Everyone has been there. You’re taking vitamins or nutrient supplements and ask yourself “Are these even doing anything?”
How are vitamins absorbed into the body and what is bioavailability?
Continue reading to learn what factors you should consider when taking vitamins or supplements.
What Is Bioavailability?
Bioavailability is the ability of your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals that you consume. Even if you don’t take extra vitamins, the food you eat still contains many vitamins and minerals that you need to survive.
It is important to make sure that your body can process the vitamins you take in order to get the full benefits from them. Sometimes you can take too much, and instead of absorbing them, you will feel adverse side effects.
Even though medicine that is delivered intravenously has 100% bioavailability, when you get vitamins and nutrients through food, your body won’t be able to absorb them completely.
Synthetic Vs. Natural
Whether you get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat or from extra supplements, it can affect how they are absorbed by your body. While it may seem like natural sources would always be better, this may not be the case.
Some nutrients, such as folic acid, are better absorbed without the presence of food. For those, it is better to take the synthetic form than to get them from food.
Other nutrients, however, such as vitamin E, have been shown to be better absorbed with food, so it is better to get them from the food you eat.
This is because some natural vitamins get stored in fats. If there are no fats from food, they will have trouble getting absorbed.
In addition to choosing whether you want your vitamins to come from food or in a synthetic form, you’ll also need to consider the purity of the vitamin you want to consume.
For instance, many supplements contain fillers that do nothing to help your body absorb the vitamins you actually want. Whether you take a supplement in liquid or powder form, it is good to find one that has a higher concentration.
Inhibitors and Enhancers
There are many factors that can help or hinder the absorption of vitamins and minerals in your system. This changes the bioavailability of your nutrients. For example, alcohol and caffeine can block the absorption of many vitamins.
Medications and stress hormones can also affect how your body absorbs different vitamins, so it is important to do some research about which vitamins and minerals you want and what will affect their absorption.
In addition to hindering factors, there are also things you can do to help the absorption of minerals. Some supplements should be taken at a certain time of the day while some should be taken with or without food.
Sometimes vitamins can help the absorption of other vitamins. For example, vitamin C increases the bioavailability of iron. Even storing your supplements the right way can help them retain their effectiveness.
There are many factors that affect how your body processes vitamins and minerals, including whether they are natural or synthetic, what you take them with, and even when you take them.
Now that you know the answer to the question of what is bioavailability, feel free to do some more research and choose the right supplements for you. If you liked this article, please leave a comment or check out some of our other articles.