How Long Does it Take For Supplements to Work?

How Long Does it Take For Supplements to Work?

It’s fair to say that our health and wellbeing has never been so important. But with hectic schedules and changing lifestyles getting in the way of meeting our daily nutrient requirements, many of us are turning to supplements in order to ensure we’re doing everything we can for our health.

While a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to take on as many nutrients as possible, supplements are a great way to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies. However, it’s important to understand as much as you can about the supplements you’re taking, and how to take them, in order to make sure you reap the rewards.

Does it matter what time I take my supplements?

Just as you can consume nutrients from food at any time during the day, it’s generally the same for the nutrients in supplements. However, there are certain things you can keep in mind if you want to maximise how effectively your body can use the vitamins and minerals that you’re supplementing.

For example, there are two types of vitamins – fat-soluble (such as Vitamins A, D, E and K) and water-soluble (such as B-vitamins and Vitamin C). While water-soluble vitamins are best taken in the morning, fat-soluble vitamins are, unsurprisingly, absorbed best by the body when consumed alongside a source of fat.

Some nutrients are also best taken together – for instance, Vitamin C can help break iron down into a form more easily absorbed by the body[i] and Vitamin D can help you take in more calcium from the foods or supplements that you’re taking[ii].

Consistency is key!

We’re all guilty of wanting a quick fix – like reaching for the multivitamins when feeling under the weather in the hope of making a miraculous recovery. But the truth is, good things take time, and the key to feeling the benefits from your supplements is consistency.

If you are experiencing deficiency of a specific nutrient, it can take several weeks to replenish your bodies stores of this nutrient. The best way to do this is to provide your body with a consistent supply of the nutrient, in order to slowly rebuild the stores within the body. While forgetting to take your supplement every now and then won’t affect this process too much, forgetting on a regular basis will delay your body’s ability to build up an adequate store of the nutrient it’s been missing.

What’s more, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins can’t be stored in the body. This makes it even more important to make sure you’re taking these vitamins in on a regular basis, to ensure your body has them available for all of the important functions that they’re needed for.

Top tips for supplementing successfully

Whilst we may have every intention of taking our supplements on a regular basis, actually remembering to do it is half the battle. But don’t worry, we’ve got you! Follow our top tips to make it easier for supplements to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle:

  1. Make it a habit. It’s true that small habits make a big difference. The more times we make the same choice to do something on a regular basis, the more likely it is to become a habit[iii]. Forming an unconscious habit starts with making a conscious effort – so set an alarm or reminder on your phone at the same time each day to prompt you to take your supplement. Soon you won’t need the reminder and it will simply become a part of your routine.
  2. Keep them where you can see them. Keeping things tidy and having a place for everything is a great way to stay organised - just make sure that the place you keep your supplements is somewhere they won’t be forgotten about. Keeping them somewhere you know you’ll see them, like in your morning coffee mug, next to the toaster or on your desk will not only remind you, but make it easy to just grab one and take it then and there.
  3. Get a cute pillbox. While a pillbox might conjure up the thought of medication rather than supplements, they’re a really good idea if you often find yourself forgetting whether you actually took your supplement or not today. So why not get a nice one that you can leave out somewhere – super organised supplementing!
When will I start feeling the benefits?

If you take on this advice and start taking supplements consistently each day, you should start to feel the benefits after a few weeks. However, it’s important to remember that everybody is unique, and so how quickly you notice a difference will vary depending on how deficient you were to begin with and what specific nutrients you’re supplementing. We advise waiting at least a month (or two) to get a full picture of how your supplements are benefitting you.

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[i] Dosedel, M., Jirkovsky, E., Macakova, K., Krcmova, L.K., Javorska, L., Pourova, J., Mercolini, L., Remiao, F., Novakova, L. and Mladenka, P. (2021) Vitamin C – Sources, Physiological Role, Kinetics, Deficiency, Use, Toxicity and Determination. Nutrients, 13(2) pp. 615.
[ii] Christakos, S., Dhawan, P., Porta, A., Mady, L.J. and Seth, T. (2011) Vitamin D and Intestinal Calcium Absorption. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 347(1-2) pp. 25-29.
[iii] Gardner, B., Lally, P. and Wardle, J. (2012) Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. British Journal of General Practice, 62(605) pp. 664-666.
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