Vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal health, and many Americans take supplements to reduce their chances of catching a cold or the flu, and to help them function in a chaotic world. Taking vitamins such as C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and most other B vitamins with a glass of water is the best way to consume them, since water-soluble vitamins dissolve in liquid, allowing the body to absorb and use them. Multivitamin supplements usually contain essential minerals, such as iron, that should not be taken with certain foods and drinks. The most beneficial source of vitamins and minerals is a balanced meal that contains a quarter of fruits, a quarter of vegetables, a quarter of protein, such as fish and poultry, and the other quarter of cereals.
Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored in the body (liver) and water doesn't affect their absorption. Women who lose a lot of iron due to heavy menstrual bleeding may need an additional iron supplement, while those who are going through menopause may need more calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin B12 is best absorbed with food, while vitamin C can block its use. It's best to take it in the morning so it doesn't affect sleep.
Prenatal vitamins should be taken before pregnancy when you're planning to conceive. Many vitamins and minerals, as well as herbal supplements, have side effects that range from rash to stomach discomfort. The body absorbs some of its vitamins better with food, so it's recommended to take them with a meal or snack. It's important to share with your doctor and pharmacist a list of the supplements you are currently taking to help avoid negative interactions. Iron is better absorbed when taken with water or citrus juice on an empty stomach because vitamin C improves its absorption, while calcium blocks it.