When to Take Vitamin D: Morning or Night?
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Time to read 6 min
Are you getting enough vitamin D? If you don't get plentiful sun throughout the day, it's quite possible you aren't.
There are many people who don't get enough vitamin D naturally. This is known as a vitamin D deficiency, an affliction that a large percentage of Americans face: a recent US-led report published in The British Journal of Nutrition estimates that around 29% of Americans have unhealthily low vitamin D levels.
This is when a daily vitamin D supplement can come in handy, allowing you to improve your vitamin D levels without dramatically changing your lifestyle.
Vitamin D is essential to a variety of bodily functions, meaning a wide variety of people can benefit from taking supplements.
Despite its name, vitamin D is in fact a hormone produced by the skin in response to the sun's rays. Though science is still comprehending its many impacts on the body, some of its known benefits include the following:
As you can see vitamin D plays an important part in maintaining health holistically. This is why it's important to maintain high vitamin D levels, even though doing so can be difficult.
Unlike other vitamins which are found in many foods we eat every day, there are not many food sources of vitamin D. (Fatty fish, fortified milk and dairy products, egg yolks, and olive oil are among the few that are out there.) This is why many people turn to vitamin D supplements, which normally feature additional ingredients to support absorption.
There are several factors that can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Most primarily, it is caused by insufficient sun exposure. Since vitamin D absorption occurs through the skin from sunlight, if we don't get our daily dose of sunshine, our blood levels of vitamin D will lower as well.
However, any of us who have worked long hours or lived through dark winters are aware that we can't always control how much sunlight we get. This is one reason why dietary supplements can be helpful, as they offer an alternative way of consuming vitamin D that won't require major lifestyle changes.
The other lifestyle factors that can contribute to low vitamin D blood levels include the following:
Infrequent consumption of milk
Lastly, studies suggest that those with darker skin pigmentation may also be more prone to vitamin D insufficiency.
Taking on a vitamin D supplement routine can be tremendously beneficial to one's health, especially for those who are not getting sun exposure.
Fortunately, vitamin D is not known to have many side effects, unless it is taken in extremely large quantities. Assuming you're taking the recommended dose of your vitamin D, you're unlikely to experience adverse symptoms.
It is worth noting that vitamin D can be difficult for our bodies to process on its own. This means it is helpful to consume your daily vitamin D supplement with food. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means it is best consumed alongside meals containing healthy fats, which will enhance absorption. Taking vitamin D on an empty stomach, meanwhile, may limit its absorption.
To be absolutely clear, there is no universally agreed-upon best time to take vitamin D, and there is no time of day when it is a bad idea. However, your food intake and lifestyle habits can be an important consideration when addressing your vitamin D needs.
First and foremost, when incorporating supplements into your diet, consistency is key. This means the best time of day to take vitamin D is whenever you are most likely to keep up a regular schedule.
If you feel flexible about when you can implement a vitamin d supplementation schedule, some studies recommend taking vitamin D with your largest meal of the day.
Taking vitamin D in the morning can be a good idea, as this is often the classic time of day for nutritional regimens, alongside your morning coffee. If you take other vitamins, this could be the most convenient choice for you. However, some people don't eat large meals in the beginning of the day; for maximum effectiveness, you may want to wait until later.
If your first large meal of the day is lunch, this could be a great time to take your daily vitamin D supplement. Remember, it's best to take vitamin D with a high fat meal, so think about what your normal lunchtime habits are as you plan your supplement regimen.
Given that most people consume their largest meals in the evening, this could be the best possible time for your vitamin D supplement. However, it can be harder to enforce a regular routine around dinnertime, especially if you're someone who goes out to eat frequently.
Studies suggest that Vitamin D is linked to our circadian rhythms – the internal clocks that regulate our melatonin production, which governs our sleep cycles. This means that a healthy vitamin D supplement regimen can help improve our sleep quality. If you suffer from frequent sleep disturbances, this is yet another reason to consider taking vitamin D.
However, some feel that taking too much vitamin D can actually interfere with one's sleep cycle, in turn leading to poorer sleep quality. This leads some to recommend taking vitamin D earlier in the day.
Since these findings are still being researched, those introducing vitamin D supplements into their diets are best off starting with the option that fits best into their schedule, but are urged to monitor their sleep quality as they begin taking the supplement.
There are a variety of vitamin D products out there that offer the ingredient in different concentrations and forms. It's worth looking into the type of vitamin D featured in your supplement of choice to be sure its benefits target your needs.
The two major forms of vitamin D are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, which are primarily differentiated by their sourcing.
Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) is plant-sourced. It is made by exposing ergosterol found in yeast to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is derived from animal products (namely, sheep lanolin) which is exposed to UV radiation.
Both types are considered effective, with some studies suggesting D3 to leave higher blood levels of vitamin D for longer periods of time. However, if you do not consume animal products, D2 is also considered effective.
It's always a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider before incorporating new supplements into your dietary routine.
Vitamin D supports a host of physical functions including healthy bones, immune function, muscle health, and mental health, among other things. It also enhances the body's ability to absorb calcium, which further contributes to bone health.
Your lifestyle may be able to tell you some things about if you're getting enough vitamin D: if you aren't getting a good amount of sun exposure, not incorporating vitamin D food sources into your diet, or maintaining unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking, you're more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. You may also have symptoms of a vitamin D insufficiency, which include fatigue, muscle weakness, bone pain, and a weakened immune system. These can be signs that your levels of vitamin D are too low.
In short, yes. Numerous studies have found supplements to be effective for those suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D supplements are advised for anyone who has limited time in sunlight daily (whether due to their daily routines or because they live in a location with limited sunshine), as well as anyone experiencing symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, such as fatigue, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Jack Levinson is a writer born and raised in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. When not writing, his interests include the arts, cooking, and exploring the California coast.
Dr. Sanober Doctor is a dual-board certified dermatologist, & a leading expert in Integrative and holistic Dermatology. She is a proactive, compassionate medical practitioner with a thorough understanding of mind-body-spiritual wellness.