This Is the Best Time of Day to Take Vitamin C

Vitamin C can do a lot of good for your body, but not if it leaves you nauseated or you forget to take it every day. Here's the best time to take your C.

Orange round orange shaped tablets are scattered chaotically on black background with copyspaceirishe4kaaa/ShutterstockVitamin C is an antioxidant powerhouse that may help shorten the duration of common colds and improve healing after surgery and that’s not all—checkout 13 more potential health benefits of vitamin C. But to get the most from your supplements, you have to take C at the right time of day.

Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. This means it is easily absorbed into body tissue. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins can’t be stored by your body, so you need to replenish vitamin C regularly by eating C-rich foods or by taking supplements. Excess C and other water-soluble vitamins are cleared from your blood by your kidneys and excreted in your urine.

The National Institutes of Health experts recommend that men get 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day; women should aim for 75 milligrams. If you smoke, add 35 mg to those values. Smoking can deplete vitamin C; these are the signs you may be deficient in vitamin C.

So what’s the best time of day to take your vitamin C supplements? That’s simple, says Robert Zembroski, DC, MS, a functional medicine specialist in Darien, CT, and the author of several books including Rebuild: Five Proven Steps to Move from Diagnosis to Recovery and Be Healthier Than Before: Aim to take it at the same time every day, he says—but take it after a meal. Vitamin C is highly acidic so it may cause nausea when taken on an empty stomach. Some experts suggest pairing it with a meal to stave off nausea.

Another option is to split up your doses, says Zembroski: This can improve absorption, reduce the chance that it will make you nauseated, and it can help keep your blood levels high all day as you won’t be excreting as much of it in urine. Scheduling your dose after the same meal (or meals) each day will help you remember to take it, he says.

If you are thinking about taking C supplements, Zembroski suggests a powdered form of vitamin C called NutraMetrix Isotonix® Vitamin C or Ultra Potent-C. Before you take the first dose, read up on ways to make vitamins more effective.

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Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer in New York. Her articles regularly appear in WebMD, Healthday.com, Beautyinthebag.com and other consumer health portals.