When Is the Best Time to Take Prenatal Vitamins?

When is the best time to take prenatal vitamins? The answer is not necessarily universal; however, following a few simple guidelines can help.

By: Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

Medically Reviewed By: Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN

Publication Date: December 8th, 2023

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

When you’re trying to conceive or when you’ve already found out you’re pregnant, you may have questions about prenatal vitamins and nutrition. This is especially true if you’re feeling nauseous and find that eating regular meals is a challenge. For instance, you may be wondering what time of day to take your prenatal vitamin.

Read on to learn about the best time to take prenatal vitamins and whether timing affects the absorption and tolerance of critical pregnancy nutrients.

Does It Matter When I Take My Prenatal Vitamin?

Pregnancy is a unique and highly variable time for many women. Some women may be plagued by nausea and vomiting during the first trimester, while morning sickness barely registers for others. These symptoms can manifest differently for each pregnancy in the same woman and affect how well a prenatal vitamin is absorbed. (1)

The time of day can make a difference in the tolerance of a prenatal for some women, especially if nausea and vomiting symptoms are more pronounced at certain hours. If your pregnancy is marked by vomiting at predictable points during the day, try to take your prenatal vitamin outside of this window to increase the chances of nutrient absorption and tolerance. For example, plan to take your prenatal at night if mornings are challenging for you.

If you feel like your prenatal vitamin makes you feel nauseous, take it at a time of day when you can have a meal with it. Many prenatal vitamin manufacturers recommend taking their vitamins with food to enhance tolerance. Make sure to check the directions listed on your bottle of prenatal vitamins for clarity.

Tips for the Best Timing of Your Prenatal

When deciding which time is the best time to take your prenatal vitamin, think about the following points:

  • What time of day are you most likely to remember your vitamin? For example, you might be most likely to remember it first thing in the morning while getting dressed and ready for the day. If you’re in the habit of taking medicine or vitamins midday or in the evening, take your prenatal then. Make sure to keep your vitamin in a visible spot so you have an easy cue that reminds you to take it each day.

  • If you’re experiencing morning sickness, consider this when it comes to your prenatal vitamin. You’ll want to take the vitamin at a time of day when you’re the least likely to feel nauseous. You may also want to take it with a small meal, so factor this into your timing and meal schedules.

  • If you’re having a hard time taking your prenatal vitamin because the vitamin itself makes you feel nauseous, try taking it at a time of day when you can pair it with a small snack or water to help reduce your symptoms. Experts also recommend chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy after taking your prenatal or even taking half the vitamin at one time of day and half at another time to make it more tolerable. (2)

The Bottom Line

The best advice for the timing of prenatal vitamins is to take them when you’re most likely to remember and when you’re most likely to keep them down. This may look different for every expectant woman, and it may even differ between pregnancies in the same mother.

If you’re looking for advice on choosing the right prenatal vitamin for you, consider taking a nutrigenetic test first. Your body is unique, and all the way down to your DNA, your genetics can change how you metabolize the vitamins and nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy. 

At Genate, we specialize in supporting expecting moms with genetic nutrition counseling provided by our team of experienced registered dietitians.  To learn more about supporting your baby’s nutrition during pregnancy, check out the Precision-Nutrition Package from SNP Therapeutics.

This article is not intended as medical advice to treat or diagnose any health condition, but rather as educational health information for the general public. It should not be used as a substitute for individualized medical care from your healthcare provider. 

FAQs

Can taking prenatal vitamins at different times affect their effectiveness? 

No, taking prenatal vitamins at different times doesn't significantly impact their effectiveness, but consistency matters. Whether taken in the morning or at night, the key is regular intake to ensure consistent nutrient levels. 

Is it okay to take prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach?

Yes, but taking prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach can sometimes lead to nausea or stomach discomfort, so it's typically advised to take them with food to aid absorption and reduce potential side effects.

Should I split my prenatal vitamin dose throughout the day?

If your prenatal vitamin dose includes more than one pill, it’s a good idea to split the dose into two servings spread at least four hours apart. This way you’re giving your body a smaller amount of nutrients at each serving, which can help with absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals. 

About the Author

Libby Pellegrini, MMS, PA-C, is a professionally trained journalist and physician assistant. She has worked in numerous healthcare settings, including the rural United States, an inner-city Level I trauma center, and several suburban acute care centers. It was during her time at a functional medicine clinic in Southeast Asia that she developed an interest in the role of SNPs in personalized genetic evaluation and discovered how gene-guided nutritional counseling can enhance individual health outcomes.


Libby graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and her medical writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including WebMD, RxSaver, KevinMD, NPHIC, and Men’s Health.


Website: https://libbypellegrini.com/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/libby-pellegrini-pa-c/

Sources

  1. Morning sickness. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/morning-sickness/symptoms-causes/syc-20375254 Published September 28, 2022. Accessed October 15, 2022.

  2. Prenatal vitamins. Minnesota Department of Health. https://www.health.state.mn.us/docs/people/wic/nutrition/english/pgprenatalvits.pdf. Updated July 24, 2018. Accessed September 20, 2023.

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