Nutrition | Supplements

Supplements and Vitamin Absorption: How Long It Takes To Feel Effects & Why

How long does it take for supplements or vitamins to start working? You can start to see the benefits of taking some supplements after 2-6 weeks, or in other cases, it may take up to 90 days for the supplements to kick in. This depends on 6 factors, with the severity of the deficiency being the top factor.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to feel the effects of vitamins or supplements you swallow? Is it worth taking a ton of Vitamin C when you ‘feel a cold coming on’?

It turns out, the length of time it takes for your body to absorb vitamins & minerals and really feel the effects of a supplement depends on 6 factors. 

  1. The severity of your deficiency

  2. The supplement quality

  3. The supplement dosage

  4. Other dependent nutrients also lacking, which restricts absorption or your body’s ability to use it.

  5. Your diet and food choices. Remember, supplement means ‘in addition to’, not ‘in place of’.

  6. What’s causing the deficiency.

Depending on 6 factors, supplements take 2-12 weeks to ‘kick in’.

The 3 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies

The three most common nutrients deficient in the U.S. diet are vitamin B-6, vitamin D, and iron, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vitamin D is important for bone health, while both vitamin B-6 and iron help create red blood cells.

If you are Vitamin B-6 and Iron deficient, chances are after a month’s time (4 weeks) you’ll notice improvements from taking Vitamin B-6 and Iron in the form of increased energy and concentration.

Different Kinds of Vitamins: Fat vs. Water Soluble

The type of supplement you’re taking can determine how long it takes to feel an effect. For example, If you’re taking a vitamin supplement, it will depend on whether the vitamin is fat soluble or water soluble.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. These vitamins dissolve in fat and are stored within the tissues of the body. Because they are stored in the body, levels can continue to increase as you take in more of the vitamin, but this also means that it will take more time for you to feel their effect.

For example, many of us are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter months when we don’t make as much of it by being exposed to sunlight. Those of us who are deficient and start on a vitamin D supplement usually takes five to six weeks to reach the recommended level of vitamin D.

Water Soluble Vitamins

The B vitamins and vitamin C are all water soluble. This means that they dissolve in water and are not stored in the body, so it’s important to take these vitamins daily to replenish them. Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed more rapidly, so you’ll feel an effect from them more quickly than fat-soluble supplements.

An example is the B vitamins. Being deficient in a B vitamin can result in tiredness and lethargy. After you start taking a vitamin B complex supplement, you may notice heightened energy in just 2 to 4 weeks.

Your mineral or vitamin levels to start with

Your level of the vitamin or mineral before you start taking a supplement as mentioned before is very important. If you’re really deficient in a certain vitamin, and you start taking a supplement, you may feel an effect more quickly.

If your intake was not as low to start out but not quite where it should be, chances are it will take longer to notice the effects of the supplement. Your symptoms should gradually improve, but you won’t feel a big difference right away.

Supplements interacting with each other

Vitamins and minerals have complex roles in our bodies, and there are countless interactions that determine how they function.

For example, vitamin D and calcium work together to build strong teeth and bones. If you start taking a calcium supplement, it’ll be more effective if you also have adequate vitamin D levels – either through your diet or through supplements.

Taking Vitamin C When You Feel Sick

Regularly taking adequate amounts of vitamin C can help reduce the frequency of catching colds. Unfortunately, most experts agree that supplementing with Vitamin C once you already feel sick is not effective.

Vitamins Aren’t Proven To Make You Healthier, But Food Choices Are

Ideally, we should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need by making smart nutritional choices. Unfortunately, all of us in the U.S. don’t eat as well as they should, according to a 2014 article published in the Nutrition Journal, and therefore there’s a good chance we may not be getting all the nutrients we need.

If you’re in doubt about your nutrition and what deficiencies you may have, it’s always best to make a point of talking about it with your general practitioner.

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