How Does the Body Absorb Vitamins?

How Does the Body Absorb Vitamins?

Vitamins and minerals are vital nutrients as they take care of various important biological activities in your body. 

Every day, in fact, even as you read this, your body is producing more skin, bones, and muscles. This sends red blood, which transport nutrients and Oxygen, and transfer nerve signals, along hundreds and thousands of miles from and to the brain. 

So, to maintain an equilibrium and aid the biochemical reactions at a cellular level, the body requires some raw materials. These include essential vitamins and other dietary components like minerals, that the body so dearly needs for maximum function, but cannot produce on its own.

So just like one would add fuel to their vehicle to keep it up and running, these micro-nutrients need to be given externally, in sufficient amounts. While most of the time, these are gained by the various food that we consume, it is extremely unrealistic to think that all essential vitamins would be absorbed merely by eating whatever is in the pantry, and in just the right amounts too!

This is where vitamin supplements come in; a multivitamin in the right dose would aid all internal functions and maintain internal equilibrium as well. 

What vitamins are the most vital for optimum function?

Experts have identified thirty most essential micronutrients that include Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, zinc, and magnesium. So, when you choose a multivitamin supplement, look for these ingredients. Truly, nobody wants a supplement that hardly does half of what is promised on the label!

Various vitamin deficiencies and consequence:

  • Scurvy – Long before research scientists existed, sailors who would be long gone in the rough waters, noticed that when they went months without citrus fruits and leafy greens, they developed bleeding gums, which was later named as ”Scurvy,” by scientists. It is the condition that arises as a result of the lack of Vitamin C!
  • Blindness – Vitamin A deficiencies can lead to night blindness and other optical defects.
  • Rickets – Lack of Vitamin D results in ”Rickets,” which is a condition diagnosed as a result of symptoms like weakened bones and joints, and even bowed legs.

How does the body absorb vitamins?

  1. When vitamins are ingested, via vitamin containing food or supplements, they are met by stomach acids, which are digested, and broken down into ”absorbable” parts. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, need a splash of bile from the liver to be digested. These essential micro-nutrients are then absorbed as it passes through the small intestine.
  • After that, fat-soluble vitamins go through the lymphatic system before entering the bloodstream to be carried to the desired cells and tissues. Most of these vitamins also need to bond with peptide/protein particles in order for them to be transported throughout the body.
  • Then they are used for various metabolic activities by organs and systems, and the excess is stored in the liver. (The dosage depends on various criteria like gender, age, health conditions, and presence of chronic conditions, so what is less could be more to another individual- this is why vitamin supplements are tested and made for men and women separately!)
  • When there is a need for additional vitamins, the system then taps into the reserves in the liver and sends it into the bloodstream, which is then utilized.

To understand the concept better, you could think of vitamins as time-release nutrients. It is alright if you get the doses externally, in addition to the food, and your body would squirrel away the excess, stores the rest, and utilizes reserves when needed. You need to worry about it, the body is designed like this, it is incredibly efficient this way, don’t you think?

How about minerals?

Like we mentioned earlier, minerals like zinc and magnesium are also among the top 30 most essential micronutrients. Major minerals are transported through the bloodstream in various ways— for instance, potassium is absorbed by the blood quite fast and circulates free, and like water-soluble vitamins, are excreted by the kidneys. 

Calcium, on the other hand, is very much like a fat-soluble vitamin and needs to be bonded with a protein particle to be absorbed and transported throughout the body.

A research conducted by a team of Thai and Swedish scientists from the University of Tutts found that enjoying the meal when indulging in it, also helps in fast metabolism and absorption.

To make sure that these micro-nutrients are absorbed timely into the bloodstream, you could take a probiotic, or if you prefer to get it via food, try having dairy products like yoghurt as it contains healthy bacteria, aka probiotics. Also, try including healthy fats in your diet. These include creamy fruit like avocado, omega 3 from fish and seafood, and milk. In addition, recent studies prove that drinking tea during meal times can slow down the absorption of vitamins and minerals by the body, so try avoiding it.

Get your vitamins right, drink plenty of water, and engage in regular physical activity. Stay happy and healthy, folks!

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