Though you should avoid taking medications with orange juice, you can safely wash down a multivitamin with a cup of this liquid. Orange juice even contains many vitamins, so you can think of it as a natural liquid multivitamin. Some vitamins do need fat -- which is lacking in orange juice -- to be properly absorbed, so you need more in your stomach than just orange juice when you take a multivitamin.
In the past, most doctors frowned on taking multivitamins because they believed that the supplements were unnecessary with a well-balanced diet. That may be true, but the vitamin and mineral content of many foods has decreased in recent decades because of depleted soil and unnatural harvesting and processing techniques. Most people don’t eat as much fresh, raw produce compared to their ancestors. Instead, they eat much more processed food. Processing is damaging to heat- and light-sensitive vitamins. Consequently, taking multivitamins in moderation is a safe and relatively cheap way to ensure that you don’t develop any symptoms related to vitamin deficiency.
Multivitamins typically contain all of the known vitamins in safe doses including A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, B-12, C, D, E and K. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, which means they need some animal or plant-based fat to be properly dissolved and absorbed in your intestines. Taking a multivitamin with orange juice on an empty stomach is not the best choice because your body won’t be able to use the fat-soluble vitamins. To ensure proper absorption, take multivitamins with meals or milk.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamins B-9, B-1 and beta-carotene, which is a type of precursor to vitamin A. Orange juice has almost no fatty acids, which makes it a relatively poor choice to wash down a multivitamin if you haven’t eaten anything. If you’ve had some eggs or bacon with breakfast, orange juice should pose no problems. Some orange juice is even fortified with vitamin D and some extra minerals. Always choose fresh-squeezed orange juice rather than brands made from concentrate, which may contain added sugars.
The acidity in orange juice may help to better dissolve the coating of a multivitamin tablet and the binders that hold the vitamin together. Some people don’t have enough acidity in their stomachs, which negatively affects digestion, absorption and metabolism. If your multivitamin contains minerals such as calcium and iron, the increased acidity of orange juice is helpful for absorption.
- Contemporary Nutrition: Functional Approach; Gordon M. Wardlaw et al.
- Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism; James L. Groff et al.
- Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition; Benjamin Caballero et al.
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.