How Long Does It Take for Multivitamins to Work?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
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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 discovered that the time it takes to feel the effects of a multivitamin depends on several factors, which I will discuss in detail.

Quick Summary

  • To experience the benefits of multivitamins, it generally takes about 3 to 6 weeks, depending on various individual factors and the type of multivitamin.
  • The effectiveness of multivitamins is influenced by factors such as the user's health condition, nutrient deficiencies, and the form of the supplement taken.
  • A healthy gut microbiome can increase vitamin absorption by up to 50%, significantly impacting multivitamin effectiveness.
  • I've found that maintaining a balanced diet and managing stress are just as crucial as the multivitamin itself for optimal health benefits.

How Long Does It Take for Multivitamins to Work?

Pouring a multivitamin on hand

The time it takes for multivitamins to work can vary depending on the type of multivitamin and its specific benefits, but generally, you can expect to see some effects within 3 to 6 weeks.

Mostly, this period depends on the type of multivitamin you’re taking.

For instance, if you're taking a multivitamin that includes a blend of vitamins and minerals, it may take a few days for you to notice their benefits.

If you have bone density issues and you need a calcium-based multivitamin supplement, you’ll have to wait about six weeks for calcium to repair bone health.

Drawing from my days on the soccer field, I found that taking an iron-based multivitamin for red blood cell replenishment meant waiting about two weeks before feeling back to my peak condition.

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

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

Let's see those factors in more detail.

Related Articles:

5 Factors Affecting The Effects Of Vitamins

Taking a multivitamin

1. Deficiency Levels

The time it takes for a vitamin to take effect largely depends on the extent of your deficiency.

So if you have a severe deficiency, vitamins and minerals will need more time to fulfill the body’s needs and achieve 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

A deficiency can happen because of factors such as stress, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), the state of the digestive system, and even the soil of your country, no matter if you’re having a balanced diet and making sure you’re covered on all vitamins.

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

Vitamin dosage, quality, or ingredients all affect how effective one supplement will be.

Moreover, how effective the vitamin is 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 effective compared to capsules.
  • 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, like B-complex and vitamin C, dissolve in water and quickly get absorbed into our bodies, as per the Diet and Health publication [1].

They're not stored in the body, so we need them daily. They start absorbing 3 to 6 hours after we take them. For the best results, take them in the morning on an empty stomach to boost absorption and use.

Now, let's talk about fat-soluble vitamins - D, K, E, and A. These guys need fat to be absorbed and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Unlike their water-soluble cousins, they stick around in the body. To get the most out of them, have them with meals that include healthy fats, as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic [2].

When it comes to which ones will have a faster effect, water-soluble vitamins hold an advantage as they dissolve easily and are swiftly absorbed by the body.

4. Lifestyle and Health Issues

Healthy food and exercise tools

Your daily habits significantly influence vitamin absorption. High-stress environments, like competitive sports, can disrupt nutrient uptake. Alcohol is a big no-no for maintaining effective nutrient absorption. In some cases, you might need extra supplements for balance.

Caffeine also plays a role. It impacts nutrient absorption and energy levels. For best results, take vitamins on an empty stomach and hold off on caffeine for about 30 minutes.

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

  • Gut disease (stomach upset and inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Cardiovascular disease

5. Digestive Health

The health of your gut plays a huge role in how well and how quickly vitamins are absorbed. A 2017 study in the Journal of Translational Medicine shows that a healthy gut microbiome is key for vitamin absorption and use [3]. A diverse gut microbiome can ramp up vitamin absorption by up to 50%, making your multivitamins work better.

Also, the enzymes in your digestive system are super important for activating and using vitamins effectively. Without these essential enzymes, as pointed out in the 'Nutrient Metabolism' book, vitamin efficiency can take a hit [4].

Limiting Multivitamin Intake

When it comes to multivitamins, remember that more isn't always better. While they're generally good for you, overdosing can actually harm your health, depending on the vitamin.

For instance, your body can handle extra vitamin C by flushing out the excess. But, if you go overboard with vitamin A, it can build up to toxic levels in your body. This can lead to serious issues like blood clotting problems, weakened bones, and an overactive immune system.

Therefore, keep with the daily doses of vitamins recommended by the National Institute on Aging [5].


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218756/
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-time-to-take-vitamins/
  3. https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218756/
  5. https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Longwood_Seminars/Nutrition_3_5_13.pdf
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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