as beans, spinach, cabbage, bananas, or animal products such as meat, eggs, bone broth, or fish. Finally, calcium supplements can interfere with certain medications, including some types of antibiotics, osteoporosis medications, blood pressure medications, antacids, anti-seizure medications, and cholesterol medications. Taking this supplement with a meal may help, and taking a buffered type of vitamin C may also help if you find that your digestive system is affected by it. Valerian root is another natural supplement that is made from the herb valerian that is native to Asia and Europe.

Here's a summary of the best times to take specific vitamins and minerals, the best time to take multivitamins, and the supplements that should be taken along with some calories from fat.

Calcium carbonate

(a less expensive supplement) needs the help of stomach acid to break it down, so it's best taken with food. The fact that a supplement is taken first thing on an empty stomach or later with a large meal can affect the actual absorption of the nutrient. The absorption of vitamin B12 and vitamin D decreases with age, so adults should take supplements of these vitamins.

While all of the supplements mentioned above are of natural origin, side effects and other adverse reactions are possible with long-term use.

Calcium citrate

(a common form of calcium in supplements) can be taken alone or with a meal. There's no evidence that it's best to take vitamin A in the morning or evening, so take your vitamin A supplement when it's most convenient for you. If you're still struggling with insomnia after adjusting the times you take supplements, you can try melatonin for a good night's sleep.

If you are taking a vitamin supplement for any type of vitamin deficiency, you should try to take it at a time when your body can best absorb it. In addition, you should always tell your doctor if you are taking over-the-counter vitamins, minerals or other supplements as they could interact with medications.