As explained in our Reviews of each, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and are better-absorbed when taken with a meal that contains fat. The same is true of CoQ10, curcumin (from turmeric), CBD, and even fish oil. If you must take these without a meal, there are special formulations of CoQ10 and curcumin that can improve their absorption by making them more water-soluble.
The key compound in Boswellia serrata extracts (sold as a single-ingredient supplement or in combination with ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin in supplements for joint health) is also fat-soluble and absorption may be enhanced by taking with fatty foods.
Certain other supplements are best taken with food because it can help to reduce potential side effects. For example, taking magnesium with food can reduce the occurrence of diarrhea and taking vitamin C, iron or SAMe with food can reduce the chance of stomach upset, although food is not needed for their absorption. (There are vitamin C formulations and iron formulations that may be less likely to cause stomach upset).
Although protein supplements do not have to be taken with food, consuming protein drinks with a meal (rather than between meals) after resistance exercise may help to increase muscle and reduce fat.
Preliminary evidence suggests that taking green tea extract with a meal may reduce the chance of potential liver toxicity.
To find out whether a specific supplement is best taken with food, see the What to Consider When Using section in each product review >>
Learn More About How to Take Supplements:
What's the best way to take vitamin B12? >>
Is it true that fish oil is better absorbed when taken with a fatty meal? >>
Which vitamins and minerals should be taken together or separately? >>
When taking a water-soluble version of CoQ10, do I still need to take it with food? >>
Is it best to take probiotic supplements with or without food? It seems like everyone has a different recommendation. >>
Must I take amino acid supplements on an empty stomach? Can I take them with other amino acids or with food to help with swallowing capsules? >>
What is the best way to take melatonin to get a good night's sleep? >>
What is the best way to take curcumin? Is it better to take it all at once or in divided doses? >>