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How Long Does It Take for Multivitamins to Start Working?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: July 20, 2021

A third of Americans take some sort of multivitamin, and each of them wants to have beneficial effects as soon as possible. But it's not that easy.

In my research, I've found that how long a multivitamin will take before you feel effects depends on several factors, and today I am going to talk about each of them.

How Long Does It Take for Multivitamins to Work?

Pouring a multivitamin on hand

How long it takes a multivitamin to work depends on the multivitamin you’re taking.

For example, if you’re taking vitamins and minerals, it can take a few days for them to kick in. The same goes for iodine.

But, if you’re dehydrated, then an electrolyte will work in minutes.

If you’re taking iron for red blood cells, you’ll need to wait two weeks before your well-being is restored.

On the other hand, if you have bone density issues and you need a calcium supplement, you’ll have to wait about six weeks for calcium to repair bone health.

It can take a couple of hours to a couple of weeks — it all depends on how deficient your body is.

The question of how long it will take a multivitamin to work and for you to notice improvements depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your general health conditions
  • Your nutrient profile
  • Your health goals

In most cases, it takes about 3 to 6 weeks to see some changes when taking multivitamins, but this depends on several factors.

Related: How to Know If Your Multivitamin is Working?

5 Factors Affecting The Effects Of Vitamins

Taking a multivitamin

1. Deficiency Levels

How deficient you are is the most important factor on which it depends how long before a vitamin kicks in.

If you have a severe deficiency, vitamins and minerals will need more time to fulfill the body’s needs and achieve a normal function.

‘If you are taking them because you have been diagnosed as deficient in a specific vitamin or mineral that is causing a side effect like tiredness, it can take much longer to build back up to optimal levels than if you are just taking them on a precautionary basis.’ -Dr Luke Pratsides, Lead GP, Numan Clinic

Even if you’re having a balanced diet and making sure you’re covered on all vitamins, a deficiency can happen because of factors such as stress, IBS, state of the digestive system, even the soil of your country.

Note: Don’t take a higher dose of vitamin supplement before you consult with the doctor who knows your personal data first.

2. Supplement Form

Supplements outside its container

Not every vitamin has the same dosage, quality, nor ingredients.

All of these affect how effective any one supplement will be.

How effective the vitamin will also depend on the form of the supplement, whether it’s liquid, capsule, tablet, powder, or granules.

Generally, here’s how they work:

  • Liquid multivitamins are more quickly effective compared to a capsule.
  • Liquid and powder supplements have drawbacks if they contain both vitamins and minerals. These two can block each other, and there’s no way to separate them but to take two supplements instead of one.
  • Granulated supplements make it possible for other nutrients and minerals to be used together.
  • Capsules and tablets have limited doses, so they may not be able to provide the maximum benefits to the body.

3. Water-Soluble vs Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are B vitamins and vitamin C. They dissolve in the water and are easily absorbed in the tissue. (1)

These vitamins can’t be stored in the body. Instead, the body absorbs them in 3 to 6 hours after eating, and they’re used every day.

On the other hand, there are fat-soluble vitamins. These are vitamins such as Vitamin D, K, E, and A (beta carotene). Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrients deficient. (2)

These vitamins need fat to go through the intestinal tract. They’re stored in the liver and fatty tissue, from where they’re used.

Unlike water-soluble, fat-soluble vitamins don’t leave the body but are stored in it.

But, when it comes to which ones will have a faster effect, it’s water-soluble ones because they dissolve and are more easily absorbed.

4. Lifestyle and Health Issues

Healthy food and exercise tools

Your lifestyle and habits also affect multivitamins and absorption of other vitamins.

Stress and alcohol reduce digestive enzymes, which are needed to absorb the nutrients.

In this case, you’ll need a higher supplement dosage to maintain balance.

Generally speaking, caffeine also affects nutrient absorption and energy production.

Therefore, you should take a specific nutrient on an empty stomach and drink caffeine half an hour before taking a supplement.

Another thing that impedes the absorption of certain nutrients is health problems, such as: 

  • Gut disease, such as stomach upset and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

Also, health issues can lead to poor skin, difficulty breathing, immune system deficiency.

How Long Will It Take For Your Multivitamin to Work?

I've covered all of the most common factors that affect the speed with which multivitamins work.

It boils down to this: the human body is complex, and different supplements absorb and affect your own health differently.

Therefore, you should always make healthy food choices and take supplements that are good for the whole.

Be careful with high doses, as this can lead to hair loss, low blood levels, and toxic levels of many nutrients.

I'd love to hear what your experience has been with using multivitamins and how much time before you noticed effects. Let me know in the comments below.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218756/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30335299/#

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