When Should You Take a Fiber Supplement?

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
scoop of psyllium seed husks, ingredient in metamucil fiber supplement

Fiber intake is an important part of your diet, especially to keep your digestive system running smoothly and avoid constipation. Soluble and insoluble fiber may also help reduce “bad“ (LDL) cholesterol and lower blood glucose levels, all of which helps protect against digestive issues, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

For people 50 years old or younger, doctors recommend women consume 25 g of fiber a day and men consume 38 g. For those over 50, you can cut back on fiber, with women needing 21 g a day and men requiring 30 g a day. You can get fiber naturally in your diet eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But it can be tough to get enough from food alone. You may need to take a fiber supplement to get your recommended daily amount. Always talk with your doctor before adding any vitamin or mineral supplement to your diet.

Fiber Supplement Benefits

Adding more fiber to your diet offers a range of benefits, including weight management. When you take a look at all of the perks of a fiber-rich diet, you may find that a supplement could help you achieve your health goals, such as:

  • Bowel health: Fiber adds bulk to your stool making it easier to pass. If you have constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel disorders, hemorrhoids, or diverticulosis, a high-fiber diet can provide relief. It may also reduce risk of these conditions, as well as colorectal cancer. (Fiber helps reduce the risk of diverticulitis if you already have diverticulosis.)
  • Heart health: Taking a fiber supplement can help lower total blood cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol in your system. A high-fiber diet can also reduce inflammation and blood pressure to protect your cardiovascular system from disease.
  • Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar, which can lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight control: High-fiber foods and supplements can make you feel full at meal times, so you stay satisfied longer and are less likely to overeat. If you’re less hungry and consume less food, you may lose weight, especially around your waist.

When to Take a Fiber Supplement

If you know you are not getting the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber and it is difficult for you to increase it through diet, you may need to take a fiber supplement. People who currently have or are at risk of developing certain health conditions (such as heart disease) that benefit from a high-fiber diet may also want to supplement their dietary fiber intake. Track your dietary fiber intake for a few weeks to see if you are deficient.

When you start taking fiber supplements, it’s smart to ease into it. Adding too much fiber into your diet at once can cause digestive side effects like bloating, gas and cramps. Begin with small doses of fiber and increase it daily or weekly. Listen to your body; it will let you know when you’re consuming too much fiber.

Space your fiber supplement intake throughout the day to keep your digestive system balanced. Take each supplement dose with a large glass of water and stay hydrated throughout the day. If weight management is important to you, take your fiber with breakfast, lunch and dinner to make you feel fuller and more satisfied.

Keep in mind fiber supplements can affect the absorption of medications and other supplements, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions. You may want to take medications an hour before or two hours after your fiber supplement to avoid any problems.

Also, if you have a digestive disease or diabetes, check with your doctor about the best fiber supplement for your body. You may need one that’s gluten- or sugar-free.

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  1. I find it difficult to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Is there any harm in taking a fiber supplement every day? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/fiber-supplements/faq-20058513
  2. Mayo Clinic Q and A: What’s the best way to boost your fiber intake? Mayo Clinic. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-whats-the-best-way-to-boost-your-fiber-intake/
  3. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  4. Fiber. Mount Sinai. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/fiber
  5. By the way, doctor: Will a fiber supplement interfere with my medications? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/will-a-fiber-supplement-interfere-with-my-medications

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 17
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