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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

How Does the Body Absorb Vitamins?

Vitamins and minerals absorbed are crucial micronutrients that our body needs to perform numerous functions every day. Eating a well-balanced diet ensures that your body is receiving all these micronutrients to repair and replenish itself. But sometimes, even though you eat a wholesome and healthy diet, you cannot reap these micronutrients’ benefits. Have you ever wondered why?

That’s because of your body’s inability to process and absorb all the nutrients from different food items. Millions of people suffer from some form of vitamin deficiency every year. It raises the question: where are vitamins minerals and water absorbed in the body?

Where Are Vitamins and Minerals Absorbed?

vitamin absorption by the body

vitamin and minerals absorption, Credit: Pixabay

There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are found in the liquid portions of food items. As food gets broken down during the digestive process, these vitamins are directly absorbed by the blood. If you consume excess quantities of a particular water-soluble vitamin, it is expelled from your body by the kidneys in the form of urine. Some examples of water-soluble vitamins are:

  1. Vitamin B7

  2. Niacin

  3. Riboflavin

  4. Thiamin

  5. Vitamin B12

  6. Vitamin C

Contrary to water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the blood through lymph channels. These lymph channels are present in the walls of your intestine. Their further absorption needs bile, which is produced by the liver. The bile flows into the small intestine, where it functions to break down fats from these vitamins. After their breakdown, the nutrients from these vitamins are absorbed through the wall of the small intestine. Now you know where are most vitamins and minerals absorbed. The small intestine is the place where they are absorbed.

Some examples of fat-soluble vitamins include:

  1. Vitamin A

  2. Vitamin E

  3. Vitamin K

  4. Vitamin D

What You Should Know Before Taking Vitamin Supplements

vitamin supplements

Analysis of vitamin supplements, Credit: Pixabay

Supplements are a good way to ensure the consumption of vitamins, which might not be present in your diet due to your food choices and preferences. For example, vegetarians cannot get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin D through their diet alone. Many non-vegetarians are also at risk of developing vitamin D deficiencies as it is present in tiny quantities in even a few animal-based food items. But it does not mean that you should take large amounts of them through supplements.

The main reason behind it is that many vitamins like B12 and vitamin C can stay in your liver for large amounts of time, even on their single consumption. By consuming them repeatedly through supplements has the potential of damaging your organs.

Also, supplements can cause fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and K to build up. It increases the toxic levels in your body and can again prove very harmful.

How Does Your Body Absorb Minerals?

vitamins and minerals absorbed

Vitamin and mineral rich food, Credit: Pixabay

Minerals like iron, zinc, copper, and calcium protect your cells from blockage, carry oxygen in different organs, and keep your immune system healthy. The body absorbs different minerals in different ways.

The speed of the absorption of minerals like calcium depends upon its level in your body. It gets actively absorbed when its level is low and vice versa. Many minerals like iron and chromium require a carrier like a vitamin C for its absorption. It is essential that you take the recommended amount of minerals and not more than that because your body does not have a way to eliminate them, unlike vitamins. Now you know how are vitamins and minerals absorbed actively or passively. It depends on their current levels in your body.

Why Does Vitamin Deficiency Happen?

Vitamin deficiency

Man feeling fatigued, Credit: Pixabay

Your body actively absorbs a vitamin from different food sources. Hence, you must consume a wide variety of foods to enable your body to receive all the essential vitamins. A deficiency occurs due to malabsorption of a particular vitamin. A few things should be kept in mind if you want your body to absorb vitamins from foods efficiently.

  1. Consume your meals 2-3 hours before exercise.

  2. Manage your stress levels as high-stress levels are known to hinder vitamin absorption.

  3. Reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine as they minimize vitamin absorption upto 80%.

  4. Your meals should have a fat source to enable the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

By now, you must have understood the importance of vitamins and minerals for your body and how their inefficient absorption can make you prone to developing several deficiencies. A balanced diet is the best way to ensure that you get the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals in your body.

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