The proportion of nutrients the human body can absorb and use is known as bioavailability. Usually, people think that when they eat some food, for example, an apple, the body uses every antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral from it, however, this is not necessarily the case.
Nutrient Absorption and Bioavailability
Digestion is a bodily mechanism which processes the nutrients coming from food. This is a complex process of events and even small malfunctions can cause complications. Namely, the health of the organs, as well as enzymes, and how we chew food affects the efficiency of the digestion. Its functioning can also influence the bioavailability of the nutrients in food and the production of enzymes and the functioning of the organs.
The intestinal lining absorbs the nutrients and they are transported to the bloodstream and then distributed for usage or storage.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
These are two distinct types of nutrients. The former are carbs, proteins, and dietary fats and we need large amounts of them for adequate growth of tissue and for a sufficient level of energy for the body. Their level of bioavailability is high and it can reach up to 90 percent of utilization. The latter are minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, as well as phytochemicals. Their bioavailability is variable and although we need them in trace amounts, they are pivotal. Namely, a lot of bodily processes require enzymes and hormones.
What Influences Bioavailability?
Did you know that every person has a different bioavailability rate and that your body may absorb and use different amounts of a specific nutrient? A lot of factors can affect the absorption. For example, if one does not have enough protein in the gut which aids the absorption and use of vitamin B12, the vitamin will only pass through the organism.
Other Contributing Factors
As bioavailability depends on the digestion, a less efficient digestive system will be unable to absorb all the nutrients it meets.
Almost half of children worldwide between the age of 6 months and 5 years have some type of micronutrient deficiency and when they do not have the needed micronutrients in the necessary amount, proper development can be impeded.
When taken together, some nutrients assist in each other’s bioavailability. Calcium and magnesium are such a combination. This is also why a balanced and versatile diet is highly effective due to the abundance of micronutrients supporting each other.
The Difference between Real and Synthetic Nutrients
Whole foods are the most beneficial nutrient sources and a well-balanced diet that is planned adequately will help you achieve this. However, there are cases when this does not help and there is a need of nutritional supplements to complete the gap between the nutrients one consumes and the nutrients the body requires.