Vitamin Absorption: How Does It Work and Ways to Improve It
A vitamin is a micronutrient that our bodies need to develop and function normally.
In more medical terms:
Vitamins are a group of organic compounds essential for the body’s healthy growth and nutrition. They contribute to the development of cells, organs, immune system and energy supply.
Vitamins can be obtained through a healthy diet and/or supplementation. They are found in foods such as eggs, low–fat dairy foods, fortified bread and cereals, poultry, beef and fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and shellfish.
However, to benefit us, vitamins need to be digested and absorbed properly.
Let’s look into how our bodies can absorb vitamins to the best effect.
How are vitamins absorbed?
If you get vitamins orally (via food or tablets), then the absorption occurs in the small intestine as part of the digestion process.
After chewing and swallowing our food, it travels to the stomach. There it is broken down into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins by acids and enzymes and the digestive process extracts the vitamins and minerals to allow them to be absorbed.
It’s important to note that only around 20-50% percent of the regular vitamins taken orally are absorbed by the body.
At our IV therapy clinic in London, you can choose from over 20 vitamin cocktails that bypass the digestive system, resulting in a 90-100% vitamin absorption rate.
IV therapy is the fastest way to deliver nutrients into the body.
Different types of vitamins and how they are absorbed
Vitamin absorption rate also varies by the type of vitamins you consume.
There are two types of vitamins: water–soluble and fat–soluble.
Absorption of water-soluble vitamins
Water–soluble vitamins don’t stay in the body. Since they dissolve in water, they leave in our urine. Therefore, it is essential that they are consumed as part of our daily diet to ensure a healthy supply.
Water–soluble vitamins can be separated into two groups: Vitamin V and Vitamin B.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight infections and promotes healing. It is found in citrus fruits, most commonly oranges. Vitamin C has molecules that bind to them in a midway section of the small intestine allowing them to be transported into the bloodstream.
Vitamin B is absorbed slightly differently as they bind to proteins and need stomach acids to break down the protein to allow them to travel and be absorbed. This process occurs a little further down the small intestine.
We need Vitamin B to establish and maintain healthy skin, hair, and eyes. It also contributes to the healthy nervous system.
Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
Fat–soluble vitamins stay longer within the body and are stored to be used when needed. As a result, these do not require the same daily supply compared to water-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins comprise the group of Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
As the name suggests, these need to dissolve in fat-digesting bile acids, also found in the small intestine. When the fat is broken down, the vitamins move into the body and travel to the liver and/or body fat where they are stored for use.
Vitamin A is important for our eyesight, immune system, and reproductive system.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones and fights viruses.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from damaging ‘free radicals’ which are produced in response to ageing, pollution, drinking alcohol, and smoking.
Vitamin K is required for blood coagulation and controlling the binding of calcium in bones and other tissues.
Best vitamin combinations for better absorption
Certain vitamins and nutrients are best taken together to improve absorption.
- Vitamin C and Iron: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of the iron found in plant foods.
- Vitamin D and calcium: Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is needed for calcium to be absorbed.
- Vitamin A, D, E, K and fat: All of these vitamins are fat-soluble, so the presence of dietary fat, like olive oil, helps with their absorption.
- Magnesium and zinc: magnesium helps the body regulate its zinc levels, while zinc ensures that magnesium is absorbed effectively by the body.
When should you take vitamin supplements?
A regular balanced diet should give you the vitamins needed to protect you and build a healthy body and immune system. However, there are times when extra help may be needed including:
- Anyone not able to access a ‘balanced’ diet
- Autumn and winter make gaining the benefit from the sun’s rays much harder in this part of the Western Hemisphere, meaning Vitamin D absorption may not be as high as desired. The NHS recommends a daily supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D for everyone
- Vitamins B and vitamin D absorption becomes more difficult as we age so supplementation can help people aged 60+
- Children up to 5 years of age are recommended to take a daily supplement of vitamins A, C, and D to give extra assistance in forming healthy bones and fighting viruses
What if you have a serious vitamin deficiency?
If you’re very low in key vitamins as the result of illness, surgery, or lifestyle challenges, then intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) therapy at our clinic can help. All our vitamin solutions are carefully prepared by medical professionals and loved by celebrities, elite athletes, and hardworking executives in the UK and abroad.
Our patients love how great they feel after an IV therapy session They report feeling instantly refreshed, replenished, and rejuvenated as they emerge from our IV Vitamin Therapy treatment.