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Supplements That Should Be Taken With Food

Reviewed and edited by Tod Cooperman, M.D. Tod Cooperman, M.D.
Initial Posting: 7/5/2014    Last Update: 12/13/2018

Question:
Which supplements should be taken with food?

Answer:
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 is vitamin B12 and how much do I need? >>

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? >>

See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Mabel129   August 31, 2014
The instructions on the SAM-e are to NOT take it with food. Not even within an hour of having eaten and preferable in the morning upon waking.

ConsumerLab.com   September 8, 2014
Hi Mabel - Food is not needed for absorption of SAMe, which may be why the label states to take without food; however, in clinical studies, people have been told they may take SAMe with food if it causes stomach upset.

Lida16399   January 31, 2018
It is often impossible to take SAM-e on an empty stomach before a meal. Since I take a PPI that requires it to be taken 30minutes before breakfast, I cannot also take SAM-e as advised. I have reached out to NatureMade to get their opinion on the matter and they were not at all helpful. This is why I continue my membership with Consumer Lab.

ConsumerLab.com   February 2, 2018
Thank your for sharing your experience with this Lida, and we are glad to hear ConsumerLab has been helpful for you!


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This CL Answer initially posted on 7/5/2014. Last updated 12/13/2018.
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