Do you ever wonder what nutrients you just ate are doing in your system? Maybe that vitamin C is being used to fight an infection, or hopefully that protein went straight to those abs you’ve been working on all summer. Unfortunately, some of those nutrients may not even enter your system. Just because you ingest a nutrient doesn’t mean it makes it to your bloodstream. Unless nutrients are absorbed, they’re just passing through.
There are many dynamics at play affecting if and how a nutrient is absorbed. When you are deficient in a nutrient, for example, your body will more readily absorb that nutrient in order to return to homeostasis. Other factors that can affect nutrient absorption include stress, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, excessive exercise too soon after eating, and diseases of the digestive system.
How It Works
The nutrients’ journey starts in the mouth. As you chew your food or drink your Reliv shake, enzymes in your saliva begin to break down the contents. Then it’s down your esophagus and on to your stomach, where food is further broken down by hydrochloric acid and enzymes. The small intestine comes next, where most chemical digestion and nutrient absorption takes place.
The small intestine is about 23 feet long on average and is composed of 3 sections — the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. Digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gall bladder enter the small intestine to lend a hand. The walls of the small intestines have many folds (plicae circulares) and microscopic fingers (villi and microvilli) that increase the small intestine’s surface area in order to absorb as much as possible.
Once absorbed, nutrients travel through blood vessels to different organs of the body to be used to build complex structures like proteins that our bodies need to function. Cells absorb the nutrients they require to function optimally. Whatever is not digested or absorbed or is not usable by the body passes on to the large intestine (and on out).
The Right Combination
In some cases. the combination of vitamins and minerals can increase or decrease how efficiently they are absorbed. For example, high doses of vitamin B-5 can inhibit biotin absorption and high doses of vitamin A can inhibit vitamin K absorption. On the flip side, vitamin C increases iron absorption and vitamin D increases calcium and magnesium absorption. Some vitamins help in the transport of other vitamins. Other nutrients are in competition for absorption. Calcium has similar chemical properties to several other minerals, for example, and the body’s cells use the same binding sites for these minerals, so there is competition even in smaller doses.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to eat a well-balanced diet and take a well-balanced supplement (like Reliv products – see Dr. Carl’s note below). Make sure you’re choosing quality nutrient formulations designed to be bioavailable, or readily absorbed by the body, or you won’t be getting the nutrition you think you are.
A Note from Dr. Carl: Don’t take nutrients in vain
Bioavailabilty has been a priority in the formulation of every Reliv product since the very beginning. In fact, it is one of the core characteristics of our unique approach to nutrition, The Reliv Difference. Unlike the generic vitamins at the store that often pass right through, Reliv’s shakes and other specially designed products provide the body instant access to the nutrients they contain, providing greater benefit from each serving.
And with LunaRich® we have taken the bioavailability of lunasin to a whole new level. LunaRich is manufactured in such a way as to leave a protective shell of protease inhibitors intact around the lunasin molecule. These molecules keep proteases (enzymes that break down proteins) from breaking down the lunasin molecule, ensuring it arrives safely to the small intestine. Here the shell is broken and lunasin is readily absorbed. How do we know? Studies of LunaRich have shown the successful delivery of bioactive lunasin to the bloodstream. View this video to learn more.
With Reliv, you can rest assured that you’re getting optimal nutrition that won’t go to waste.
To your health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings
Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Thank you Reliv and Dr. Carl for another great article!