There are two schools of thought when it comes to taking supplements:
- Taking them on an empty stomach will help my body absorb them better
- Taking them with food will help my body absorb them better
In reality, it’s not either-or. It’s simple but depends on a few factors such as whether the supplement is water or fat-soluble, and what kind of food you plan to eat if you do take your supplement(s) of choice with food.
Other times it may be a good idea to take a supplement on an empty stomach, or it may best be avoided due to the potential to cause stomach discomfort and nausea. This post briefly covers my thoughts and experience with taking several supplements either with food or without food.
With the exception of one supplement (listed near the end), most minerals may be taken on an empty stomach, but they are also best absorbed with some food.
If you’re taking dry mineral supplements (example: tablets and capsules) you should take them with a little food, preferably something higher in protein and/or fat. Note also that substances found in certain grains 1 and the tannins found in tea, coffee and wine may inhibit their absorption somewhat.
If you’re taking liquid minerals, you can drink them with water. I haven’t had any issues taking them on an empty stomach or with food. Again, tannins and other substances may inhibit their absorption, but not by a lot.
- Verdict: Capsules – Take with Food; Liquid – Doesn’t matter
Herbal supplements, like minerals, can be taken with or without food. The difference being that tannins may not affect absorption of herbs as they would minerals. It also seems that the active components in most herbs are aided when consumed with fats and oils, especially in the case of an herb like turmeric.
- Verdict: Take with food
Phenibut (a powerful anxiety reducer) can be absorbed by the body with or without food. However, food does seem to slow down the onset and strength of its effects.
- Verdict: Take on an empty stomach
- Verdict: Water Soluble? Doesn’t matter.
Fat soluble nootropics like Aniracetam or Pramiracetam should be taken with food, or at least a source of fats or oils. These racetams are fat-soluble and in theory are most easily absorbed in the presence of oils or fats, such as fish oil or whole milk. They will not dissolve into water.
- Verdict: Fat Soluble? Take with Fat or Oil.
Supplements that cause nausea or discomfort on empty stomach
The following supplements are great, but they should only be taken with food because otherwise they cause nausea:
- OptiZinc (zinc mineral supplement)
- “Weight loss” instant green tea powder
- Brewed tea with high tannin content (black tea, oolong, oversteeped green tea)
- Complete B Complex (no nausea, but niacin flush on empty stomach)
I do not know why they cause me to feel sick when taken without food, but they can make me feel absolutely ill for a short while. The nausea does not happen when these are taken after eating a little food.
Fat soluble or herbal? Take with fatty food.
Water soluble? Okay to take on an empty stomach (in most cases).
Also, please leave a comment below if you’ve noticed anything good, bad or weird by taking your supplements with food or on an empty stomach.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – “Factors associated with calcium absorption efficiency in pre- and perimenopausal women”|