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5 Tips on How to Absorb Vitamins Better

More Americans than ever before are obtaining at least a portion of their vitamins and minerals from supplement products. While many people can obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals they need from a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, some may still need supplements to help stave off any potential deficiencies. But did you know that there are various ways to improve the bodily absorption of those vital vitamins and nutrients?

Generally, when we eat or drink nutrients, they must traverse the entire digestive system as various nutrients are absorbed as the food or drink is broken down in the stomach and small intestines. Some people may have gastrointestinal issues, however, which can prevent or hinder the absorption of various vitamins or nutrients. Certain liver and kidney diseases can also affect the bioavailability of certain medications and supplements. 

Another major contributing factor that affects the human body’s ability to absorb vitamins or minerals is their format – pills, capsules, powders, liquids, etc. – and how they’re administered. If you have a condition like acid reflux or any gastrointestinal issues like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, or celiac disease, be sure to talk to your primary care doctor before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements that may react with other medications and inhibit or prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients it needs to survive and stay healthy. 

Here are five useful tips that can help you and your family make the most out of your vitamin supplements: 

  1. Understand your supplements. Some vitamins are fat-soluble and some are water-soluble. Some vitamins or minerals may interact with other compounds, prescribed medications, and even some types of highly acidic or highly basic foods. For instance, taking fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, with fatty or oily foods can help dissolve those nutrients and make them easier to absorb into your body. Taking certain vitamins together can also increase or decrease their relative effectiveness. Taking iron and vitamin C simultaneously, for example, is beneficial because vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better, and vitamin C can help mitigate iron-sensitivity side effects like nausea or constipation. Know which of your supplements can be taken together and which must be taken separately – and always ask your doctor if you have any questions.
  2. Develop a schedule – and do your best to stick to the schedule. While it’s generally good practice to maintain a regular routine to acclimate your body to prescription medication, the same can also be said for your vitamin or mineral supplements. Know which vitamins you must take with a meal and which are better if you take on an empty stomach – and, as alluded to above, make sure your schedule takes into account any potential reactions with other vitamins or medications. 
  3. Take certain vitamins on an empty stomach, as long as it doesn’t cause any stomach pain or nausea. Having other foods or fluids in your digestive tract simultaneously can inhibit or reduce the supplements’ effectiveness in some cases. It can be beneficial to take water-soluble vitamins on an empty stomach, for example, as long as they do not cause any pain or nausea. 
  4. Try taking vitamins or minerals sublingually. Administering your supplements sublingually is one of the best ways to enhance multivitamin absorption – simply apply the liquid, tablet, or gel to the area underneath the tongue and wait for fifteen to twenty seconds before swallowing to allow for maximum absorption. Taking vitamin supplements sublingually is also beneficial for people with chronic gastrointestinal issues who may not be able to rely on their digestive systems to regularly absorb nutrients effectively. 
  5. Boost your digestive and immune systems with probiotics, antioxidants, and other helpful enzymes. Maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract can help your body absorb more nutrients from vitamin and mineral supplements, and from your regular diet as well. 

How well your body absorbs and uses vitamins and minerals can vary from day to day, depending on the countless variables that affect our health, like our diet, sleep, exercise, etc. With proactive measures and an in-depth understanding of your body’s needs and how various vitamins and minerals react, you can develop a healthy wellness routine that ensures your body gets all of the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy, functioning body. Always check with your primary care physician before starting or stopping vitamin and mineral supplements, and ask if there are any potential conflicts or reactions that could occur when taking supplements with your regular, prescribed medications. 

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