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Can You Combine Multivitamins With Probiotics?
What to Know

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 27, 2021

More than 1000 bacteria species live in your gut. Shocking, I know, but there's no reason to get alarmed.

These bacteria species make up the gut microbiome, which affects both gut and your overall health.

Probiotics can help you have better gut health. But can they be combined with vitamins and other supplements?

I consulted with a doctor friend and researched on my own to bring you the answer to these questions.

Can You Combine a Probiotic and a Vitamin?

Pouring probiotic pills on hand

The short answer is yes. You can combine a probiotic and a vitamin.

The general rule is that taking probiotics won’t make supplements you’re taking any less effective. Taking a probiotic with vitamins can make the probiotic more and not less effective.

"There is some evidence that when probiotics are consumed with omega-3 fatty acids, it may actually improve the delivery of the probiotic." -Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI 

A probiotic will help you have an optimal amount of gut flora and better gut health.

This, in turn, can make the vitamins more absorbable, and it leads to positive health effects, such as:

  • Fatty chains breakdown
  • Better vitamin absorption
  • Proper metabolic functions

A 12 week-long research was done on 60 women with Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who took Vitamin D and a probiotic.

The study concluded that Vitamin D and probiotic supplementation was beneficial.

This combination leads to a more healthy lifestyle, healthy immune system, and:

  • Reduced depression, stress, and anxiety
  • Improved hirsutism and total testosterone concentrations
  • Beneficial impact on inflammation and oxidative damage [1]

While it can be beneficial to combine probiotics and vitamins, there’s still reason for caution.

There’s a risk of infection in people who have a sensitive digestive tract and weak immune system.

More caution should also be considered for people who have critical illness or recently had any type of surgery.

The Role Of Vitamins

Close up image of vitamins

Vitamins help our bodies get essential nutrients the body can’t make on its own.

We should get all the essential vitamins through food, but people who suffer from health problems, or have a deficient diet, need vitamin supplements.

The body needs 13 kinds of vitamins to function correctly, and they’re divided into two categories:

  • Water-soluble vitamins — Aren’t stored in the body, but the excess leaves the body through urine. Examples of water-soluble vitamins include Vitamins C and B.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins— The body absorbs them more easily and can store them for extended periods. Examples include Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Note: Be careful with how many fat-soluble vitamins you consume, as they can become toxic.

The best way to determine what vitamins you need is through a blood test.

Health Benefits Of Vitamins

Vitamins spilled on a wooden platform

If you exercise regularly and have a healthy diet, chances are you won’t need any other medications.

But, certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or diarrhea, can trigger a deficiency.

In these cases, individual nutrients are used, usually in doses larger than a typical multivitamin.

Vitamins can be used to treat conditions such as iron deficiency or hypertension.

Here are some common vitamins that one may need depending on the body’s requirement:

  • Vitamin B3 — Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL), i.e., the good cholesterol.
  • Vitamins C and E — Called antioxidants, help patients tolerate the effects of chemo.
  • Folic acid — Reduces the risk of a baby born with a birth defect.

Note: Always use the prescribed dose, as overuse of supplements can cause toxicities.

Vitamin Risks

The FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as strictly as pharmaceutical drugs.

In fact, the FDA doesn’t even determine which ones are safe to use before they’re shipped to stores.

But, the FDA does have a list of harmful products and problems they can cause, such as:

  • Vitamin A — when used with retinoid acne medications causes toxicity. (2)
  • Vitamin E — increase blood thinners which leads to nosebleeds and bruising
  • Vitamin K — reduces the effectiveness of blood thinners
  • Vitamin B6 — When used for a long time, such as a year, can cause nerve damage
  • Vitamin C — Endangers the digestive system and causes diarrhea

When to Take a Vitamin

Vitamins organized on a divided holder/box

When you should take vitamins depends on the kind of vitamin you’re taking.

For example, multivitamins should be taken when you wake up in the morning and can be paired with a pre-breakfast probiotic supplement.

On the other hand, mineral supplements, and fat-soluble vitamins, should be taken with food to avoid an upset stomach.

A good rule is to consult with your healthcare provider. Follow their advice for a balanced diet, and check the expiration date of your supplements.

The Role of Probiotics

Visual presentation of a probiotic bacteria and a woman holding a yogurt bottle

Just like vitamins, a probiotic supports our general health. But, they differ from vitamins in that they’re living organisms that reach the large intestines and colonize them with good bacteria.

They function as healthy bacteria in the gut. Moreover, probiotic supplements can help improve gut health and get rid of bad bacteria.

Processed foods and stress can all endanger the good bacteria in your gut. However, you can get the necessary amount of a probiotic for beneficial bacteria through a balanced diet and food.

Health Benefits of Probiotic Supplements

Unlike vitamins, a probiotic isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream but stays in the intestines, where it encourages the growth of good bacteria and gets rid of bad bacteria. This helps with immune function.

Two health conditions that a probiotic supplement can help with are:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff)

Giving probiotics can also help with antibiotic-associated diarrhea by developing beneficial bacteria in your gut, which fights the bad bacteria, and helps your upset stomach calm down.

Probiotic Risks

A woman eating a yogurt

Same with vitamins, probiotic supplements aren’t sufficiently regulated by the FDA, especially the manufacturing process.

As a result, we don’t know the quality of probiotic capsules available at pharmacies and health food stores.

Another concern is that a person with a weak immune system might get sick if they take probiotics.

The best way to go about this is to consult your physician before taking any supplement, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

When to Take a Probiotic

It’s best to take the probiotic on an empty stomach, half an hour before you eat.

This is because stomach acid can endanger the probiotic.

When you take probiotics several hours after a meal, the stomach acids will be lower, and your chances of having a healthy gut will be higher.

FAQs

What Food Is Rich in Probiotics?

Food that’s rich in probiotics includes:

  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Fermented foods and vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha

Can I Take a Probiotic With Other Supplements?

Yes, you can take a probiotic with other supplements. In fact, many probiotics offer vitamin and mineral supplements for more health benefits.

Should I Take a Larger Dose of Vitamins and/or Probiotic?

No, you shouldn't take a larger dose. There aren’t any proven advantages to taking a larger dose.

Always consult the recommended dosage before taking your preferred supplement.

Do You Use Vitamins and Probiotics Together?

While the answer to using vitamins and probiotics is yes, and taking them together may even have beneficial effects, such as making the probiotics work better, you should still be careful.

Always use high-quality vitamins and proven probiotics and buy from a reputable company.

Pro tip: Check the expiration date on probiotics. As they are live organisms, bacteria will die over time.

Did you use vitamins and probiotics together? Let me know your experience in the comments below.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340184/
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WYNTK-Consumer/

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