Five Vitamins and Minerals for Better Sleep

It’s common knowledge that vitamins and minerals are good for you. And it should come as little surprise to learn that vitamins and minerals can influence whether or not you get a good night’s sleep. But which ones can help you get a more restful night of sleep? You may not know. And that’s why we set out to write this guide, to inform you about what vitamins you need to get enough of in your daily intake to get a proper night of sleep.

Before You Begin

It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor, a pharmacist, or a dietician before you begin taking any vitamin supplements or sleep aids. There is always too much of a good thing, and you can overdose on supplements that contain iron and calcium, and on vitamins A, D, E, and K (which are fat-soluble and therefore can build up in your body).

Medical professionals will be able to help you determine what is and is not right for you, and can help you put together a plan of action to get the daily nutrients you need.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known to help your immune system and prevent cardiovascular diseases. There are also quite a few studies that point to the power of vitamin C in soothing the symptoms of a few sleep disorders.

Intravenous supplements of vitamin C were found to help patients with hemodialysis get a better night’s sleep in a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Gorgan University of Medical Sciences. The study examined two months of treatment in a control group that received only normal saline and an experimental group that received the vitamin C supplement.

A study in 2009 published by the Department of Physiology at the University of Delhi had 20 men with obstructive sleep apnea take vitamin C supplements (along with vitamin E supplements) by mouth for 45 days, one group with CPAP therapy for two nights before and another group that had no CPAP therapy. The subjects slept better, spending more time in the deeper stages of sleep.

An earlier study published in 2006 also suggests that vitamin C can help ease obstructive sleep apnea, though this one used injections of vitamin C rather than oral supplements.

Oranges might be what you immediately think of when you consider sources of vitamin C, but you’ll also find it in other fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, lychees, pineapple, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is theorized to impact the amount and quality of sleep you get. Receptors for vitamin D have even been found in the parts of the brain that regulate sleep.

A review of the available evidence of a link between vitamin D and sleep quality was published in 2018 by the University of Naples Federico II in Naples, Italy. A highlight of the review was that low vitamin D levels correlate with disturbed sleep patterns and getting a poor night’s rest.

An earlier study, published in February 2017, found evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and poor sleep in hemodialysis patients. The abstract of the study concludes, though, that its findings need to be confirmed by more experimentation and studies.

The best way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is through exposure to the sun or with a supplement, as vitamin D is found in small quantities in only a few foods. Those foods include fatty fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods and beverages.

Iron

Iron’s main purpose in your body is to help oxygen move from your lungs to your tissues. The amount of iron in your body impacts your sleep quality, how sleepy you may feel during the day, and whether you feel fatigued or depressed.

The John Hopkins University has linked iron deficiency to restless legs syndrome. Restless legs syndrome is where your legs have an irresistible urge to move after a period of inactivity, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

The university says that an insufficient amount of iron in the body is “the strongest environmental risk factor associated with RLS.”

Foods rich in iron include meats such as beef, ham, poultry, fish and shellfish. You’ll also find iron in legumes, quinoa, broccoli, various seeds (pumpkin, sesame, hemp, and flaxseeds), tofu, and dark chocolate.

Calcium

Most know that calcium is good for your bones and teeth, but it’s also good for your sleep as well. Calcium helps the body use the amino acid tryptophan to make melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

A study first published in 2013 found that calcium is linked to less trouble falling asleep and having a truly restful sleep. An earlier study published in the European Neurology Journal has found that our calcium levels are higher in some of our deeper sleep cycles, such as during REM sleep. Low levels of calcium may lead to sleep disruptions, the study concluded.

You’ll find calcium in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. But you’ll also find it in dark greens such as broccoli, fish, and citrus.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one of the many B vitamins and helps your body with the secretion of melatonin. A deficiency of vitamin B12 has been tied to excessive daytime sleepiness.

A case report published in 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine examined a “severe vitamin B12 deficiency as an unusual and rare cause of hypersomnia.” Other common causes for hypersomnia listed were obstructive sleep apnea, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, medication side effects, and of course sleep deprivation.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans are at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency, as a few different studies and scientific reviews have found.

More About Vitamin Supplements

The consensus would seem to be that generally, it won’t hurt you to take a multivitamin every day. But there is limited evidence that they are actually helpful for the average person.

“Supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet,” Dr. JoAnn Manson, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, was quoted as saying in an article from Harvard Medical School. It’s best to get the vitamins you need from the food you consume first, and not rely on supplements as your main source.

But there may be a placebo effect to taking vitamin pills, Manson later added in the article, as “people feel healthier if they do something they believe makes them healthy.” Supplements can also be extremely helpful for certain high-risk groups, such as vitamin D and calcium for adults with osteoporosis.

You might be uncertain whether you should take your vitamin pill first thing in the morning, or whether it’s better to take it at night. A popular thought behind the idea of taking your vitamins at night is that you will draw nutrition from them as you sleep, much as you take nutrition from your food during the day.

But a couple of experts have told The Washington Post that this isn’t the case. Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, told the Post that your digestive system slows as you sleep, so you would not absorb vitamins as effectively at night as during the day.

Neil Levin, a clinical nutritionist at NOW Food, similarly told The Washington Post that B vitamins can act as a stimulant rather than a relaxant for your metabolism and brain function, so it’s better to take them earlier in the day than as you prepare for bed.

As a general rule, you should take your vitamin supplements with food. Many different kinds of supplements may upset your stomach if you don’t take them with a meal or snack.

The Washington Post advises that iron, magnesium and fish oil commonly cause stomach troubles when taken alone, so be sure you have something to eat with those. And be sure to take fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K with a food that has at least 5 grams of fat. These rules naturally apply to any multivitamin that contains these.

Drink plenty of water as well, for any water-soluble vitamins.

Treat a vitamin as the supplement it is, not a way to get out of eating a proper diet. And be aware that supplements aren’t always well-regulated. Read the labels carefully, looking for one that’s gone through a third-party review.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a vitamin and a mineral?

Both are what are called micronutrients. Vitamins are organic, made by living things. Minerals are inorganic, occurring naturally in the soil and rock of the earth.

What should I look for in a multivitamin?

Be careful with any vitamin supplements that give you more than 100 percent of the daily value for any vitamin or mineral, to avoid toxic buildup. But don’t expect to find a multivitamin that gives you 100 percent of the daily value for calcium or magnesium, as that would make the pill too large.

And you don’t necessarily need a multivitamin specifically marketed for your gender or age group, as often the generic pill has a similar vitamin makeup.

Should I get my supplements in pill form or gummy form?

If you can, it’s best not to reach for gummy vitamins as your first choice of supplement, no matter the appeal of eating what’s basically candy to get your nutrients.

An analysis of supplements conducted by ConsumerLab.com in 2017 found that 80 percent of gummy vitamins failed testing when it came to having too much or too little of their ingredients.

There’s also the simple fact that gummies tend to contain more sugar than their pill counterparts.

Conclusion

We hope this guide has helped you along the road of healthy living, leaving you with the information needed for a better night’s sleep.

Remember that this guide is only meant to be a first step on the road to healthier living, and you should always consult with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or in regards to what supplements and medication you take.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Andrew Russell, Wellness Writer Andrew Russell

Andrew Russell is a part-time writer and full-time sleep enthusiast. At Zoma, Andrew lends his sleep expertise and writes many of our “better sleep” guides. Outside of Zoma, Andrew puts his advice to the test, always trying new ways to get deeper, more restorative sleep. We appreciate Andrew because he doesn’t give advice that he doesn’t follow himself, so you can feel confident his solutions for better sleep really do the trick.

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