Are You Absorbing Your Supplements?

You’re taking a multi-vitamin, maybe fish oil, maybe vitamins C or D, and maybe some other ones. But are they doing you any good? The truth is that different companies can both have a multi-vitamin (or any other supplement), but one may be way better for you than another.


Original source: here.

            In the health and nutrition world, we throw around the term “bioavailability” around, and in this article, I’ll explain what that means. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll know more about bioavailability than most nutritionists.

What is Bioavailability? 

It’s a fancy word, and all that it means is how much of what you take in is actually absorbed by the body. What influences bioavailability?

The Form of the Supplement 

In order from most bioavailable to least bioavailable:

  1. Intravenous injection. It goes right into your circulatory system, thereby bypassing your digestive system.
  2. Topical. In other words, creams, patches and liquids that go on your skin. Again, this is a method of bypassing the digestive system.
  3. Sublingual. These are drops that you have to hold under the tongue. They get absorbed by the veins that run under the tongue. Sometimes, vitamin B12, vitamin D and others are delivered in this way.
  4. Powder. For example, a protein powder, or a functional food.
  5. Capsule.
  6. Tablet. This is the least bioavailable, and least absorbable. Not that it’s bad, but this is a factor that has to be taken into account.

 How Soluble It Is 

How easily does something dissolve in the body? This greatly affects absorption. For example, try dissolving salt in water. Pretty easy, right? Now, try dissolving oil in water. Not happening. This is a simple example, but some substances dissolve easily in the body, and others don’t.

For example, Centrum (AKA the worst multi-vitamin there is) just sits there. Doesn’t dissolve. At all. I’ve heard stories of being able to see Centrum on X-Rays. Whereas the multivitamins by Platinum are highly absorbable. And no, I don’t have any financial interest in Platinum.

How Big Are the Particles? 

It’s pretty logical that the smaller the particles you’re trying to absorb, the better they get absorbed. For instance, compare regular, granulated sugar to frosting. After all, sugar is sugar, regardless of the form, but one gets absorbed much better than the other. Likewise with different compounds in supplements. Breaking down a large molecule into smaller molecules is called “nanoparticalization.” Try using that word in Scrabble. I think the only person who can do that is Chuck Norris.

How Long is it in Your Body For? 

The longer something stays in your body, the more of a chance it has to get absorbed. That’s why some companies with some supplements do time-released versions. For instance, vitamins B and C only stay in the body for about 4 hours before they’re gone. Creating a time-released version of those supplements make them stay in your body longer.

How Quickly Does it Leave the Body? 

Most (but not all) things that enter the body must first go to the liver. The liver quickly decides what to do with what’s coming in the body. In many cases, the first thing it does is try to clear it as fast as possible from your body. Slowing down, or bypassing this process keeps it in the body longer.

What Else is In the Supplement? 

In many cases, when you pair up 2 ingredients, it increases the bioavailability of the main one. Let’s use curcumin as an example (it’s a part of turmeric), since it’s gaining so much publicity. Curcumin has a very low bioavailability. You’d have to eat 1 kilogram of turmeric to get 8 grams of curcumin. Good luck putting 8 grams of curcumin into 1 pill. It can’t be done, since the biggest size pill can only be 1 gram.

So you’d have to eat 1 kilogram of turmeric to get the therapeutic effect of curcumin. But don’t despair. When you combine curcumin with something called “phosphatidylcholine” (I won’t get into what that is in this particular article), you can get the same effects from only 500mg of curcumin.

So… How do I Use This Information? 

Without needing a degree in biochemistry, and pharmacology, just buy these brands of supplements: Metagenics, AOR, Genestra, Thorne, Genuine Health, Platinum, Douglas Laboratories and Inno-Vite. I’m sure there are probably others that I forgot to mention, and no, I don’t have any financial interest in any of these companies.

Likewise, companies to avoid (and this is a VERY long list) are Centrum, One-a-day, Usana, Isagenix, Visalus, Swiss, Jamieson, Kirkland. And probably many more that I’m either forgetting, or just don’t know about. As a general rule, good supplements do NOT come from Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart, Costco, GNC and Popeye’s. They usually come from health food stores, or directly from health professionals. Sorry to offend anyone. Ah, who am I kidding? No I’m not.

Or if all of this is confusing to you, and you just don’t know which supplements you should be using, let us help you.

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