Did you know that more than half of Americans age 20 and older take dietary supplements? In fact, 80% of women age 60 and older take some type of supplement. The bioavailability of vitamins is something that many people don't consider when adding vitamins or supplements to their diet. Bioavailability is the ease with which the body can absorb the nutrient, which plays an important role in the effectiveness of a supplement or vitamin. If you're looking to get the most out of your supplements, there are a few steps you can take to maximize nutrient absorption.
When it comes to calcium, choose a supplement that combines with vitamin D or take calcium along with vitamin D-rich foods, such as eggs (with yolk), mushrooms, and fatty fish. Calcium supplements are available as capsules, tablets, powders and chewables and are better absorbed in smaller doses, so stick with doses of 500 mg or less (taken several times a day). Vitamin B12 is important in the creation of red blood cells and is found naturally in animal foods. If you supplement vitamin B12, your body will only absorb the missing amount, and any excess will be excreted during urination.
Most vitamin B12 supplements are composed of cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form of the vitamin. It is easily absorbed by the body and is cheaper to manufacture. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, so taking it with water on an empty stomach will help the absorption of vitamin B12. A positive side effect of vitamin B12 supplements for some people is increased energy, so it's best to take them in the morning. Taking vitamin B12 with vitamin C can reduce the bioavailability of vitamin B12, so if you're taking both supplements, it's best to keep them a few hours apart.
Nutrients that cannot be dissolved are less likely to be absorbed, so they must be consumed with a solution that can dissolve them. To maximize nutrient absorption, consume your fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) with fats or oils that may aid absorption. For example, when you take your multivitamin in the morning, consume it with nut butter, such as almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter. If you eat eggs in the morning, cook them in olive, coconut, or avocado oil. You can also add avocado to your whole-grain toast or as a side fruit.
If you're taking your multivitamin for lunch or dinner, add a few slices of avocado or a handful of nuts or seeds to your sandwich or salad, or add olive oil or avocado to roasted vegetables. This one is easier and is especially important if you eat a lot of plants. For starters, iron from plants or eggs (called “non-heme iron”) isn't absorbed as well as iron from meat. Eating it with a source of vitamin C helps remedy the problem and increase absorption. It's also helpful if you eat legumes or whole grains, as they contain phytic acid, an “anti-nutrient” that can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as zinc and magnesium.
This is why most curcumin (turmeric) and green tea (EGCG) supplements, along with many prescription medications, include piperine - some studies have found that it improves the absorption of its anti-inflammatory compounds. These critters help you digest and break down food, and it's easy to damage your microbiome if you sleep enough, don't eat enough fiber, or are simply stressed. Research has found that the intake of certain probiotics increases the absorption and utilization of proteins and other nutrients. Much to the chagrin of raw food enthusiasts, many foods seem to be digested better when cooked because they help break down plant cell walls. Cooking actually increases the bioavailability of beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A and is found in tomatoes and carrots), decreases oxalates (which hinder iron absorption) and facilitates the absorption of proteins from eggs and meat. Boiling it reduces broccoli's vitamin C content by 50 percent - largely because it's soluble in water and filters into the water - but even the microwave can consume about 25 percent of the vitamin C.
Bad sleep means bad everything; it interferes with a variety of hormones related to stress, blood sugar and nutrient absorption - all of which are involved in the absorption of nutrients. There are also many things you should avoid to improve absorption: alcohol can kill digestive enzymes and stress can cause you to run out of nutrients such as vitamin C.Foods that are high in fiber, protein, and fat tend to take longer to digest and fully absorb than those that are high in sugars and simple carbohydrates. The right type of digestive enzymes you should take will depend on the type of food and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, or fats) you want to absorb. The problem may be the way you take magnesium supplements since certain minerals including magnesium may be easier to digest and absorb and are less likely to break down when taken in liquid form.
Vitamin K, vitamin D and calcium should be taken together because this combination helps the body to better absorb minerals such as calcium in bones. It's not much use trying to gain muscle by eating a ton of protein and calories if you're not absorbing enough nutrients. Cooking techniques and food storage can also affect the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables preventing you from absorbing all the nutrient content. When some nutrients combine they act cohesively to help improve absorption for example by breaking down nutrients in ways that the body can more easily absorb. When considering how to help your body absorb nutrients and combat nutritional deficiencies it's crucial to approach your diet and supplement it as needed to avoid deficiencies. Whether you do everything you can to ensure that your diet includes all essential nutrients you need or you choose to take quality supplements most days to increase your intake even more - the last thing you want is to miss an opportunity to actually absorb these nutrients.