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Which Vitamins Do I Take With or Without Food?

Read time: 2 minutes

There’s nothing worse than an upset stomach or pain when you’re trying to get through your day, and unfortunately, there are some vitamins that cause these less than desirable symptoms if not taken properly.

Often what happens is people go to the store, pick up a bottle of supplements and then pop it with some water, thinking they are good to go about their day.

But hold up! How you take your supplement matters. Some vitamins need food to absorb and digest properly. If you take certain vitamins on an empty stomach, an excess of acid can build up and then cause pain and nausea.

Here are the vitamins you should pair with food. Next time, make sure to grab a snack before you take them!

Iron, Magnesium, and Fish Oil

The big three that are the most likely to cause aches and pains, and more. They often will cause nausea if you don’t take them with a meal or snack.

Magnesium is known for its laxative effect, while fish oil contains omega-3s and 6s which frequently can cause diarrhea or stomach pain without food.

Iron is actually best taken on an empty stomach, however, iron also causes a lot of stomach issues for many people. Take iron supplements with a small amount of food, like a light snack, if you are having issues. Just make sure you don’t take iron with dairy or other calcium-rich foods that can impair iron absorption.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K

These vitamins are known as fat-soluble, meaning that they need a small amount of healthy fat to cling onto in your stomach so that they digest well. Take these, alone or in a multivitamin, in the morning or early afternoon with some food containing good fats.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is highly acidic on its own, so mixing this with your stomach acid can cause upset, nausea, and pain. Without food, it can leave behind excess acid, so make sure to eat enough.


As a multivitamin usually contains a number of different vitamins and minerals, it’s safe to say you should always take these with a meal or at least a good-sized snack to kickstart absorption. Healthy fats and carbs are the two best things to add to your supplement routine.


  • Take your multivitamin in the morning with something that includes healthy fats, like avocado toast or peanut butter, as many vitamins are fat soluble and need those fats from foods to digest and absorb properly.
  • Take a dissolvable vitamin that is easy on the stomach and doesn’t contain harmful additives or chemicals that might make it harder for you to digest.
  • Most vitamins should be taken early in the day, as night time slows digestion down and can cause your supplements to be less effective.
  • Still having stomach issues after trying these ideas? Check in with your doctor to make sure something else isn’t going on with your digestive system.


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Written by Annie-Eliza Stevens