During the process of digestion, the absorption and assimilation stage is of most importance. During this time our bodies are able to take advantage of the nutrient rich food and vitamins we ingest, which keep us energized and healthy. Absorption takes place in the small intestine after it’s been broken down and liquified by enzymes and stomach acids. Our ability to absorb nutrients is totally dependent on the health of our gut. When we practice healthy eating, have regular bowel movements and drink adequate amounts of water, our guts are generally in good condition and absorption is optimal. On the other hand, if we intake a lot of sugar, take pharmaceutical drugs regularly, don’t use the bathroom often and don’t incorporate a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet, then it’s possible our gut health may be compromised. It’s important to always asses the health of our guts and be mindful of symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation and stomach pain, as these are indications of imbalance.
In this article we will discuss ways to restore gut health and increase absorption of our food and vitamins.
Paired Vitamins to Increase Absorption
A paired vitamin can be compared to soulmates, they’re just not the same without each other lol. A paired vitamin is any vitamin (or mineral) that is dependent upon another for enhanced and proper absorption. Below are a few vitamin + food pairs to consider.
Oranges and Iron
Vitamin C absorption is enhanced by the presence of iron, so eat an orange while taking your daily iron supplement or wash your seafood dinner down with some fresh lemonade!
Vitamin D and Leafy Greens
Calcium is more efficiently absorbed when Vitamin D is present in the body, which is one of the main reasons why Noor’s bone formula contains both nutrients. Food wise, try pairing your meats with salads and sautéed greens for better absorption.
Bananas and Nuts
I love this combination! Particularly in yogurt or smoothies. B-6 (bananas and oats!) and Magnesium (Nuts) work very well together. Every vitamin and mineral has an attracting pair and even if you are not aware of them all, taking a daily multivitamin and incorporating a healthy whole foods diet, will ensure absorption is at its peak.
Enzymes for Better Absorption
Raw fruits and vegetables contain digestive enzymes, whose function is to break down the food we eat, thus prepping it for digestion and absorption. Pineapples and Papaya’s in particular, are amongst the highest in enzyme action. There are even digestive aid supplements made from their extract! Papaya being called Papain and Pineapple termed Bromelain in capsule form. Our liver and pancreas naturally secrete digestive enzymes, but poor food combining, eating too fast, not chewing your food properly and aging, can cause a strain on our organs and effect how much enzymes we secrete when needed. Indigestion and feeling sleepy after a meal are signs that our bodies may benefit from digestive enzymes. Benefits include better bowel movements, decreased indigestive symptoms and improved absorption; as it is assisting the complete breakdown of food, which makes nutrients easier to absorb.
Probiotics are live bacteria that coat the entire gastrointestinal tract. They are the soldiers of the gut who are responsible for maintaining order, and the balance of good and bad bacteria. Pharmaceutical drugs, sugar and poor food choices add to bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth in the body, which can then inhibit absorption. Probiotics help to boost immunity, regulate bowel movements and most importantly, overthrow the bad bacteria in the gut, which helps to increase absorption. There are many strains and live bacteria counts of probiotics, talk to your health care provider about the best one for you.
Other Tips to Improve Vitamin Absorption
The following are other easy ways to help your body absorb nutrients:
- Choose liquid vitamins vs capsules or soft gels if you are having digestive difficulties as liquids are easier to digest and absorb.
- Follow the Holistic Food Combining Chart. This chart offers useful instructions around eating certain food groups together that help to optimize digestion. Food Guide
- Look for vitamins that contain some natural food ingredients as it will assist in the absorption of synthetic vitamins
All in all, there are many things one can do to improve the absorption of vitamins in the body. Whether you are consciously eating paired foods, taking paired supplements, chewing your food thoroughly or incorporating more pineapples in your diet to assist with digestion. The options are endless and should be considered to get the most out of your vitamins and food.