Taking vitamins is an excellent way to boost your nutrient levels and support optimal health. But how long do they take to work?
In short, vitamins are absorbed by the body within minutes to hours, depending on whether you take liquid supplements, IV infusions, or tablet forms. If you are taking vitamins for a deficiency, it may take longer to replenish your levels.1
In this article, we will delve into the world of vitamins, exploring their benefits, the different types available, and the factors that influence their absorption and effectiveness.
Benefits of Taking Vitamins
Vitamins are essential nutrients our bodies require in small amounts to function properly. While most of these vital nutrients are obtained through our diet, sometimes extra supplementation becomes necessary.
Multivitamins, for example, are designed to fill nutritional gaps and come in various brands and formulations, each specifying the daily value (DV) or recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of nutrients in one serving.1
If a label reads 100% DV of vitamin D, it means you're getting your daily requirement based on a 2,000-calorie diet, so adjustments may be needed depending on your calorie intake.
There are many benefits to taking vitamins, including improved energy levels, mood enhancement, reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced short-term memory, lower inflammation, increased muscle strength, and overall better health.
Athletes often turn to vitamins for post-training recovery,2 while daily multivitamins can boost brain function, positively impacting memory, mood, and emotional well-being.7
Vitamins VS Multivitamins
When it comes to choosing vitamins, there are various options available. Multivitamins cover a broad spectrum of essential nutrients such as vitamins D, K, C, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, making them an ideal daily supplement.
On the other hand, specific or singular supplements like omega-3s or vitamin D are used to address particular health conditions. For example, vitamin D is a popular choice for treating deficiencies and autoimmune diseases.3
How Long Does It Take for Vitamins to Work?
The duration for vitamins to take effect depends on several factors, including:
Deficiency Levels: If you're deficient in vitamins, it generally takes longer to replenish your levels. Consistent supplementation for approximately 1 to 3 months is typically needed to correct a deficiency.9
Type of Supplement: Different supplement forms affect absorption rates. Liquid vitamins dissolve more rapidly, offering higher potency compared to tablets. Liquid vitamins, containing liposomes, promote bio-absorption. Some pill vitamins also include beneficial ingredients that aid absorption.6
Water vs. Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed more quickly than fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in the body. Consuming fat with fat-soluble vitamins enhances absorption.11 There are only four fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.
Nutrient Pairings: Some vitamins are absorbed better when paired with others. For instance, black pepper is often combined with turmeric supplements, while vitamin C enhances the absorption of plant-based iron. Vitamins like D and calcium also have synergistic effects.5
Lifestyle & Habits: Consistency in supplement intake and physical activity levels influence absorption. Taking supplements in the morning and maintaining a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fibre, and lean protein, along with regular exercise, can boost nutrient absorption.
Health Issues: Certain health conditions, like celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, Crohn's disease, and cystic fibrosis, can hinder vitamin absorption. Age also plays a role, with the elderly sometimes requiring higher dosages due to reduced absorption capabilities.8
It is essential to consult with your GP before embarking on any supplementation regimen to ensure your specific needs are met.
How Do I Know When Vitamins Are Working?
Recognising when vitamins are taking effect can be based on your physical sensations, such as increased energy, improved sleep, and fewer symptoms.
A more precise method is through blood tests conducted by a medical professional or your GP, which assess the levels of vitamins and minerals in your body.
Signs of nutritional deficiencies to watch for include brittle hair and nails, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, bleeding gums, impaired eyesight, or discoloured skin. If you experience these symptoms, consult a medical professional for nutritional testing or a blood test.
In conclusion, both vitamins and multivitamins are valuable additions to a healthy lifestyle, particularly in addressing nutrient deficiencies, achieving health goals, and managing pre-existing health conditions.
However, a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fish, whole grains, beans, pulses, prebiotics, and probiotics, remains fundamental to meeting your nutritional needs and supporting overall well-being.