What Type of Vitamins Should You Take?
Before taking vitamin supplements, it’s important to understand the various kinds of vitamins. As always, it is important to check with your health care professional regarding which supplements are right for you.
Vitamins are broken down into two groups: water-soluble (B-complex vitamins and C vitamins), and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).i The difference between these two groups is that fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat before being absorbed into the bloodstreamii, while water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored in the body—they are usually eliminated in the urine.iii Since water-soluble vitamins aren't stored in the body, you may need them more often.
There’s also the question of form: gummy, chewable, or swallowable capsule or tablet? If you have difficulty swallowing pills or simply don’t like doing it, then a chewable or gummy vitamin might be a better option for you. Gummies and chewable typically come in fruity flavors and fun colors that can make taking your daily supplements feel a little more enjoyable.
If you follow a special diet, the type of vitamin you take may also be in question. Some supplements contain animal products, so make sure to read the full ingredient list before putting anything in your cart.
How Do You Take Vitamins?
If you’ve chosen a chewable gummy or tablet, then the answer to this question is simple: chew the supplement as you would food. Water is not required for taking chewable or gummy supplements.
If you’re taking a swallowable supplement, the answer is trickier, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like swallowing tablets and capsules. Research has shown that the easiest way to swallow a pill depends on whether your vitamin is in capsule or tablet form.
Tablets: The Pop Bottle Methodiv
Step 1: Take a plastic soda or water bottle and fill it with drinkable water.
Step 2: Place the vitamin tablet on the center of your tongue and put your lips on the opening of the filled bottle, creating a tight seal.
Step 3: Drink the water from the bottle, making sure to keep your lips firmly sealed around the bottle. When the water enters your mouth, use a sucking motion to swallow the tablet and water.
Capsules: The Lean-Forward Methodv
Step 1: Place the supplement capsule on the center of your tongue.
Step 2: Take a normal sip of water from a glass and hold the water in your mouth—do not swallow yet.
Step 3: Keeping your mouth closed and lips sealed, move your chin downwards towards your chest, so your head is tilted.
Step 4: In this position, swallow the water and capsule together.
Still not convinced? If swallowing a pill is just not for you, and a chewable vitamin is not available, there are a few more tricks you can use to get your vitamins down. If it’s small enough, place the vitamin capsule or tablet in a soft food like pudding, yogurt, or applesauce. The texture of the food may make swallowing the pill easier. If you’re working with a tablet vitamin, you can grind it into a powder and mix it into food. Tablets can also be cut into smaller pieces that are easier to swallow with a pill splitter.vi
However, before you get too excited about splitting or grinding, consult your doctor or pharmacist about whether or not the vitamin you’re taking is suitable to be cut, ground, or emptied. Some pills are timed-release or enteric coated and should not be broken or cut.vii
What is the Best Time to Take Vitamins?
Not only is it important to know how to take vitamins, but knowing when to take them also makes a difference. Many people prefer taking vitamins first thing in the morning, before eating breakfast and getting started with their day. Others may prefer a different time of day. Consider creating a daily schedule that works best with your lifestyle—sometimes remembering to take vitamins daily can be the biggest hurdle.
Vitamins that are water-soluble versus fat-soluble should also be treated differently. A-fat soluble vitamin supplement like vitamin E, for instance, should never be taken on an empty stomach. In order for our digestive systems to absorb vitamin E, there needs to be some fat present.viii This makes vitamin E a great supplement to take with meals, unlike iron, which can interfere with certain foods like cheese, yogurt, eggs, milk, spinach, tea, coffee, or whole-grain breads.ix
Do you typically coordinate taking your vitamins with your workout? Some suggest that the best time to take vitamins is after a workout, not before, as the vitamins may move around in your stomach and trigger gastric acid production, which causes heartburn and acid reflux.x
Find the right vitamin for you using our product recommendation tool. For additional resources, check out the Learn Center with more articles on vitamins & minerals.