Medically reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
6 min read
Are you wondering if there’s an ideal time to take vitamin D? Is there a certain time of day that’s better than another for vitamin D absorption? We’re going to explore this common vitamin deficiency to find out how to get the best results from your supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids the human body in absorbing calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, among many other minerals. The most important members of the vitamin D family for humans are vitamin D2 (also called ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). These two vitamins are processed into metabolites known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D; these metabolites can be measured in the blood to determine if someone has insufficient levels of vitamin D.
If you struggle with vitamin D deficiency, you’re not alone. Many people are deficient. In fact, estimates range from between 40-70% of US adults having some level of vitamin D insufficiency. The Endocrine Society defines vitamin D deficiency as having a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level below 20 ng/mL. An insufficiency (less severe, but still of concern) is categorized as a blood vitamin D level that falls between 21–29 ng/mL. Although many vitamins can be absorbed through the foods we eat, it can be very challenging to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food only.
As vitamin D is mainly produced in the skin through sun exposure, many people find themselves lacking vitamin D during the colder months. It can also be a challenge for people with darker skin tones to get enough sun exposure. This deficiency can cause us to feel sluggish, listless, achey, and possibly even affect your mood. Low levels of vitamin D can also have a negative impact on bone health, sleep quality, and our immune function. Lack of sunshine due to lifestyle, skin pigmentation, or environment may be some of the biggest contributors to vitamin D deficiencies, but other factors include age, premature birth, and conditions that may lead to malabsorption.
Vitamin D is vital to our health and wellness. Vitamin D receptors are found throughout the human body, leading scientists to believe that almost every part of us may rely on vitamin D. Vitamin D has been found to be a major promoter of bone health and muscle strength. Moreover, since vitamin D receptors are found in different areas of the brain, vitamin D may also support cognitive health. If that’s the case, then a vitamin D deficiency may also affect how we feel.
If your environment or lifestyle has you out of the sun for much of the time, you may want to consider vitamin D supplements. Getting enough vitamin D is made trickier by the fact that vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, isn’t found in very many food sources. Taking a gentle supplement, like Care/of’s Vitamin D Supplement, which is made with acacia to support absorption, can go a long way. The Vegan Sunny D3 formula is made from food-grade sustainably-sourced algae. Both are tested for impurities and encapsulated in the US.
Vitamin D is not always easily absorbed by the body. That’s why researchers suggest taking it with the largest meal of your day, which has been shown to make it easier for your body to absorb the vitamin. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, taking a supplement alongside something with a high amount of healthy fats, like fatty fish, avocado, or cheese, can help your body absorb vitamin D properly.
You can take vitamin D at any time of day. There is no time that’s considered “better” than others. The key is to find a time that works for you – and then be consistent. Consistency is the best way to ensure that you don’t find yourself with a vitamin D deficiency. If you’re looking to take vitamin D with the largest meal of the day, breakfast or dinner times may be good options.
If you are already in the habit of taking your vitamins in the morning, then you can easily add a vitamin D supplement to your routine. Whether you go for a supplement that’s only vitamin D or a multivitamin that contains an appropriate amount of vitamin D, taking it in the morning is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough.
Vitamin D is non-drowsy, but it won’t keep you awake, either. However, one study has suggested that taking an adequate amount of vitamin D can help you sleep better at night. The study suggests that vitamin D can help you stay asleep longer, fall asleep more quickly, and feel like you had a better night’s sleep overall.
Rather than thinking about taking vitamin D in terms of a specific time, consider how you can build a habit. Make your vitamins a part of an activity you already do daily, such as having breakfast or making a cup of tea. Place your vitamins in an area where you will see them and where you can easily access them. Making your vitamin routine easier to remember will keep you on track. Remember: Consistency is the key.
There is no evidence that taking vitamin D alongside other vitamins can cause any adverse effects or hinder absorption. Vitamin D is naturally non-drowsy (although, as mentioned above, it may help support healthy sleep). Take it whenever you feel like it will be easiest and most convenient. Additionally, if taking a single multivitamin is easiest for you, look for one high in vitamin D to get the extra boost you need.
Consult with your physician before starting a new vitamin routine, especially if you have a history of kidney problems or other preexisting conditions. Vitamin D toxicity can cause a buildup of calcium in the bloodstream, but you would have to take a significant amount for an extended period of time to cause this: You would need to take 60,000 international units per day, which is 100 times the minimum amount recommended by physicians. Care/of’s vitamin D supplements contain 1000 IU, which is a perfectly safe amount. The tolerable upper limit for vitamin D is 4,000 IU or 100 mcg. If levels need to be increased be sure to work with a healthcare provider who can measure your vitamin D levels and monitor your dosage. Be sure to account for any other vitamin D supplements you may be taking at the same time, and speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.