You eat healthy, keep the processed foods to a minimum, but despite your best efforts you know your diet isn’t likely to cover your nutritional bases entirely so you take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement as a simple insurance policy. 

But sometimes when you take it you end up feeling yucky rather than better.  Maybe your stomach gets slightly unsettled, or you may even feel a little nauseated.  If this happens to you, you’re not alone.  But, you are in luck, because you don’t necessarily just have to live with it.  

Many of the ingredients in multi-vitamin/mineral supplements are a little difficult to digest in their pure form, unlike in their natural state in food. 

Iron is perhaps the most common culprit, but many vitamins and minerals can cause slight stomach upset under certain circumstances, so even the iron-free versions may still be unpleasant at times.  

There are three simple things you can do that can help to reduce those unpleasant parts of taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.   

1. Take it with food

Vitamins and minerals alone are not likely to trigger the full gamut of digestive secretions and activities that a meal would trigger.  This can make it more difficult for your body to absorb and use these nutrients and it can allow them to become more irritating. 

By taking your supplement with a full meal the nutrients become part of the mixture and mimic more natural delivery.

This also disperses them into a larger mass, which keeps their concentration down in any one area of your gastrointestinal tract.  This not only makes it easier for your body to use the vitamins and minerals, it makes them less likely to cause irritation and make you feel uncomfortable.  

2. Split the dose

Many multi-vitamin/mineral supplements require you to take several capsules in order to get a full serving and the full benefit.  That does not mean that you have to take all of them at the same time, though. The serving size is a daily dose.

Try taking half the dose with breakfast and half with lunch.  

Splitting the dose between meals reduces the amount your body has to process all at once.  It also helps to spread out the benefit over more of the day, especially for the water-soluble vitamins, like the B vitamins and vitamin C, that are discarded if they cannot be used right then.  

Some products, like Thorne’s Multi-Vitamin Elite, are specifically designed for split dosing. The separate AM and PM formulations optimize nutritional support throughout the day and night, supporting wakefulness and restful sleep.  

Another option is to select a product that has a smaller serving size, like Thorne’s Basic Nutrients 2/Day.

But, be sure it still contains all the nutrients that you are looking for. Some of the lower capsule count offerings have reduced the serving size by reducing the quantity of certain ingredients that take up a lot of space but are easier to get from other sources, like calcium and magnesium. 

This is fine for people getting enough of those ingredients from other sources, but may not serve everyone equally well.  

3. Drink plenty of water

Water is required for body processes to occur efficiently, and digesting vitamins and minerals is no exception.  Having sufficient water in your gut allows the contents to be mixed and distributed more easily, making it easier for the chemistry of digestion and absorption to occur. 

Drinking enough water also helps with elimination of wastes, including excess vitamins (water-soluble ones) and minerals. 

So, next time you are staring at that handful of pills and wondering if it’s worth it, try these simple adjustments and remind yourself it’s, just in case.  Your body will thank you for it.