Absorption — it’s one of those 15-dollar words that makes you feel all smarty pants when you use it at the dinner party. You know, a little bit like “fulsome.” When we say Vitamin absorption or what proportion is absorbed, we are referring to the movement of vitamins from their site of administration into the bloodstream, where the vitamins can be thoroughly distributed in the body.
It’s a common saying that healthy eating is the key to a long life. It’s also believed by many to be the key to living a healthier life as we age. But what about vitamin absorption? I mean, you’re eating all this food supposedly loaded with vitamins and nutrients, but if your body can’t absorb them, then what good will they do you? Here we look at how vitamin absorption works, and review some strategies for improving it.
To achieve a healthy lifestyle, we try to stick to a healthy diet combined with vitamin supplements in order for the body to get the required nutrients to function optimally. However, there is an issue when the vitamins from our diets and supplements have not absorbed by the body, as this implies that the body won’t be getting all the required nutrients to perform optimally.
And that brings us to the issue of Vitamin absorption?
How does Vitamin Absorption work?
When food is consumed, it naturally travels to your stomach and once it gets to your stomach, it’s broken down by hydrochloric acid and enzymes. After this is done, the digestive system extracts the vitamins and nutrients from the food consumed and is directly absorbed into the bloodstream and then transferred to cells who then absorb the nutrients they require.
However, the consumption part is just one part of the vitamin absorption process. Also, it’s important to note that some additional nutrients are sometimes needed to make it possible for the body to absorb some other nutrients or even transport them to other areas of the body. For instance, Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron & chromium. While Copper is also needed by the body in the absorption of iron it needs and without Vitamins D & K, the absorption of calcium won’t be possible.
Also, it’s important that the consumption of certain vitamins doesn’t happen at the same time as they work against each other. For instance, Calcium and Iron prevent the absorption of each other so it’s not advisable to take them simultaneously and the same applies to magnesium and fluoride.
There are other factors that could hamper vitamin absorption and one is that when the body lacks certain nutrients, it will be more aggressively absorbed from the food source. So, for those who actively engage in workouts, it’s recommended that they eat hours before exercising because the body’s attention might be diverted from vitamin absorption while it’s diverting nutrients to the muscles. Also, stress, alcohol, and caffeine are factors that hinder the absorption of nutrients.
Lastly, the kind of food from which the nutrients are being derived can also influence how quickly the nutrients are absorbed. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E & K are better absorbed when consumed in a meal that contains fat.
And this brings us to the question of how to improve vitamin absorption in the body
How to improve Vitamin Absorption?
- Pairing Food wisely: Your food combination plays an essential role in how vitamins are absorbed as it can help improve vitamin absorption as well as enhance overall health. Protein is considered one of the most important nutrients to consider when pairing food whose nutrients we want to be absorbed by the body. In essence, it’s important that you include protein-rich food in every meal in order to get maximum nutritional benefit from your food pairings. An example of how to combine is the combination of Vitamin C and Iron. So, in order for the body to absorb the non-heme iron that is usually found in plant-based food, you need to pair it up with Vitamin C-rich food and this is because Vitamin C helps to break down non-heme iron into a form that can be absorbed by the body. Other combinations are; Calcium and Vitamin D, Fat & Fat-soluble vitamins
- Chew Properly: If you are someone that eats really fast, there’s a high probability that you might not be chewing the food properly and if you are not chewing your food properly, there’s the likelihood that the absorption of nutrients from food might be low
- Eat mindfully without stress. What you eat not only affects your digestion but also how you eat can influence your digestion. So if you are stress eating, this might affect how your food is absorbed. This is because when you are stressed, the brain releases a stress hormone called cortisol, and this makes your heart beat faster as a result, your body dedicates its energy to deal with the stress slowing down the digestive process and ultimately vitamin absorption. So, it is advisable to savor every bite of food you consume as it does not help you chew properly but also breaks it down into a form that makes digestion possible
- Inclusion of probiotics: It’s common knowledge that probiotics are good for gut health but also aid digestion as well as the absorption of nutrients. The bacteria contained in them help in breaking down food particles thereby improving the absorption of vitamins by the intestine. So, it’s advisable that you include probiotics like yogurt, buttermilk, and pickles in your diet in order to ramp up nutrient absorption.
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