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Absorption blockers and what to do about them

By staff

Vitamins and minerals play essential roles within our bodies but do nutrients in supplements interact in a way that could damage or maybe enhance their efficacy in the body?

The best way to get the nutrients that our body’s need to function optimally is from food but there may be instances when our diet isn’t sufficient to provide all the necessary nutrients, which may include toxic growing conditions, chemicals used in GMO crops or simply, poor eating habits amongst other causes of deficiencies.

There is a large amount of scientific evidence to support the use of dietary supplements to assist in nutritional status when deficiencies arise, however timing of their consumption is important to understand.

Timing your supplements appropriately and being aware of possible interactions can not only help you understand your supplements but also avoid side effects.

But if supplements help support you with deficiencies, why do some nutrients they contain hinder or even block each other?

Some compete for the same pathway to be absorbed in our body, such as magnesium and calcium if taken at the same time. Once again, this is where the timing plays a part.

Also, vitamin solubility serves as an indicator of its absorption rates and accumulation tendencies within the body, this is important when considering a multivitamin and mineral toxicity.

Commonly multivitamins contain fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K along with water soluble vitamin C and a B complex.

Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed via dietary fats and are then transported across the intestinal lining and then into general circulation, now accessible to all body tissues. Intake can gradually accumulate to dangerous levels in body fat. Ideally fat soluble vitamins should be taken in the morning alongside healthy fats in your meal.

Water soluble vitamins are absorbed in our intestine and pass directly into the bloodstream and then carried to the tissues for utilisation as it is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves. As our bodies are made up mostly of water, water soluble vitamins circulate easily around the body. Excess usually gets excreted in the urine on a daily basis. Ideally water soluble vitamins should be taken in the morning especially because B vitamins can disrupt sleep.

If we were to compile a list of every nutrient and the possible interaction with each other it would be endless so we have compiled a short list of commonly consumed nutrients and the effects on their absorption with other nutrients as well as other factors to consider.

  • IRON: Calcium, Vitamin E and Zinc can reduce the absorption of iron. Ideally iron should be taken without food during the day.
  • CALCIUM: Magnesium and Zinc can both reduce the absorption of calcium. Ideally calcium should be taken with food towards the end of the day.
  • MAGNESIUM: Calcium reduces the absorption of magnesium. Ideally magnesium should be taken with food at the end of the day.
  • ZINC: Vitamin B9, calcium, iron and copper reduces absorption of zinc. Ideally zinc should be taken with food in the morning.
  • PROBIOTICS: Majority of probiotic benefits occur at times when digestive enzymes, stomach acids and bile salts are at their lowest in an effort to minimize exposure to harsh digestive conditions. Ideally probiotics should be taken 30 minutes prior to a meal or beverage.
  • FISH OIL: Ideally taken during the day with a meal containing healthy fats to stimulate digestive enzymes to help with maximum absorption.

Optimizing our nutrition involves more than what we eat or supplements you may take. It is also about what happens to nutrients once we’ve consumed them. This is important because poor nutrient absorption may lead to a number of ailments such as anaemia.

There are other factors that influence how well your body absorbs nutrients. Lifestyle factors including stress, medication, diet, caffeine, alcohol and even exercise may have negative effects the absorption of nutrients.

Since we are all different and you may be taking certain medications this advice is a simple guide only and is not intended to replace any advice from your health practitioner. Always check with your treating physician when considering taking any supplements to ensure they are right for you