How do you remember to take your vitamins?
January 29, 2013 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Doctor recently advised that I take flaxseed or fish oil for the Omega-3 goodness, and I can't seem to get into the habit. I do not have much a morning (or evening) "routine", which I guess is working against me. You guys are grown ups (and I feel like less of one since I can't figure this out!) - how do you remember to do it?
posted by ersatzkat to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm terrible with vitamins, too, but I used to use flaxseed oil in salad dressing and that was a pretty easy way to make it a habit. Plus, it will force you to eat more vegetables.
posted by something something at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2013

Recurring alarm on your phone.
posted by animalrainbow at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2013 [12 favorites]

I either set stuff like this right next to my toothbrush, because I'm going to see it at least a couple of times per day, or I throw it in my purse or a work bag I know will always be with me and I'll have to reach into a few times a day. It seems that if I bump into it at least a few times, I'll eventually remember to take it.
posted by goggie at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Get one of those pill-a-day boxes (the one week size). Fill it up, and put it on top of your toothpaste.

That way, there's really only conscious thought involved once a week.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2013 [14 favorites]

Set a daily alarm on your phone or a daily appointment/reminder on your computer (e.g. Google Calendar can send you email reminders for calendar entries). Set the alarm/reminder for a time of day you are always able to take the oil (e.g. 10:30am because you're always sitting at your desk at work with a glass of water, or 9pm because you're always sitting on the sofa watching TV after dinner).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:57 AM on January 29, 2013

I do have a morning routine, so I always have mine with my breakfast. If you don't normally eat breakfast, maybe you could just make sure to always have it with lunch? Once you start the habit, you'll automatically think of it when you eat lunch.
posted by barnoley at 7:57 AM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the trick is to put it in very close proximity to something that you do daily, whether it's next to your breakfast cereal or by your floss. Figure out that one thing that you never miss (even if you don't think you have a "routine" as such), and stick it nearby.
posted by catch as catch can at 7:58 AM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have a few drugs I need to take every day. The ones before bed are easy: I'm heading to bed, and what do I need to do before going to bed? Take the pills.

However, even though I've been taking drugs daily since I was 15, I very, very frequently forget to take them in the morning. Like, right now, when I read your question, I just realized I still need to take them. Keeping a pill bottle at my drawer at work, and trying to link it to an activity I do at work every day (say, opening Outlook) has been helpful.
posted by phunniemee at 7:58 AM on January 29, 2013

Seconding pill boxes. I bought a little round one at the dollar store - it doesn't take up much space and works great. If you live in a humid area, toss some rice in there so the containers don't fog up, though.
posted by zug at 7:58 AM on January 29, 2013

I put my vitamins on my desk.
posted by discopolo at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

I started taking fish oil and my Vitamin D supplement at bedtime, just before I start getting ready for bed. It took me a few weeks to actually do it daily, but I just put them right at the entrance to my kitchen, which I have to walk past to fill up my water glass for my bedside table, and then I see them and am reminded to take them. When I'm out of this routine for travel I forget more often than not, so I set an alarm on my phone.
posted by bedhead at 8:00 AM on January 29, 2013

Yeah, they make me feel like a nana, but we have pill-a-day boxes out on the kitchen counter to remind us to take our vitamins with dinner. Plus I take a variety of things, so they save have having go fish a pill out of 5 different bottles.
If it's hard to get in the habit at home and you have a workplace, keep the bottle on your desk.
posted by Sayuri. at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2013

I use a monthly pill organizer so then I only need to set it up once a month. EIther keep it by your toothbrush or by your coffee maker. (Toothbrush is probably the most reliable)
posted by mmf at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2013

Pill box can be super handy.

Also, remember it doesn't have to be morning or bedtime. What about trying to take it at lunchtime instead? If you pack your lunch, pack your vitamin/pill with that. Basically find ANY time of day that you do something routinely and add it to that.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2013

Figure out where you always put your keys/purse/wallet. Put the bottle of pills there. Put the keys/purse/wallet on top. Grab your keys, remember to take your pill. Bonus if you can keep a bottle of water next to the pills so that it's very convenient and quick to take the pill.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2013

My pot of vitamins lives on top of the coffee maker. I literally can't make coffee without moving the vitamins. I do make coffee every morning, though, which helps.
posted by Solomon at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2013

Get an extra bottle for your office, and a smaller one for your purse. I can't count the number of times I've remembered that I forgot while at work or in the car and then forgotten again by the time I got home. Having a spare lets me take it right when I remember.
posted by Etrigan at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

seconding pill boxes and a phone alarm. That's how I do it.
posted by royalsong at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2013

I take cod liver oil everyday and I take it with breakfast. If I didn't eat breakfast I would take it with lunch or dinner or whatever regular meal comes first each day. If I take vitamins on an empty stomach I feel like throwing up 30 minutes later so taking it with the first meal of the day is a good routine.
posted by fromageball at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2013

I have a pill box that goes from Sunday to Saturday.
I put it RIGHT NEXT to my keys, wallet and phone staging area.
And by staging area, I mean wherever the hell I put them when I walk into the door.
posted by THAT William Mize at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2013

Personally, I find the gummi-variety vitamins much easier to remember, mostly because I actually look forward to taking them every morning. They make an adult version of this stuff for a reason.
posted by nikkorizz at 8:16 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm also a gummi-vitamin/gummi-calcium taker. I keep them at work because it's easier to remember them when they're in a desk drawer I look in a few times a day. I usually end up taking them in the afternoon when I'd normally want a snack. I figure 5 days of compliance is better than nothing.
posted by BlooPen at 8:22 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Little box with the days of the week on and an alarm on my phone. Also keeping them in my desk at work helps.
posted by wwax at 8:23 AM on January 29, 2013

I put bottles in multiple places. One on my desk at home, one at work, so that whenever I remember I can take it right away. Then the trick is avoiding procrastination.
posted by gilsonal at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2013

Put the fish oil capsules next to the cat food, so you take it when you feed the cat. Remark, "Fish for YOU, fish for ME" as you serve yourselves some delicious Omega-3s.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:26 AM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

I put my morning pill bottle on my side table. Alarm goes off, roll over, pop pill and drink some water.
posted by cabingirl at 8:29 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's part of my routine that every night I take my handful of vitamins, allergy pill, and birth control pill. The pills have a basket in the kitchen (because the humidity in the bathroom is not good for your meds) next to a water bottle that I keep there for convenience. I take my pills, then go brush my teeth/bathroom routine, then go to bed.
I found Health Month to be a great help for starting new habits this year. It's a good reminder without making me feel like crap for skipping a day or two at the beginning. There's a MeFi team that you can join, too!
posted by aabbbiee at 8:30 AM on January 29, 2013

When I was taking a daily med, I set a daily Google Calendar alert. Every morning at 9:30, it would email me with "have you taken your meds yet?" and beep an alert on my phone.

I'd originally had the pill bottle by my bedside with a glass of water to take in the morning, but the cat insisted that the water was for him and would drink it, plus I found that I really needed not to take it on an empty stomach, so 9:30AM it was.
posted by telophase at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2013

I think I read it on mathowie's blog, but I use the app PillBoxie.

Also it really does to keep them somewhere where you're not going to miss it and you can incorporate in a regular routine - next to your toothbrush, on your dresser, etc. Also keeping a full glass of water next to the pills helps too.
posted by radioamy at 9:00 AM on January 29, 2013

I have to take pills daily, once in the morning and again at night. I bought three weekly see-through pill-a-day boxes and stack them up on my bathroom sink so I can't miss them first thing in the morning and before I hit the sack. Also, and this is a plus, if I forget them in the morning and I use my bathroom at another point of the day, I can easily clearly see that I forgot them in the morning so I can take them then.

So every three weeks, I plop myself down and divvy all my meds and vitamins for the weeks ahead. Why three weeks? So when I start to run out of pills, I can remind myself to call the pharmacy in the morning to re-order the next batch so I'm never "OMG I'm all outta my pills tonight!"
posted by HeyAllie at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2013

A lot of these tips are good (and I use them), but there's a caveat about the flaxseed oil, if you go that route. Mr. dlugoczaj and I both take it at our doctor's advice, and wouldn't do fish oil because he's a vegetarian and I'm a bit leery about the stories I hear about gross fish-oil belches afterwards.

Now, when I buy flaxseed capsules for Mr. dlugoczaj and myself at our food co-op, the bottles are kept in a fridge, and so we always keep them there at home too. I just googled to see if it was an absolute that flaxseed oil needs to be refrigerated, and I'm finding in several places that it's perishable and should be stored in a dark bottle in the fridge--which is why my flaxseed oil capsule doesn't go in the weekly pillbox that all my other pills do.

I don't know if fish oil works the same way, or if it's OK to store in a pillbox outside the fridge. Otherwise I'd recommend the weekly pillbox without reservation. As it is, I always take my flax cap for the simple stupid reason that Mr. dlugoczaj brings it to me at dinner when he takes his--but that means that if I don't have dinner with him I don't always take it. Maybe you could work a buddy system?
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:08 AM on January 29, 2013

Nthing to Leave them in an obvious place. Mine are on the kitchen bench so if I forget them w breakfast (rarely) they're right there when im making dinner too. I also take old vitamin containers w a mix of all the current ones I'm taking when I go away for a few days / weeks. If they're in the cupboard it's usually a case of 'out of sight out of mind'
posted by Under the Sea at 10:30 AM on January 29, 2013

Pill box with days of the week on it. Right next to the alarm clock. Get up, turn off alarm, take pills. I take my vitamins at the same time too!
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:35 AM on January 29, 2013

I've got a once-a-day pill to take. I keep the bottle on a very visible shelf.

At night, before I go to bed, I pull the bottle to the front of the shelf.

During the day, when I've taken the pill, I push the bottle to the back of the shelf so I know I've taken the dose.

The shelf is right by the bathroom so I can't help but see it all the time and get reminded if I haven't taken the pill yet.
posted by cadge at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2013

I put my vitamins/pills on my nightstand with a bottle of water and take them before I go to bed.
posted by Kimberly at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2013

I do the same thing as kimberly only I take them before I get out of bed in the morning. I do this with all of my daily meds. I also take the Pill and I check the pill package to make sure today's is missing before I go to bed (because I take them all at once, if today's is missing I know I've taken all my meds for the day. You can do the same by pre-filling one of those daily medication dealies).
posted by windykites at 11:03 AM on January 29, 2013

In the four+ years I have had to take daily medication for a heart ailment, I have only missed it once. I think the key to the whole thing is routine and belief. Establish a routine of taking the pill at the same time every day. Some like the morning, some like the night. With certain medications, your doctor may tell you to take in morning or evening. Second, is how much you believe that the vitamin or medication is important to your well being. If you are not a total believer, then there is a good chance you will slip up often and forget. If you believe it is crucial to your health, you will find a way to remember to take it everyday.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:15 AM on January 29, 2013

Okay, this is a little silly-sounding but it is the only thing that has worked for me. I have to take one kind of med in the morning, and one at night. I put them both in a both in a small box on my vanity/bathroom counter (a place I have to be at while getting ready for work in the morning and while getting ready for bed at night). I have a naked mole rat rubber toy that I put next to the box. After I have taken my morning pill, I put the naked mole rat on top of the box. After I have taken my evening pill, I put the naked mole rat back beside the box. If it is morning and the mole rat is not "up," I know I need to take my morning pill. If it's at night and the mole rat is still "up," I know I need to take my nighttime pill. If you have roommates/small children in the house, make sure they know NOT TO MOVE THE NAKED MOLE RAT.

You probably don't need a naked mole rat rubber toy for this, but I'd recommend using something eyecatching.
posted by queensissy at 11:19 AM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Put them by your toothbrush or another object you use every day, in a way that makes it impossible to use that object without being cognizant of your vitamins.
posted by Silvertree at 11:28 AM on January 29, 2013

Routine definitely helps. Can you create one? Every morning I eat the same breakfast: cereal and toast. My vitamins are next to the cereal boxes, so I see them each time I want cereal. When I briefly switched to smoothies for breakfast, I forgot to take the vitamin.

If something like that wouldn't work for you, I agree with others who said a reminder on your phone might be helpful. Or if you live with someone, ask for their help reminding you, at least to start.
posted by eleanor_of_aquitaine at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2013

I try to take mine right after lunch, in part because my multi gives me a rumbly tummy. I'm currently taking my fish oil via the gummy version so it's like OH A POST LUNCH TREAT. (But I will admit that I am damn sick of the taste of the gummies and am looking foward to getting back to soft capsules.)
posted by sm1tten at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2013

Did anyone mention pill boxes? I have mine on the table where I take all of my meals. I have four weekly boxes which I fill every 28 days. It's the only way I've become consistent in taking my meds and supplements.
posted by deborah at 10:28 PM on January 29, 2013

I keep my fish oil next to my beside lamp so I have to see it (and remember to take it) before I turn off my light every night.
posted by SakuraK at 10:41 PM on January 29, 2013

Yeah getting a pill box like my grandmothers was the only way I started consistently taking my vitamins. And coincidentally started actually seeing some results from taking vitamins! Who would have thought those two would be related...

It also saves a lot of time not having to open and close all those bottles every morning. I keep it in my bathroom next to a glass of water so I can take them while I'm getting ready in the morning.
posted by whoaali at 5:02 PM on January 30, 2013

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