Investing in your health by taking quality supplements is one of the best decisions you can make. Now that you’ve decided on what supplements to take, how do you get the most benefit? The type of supplement you take, the time of day and medications can all influence just how much active ingredients your body can absorb. You can ensure you are getting the most value from your vitamins and supplements by following a few simple guidelines.
What is Bioavailability?
Bioavailability refers to how much of a nutrient is available to be absorbed by the body. Our bodies are designed to protect us from foreign, potentially dangerous substances. Sometimes it can do its job a little too well, preventing nutrients that we would like to take in from being absorbed. A good example of this is testosterone supplements. There are many products on the market that contain testosterone, but oral testosterone has low bioavailability and is poorly absorbed by the body. A better route to increasing testosterone is to use an adaptogenic herb like Tribulus terrestris, found in Nature's Lab Tribulux Max, that promotes healthy hormone levels in the body.* The bioavailability of a product is just one of several factors that can determine how beneficial a supplement is. There are certain steps you can take to increase the bioavailability of your supplements.
How Does Piperine Increase Bioavailability?
Bioenhancers are supplements or medications that temporarily inhibit barriers to absorption. For instance, our digestive system uses glucuronic acid to remove chemicals from our bodies. Black pepper extract also known as piperine is a powerful bioenhancer. Black pepper extract can lessen the effect of glucuronic acid, allowing for greater absorption.
Another important factor involved in metabolizing what we consume is P-glycoprotein. P-glycoprotein is another protective mechanism our body uses, but it can reduce absorption of supplements and medications. Piperine appears to decrease the activity of P-glycoprotein so that more of a nutrient can be utilized by our body.
Black pepper extract increases absorption of turmeric and a variety of other nutrients. One study showed that piperine increased the absorption of CoQ10, selenium, vitamin C and beta carotene by a minimum of 30 percent. This combination of piperine, CoQ10, selenium and vitamin C are found in our One Daily Multivitamin. Piperine is not the only natural supplement that can increase bioavailability. Researchers have found that ginger, aloe vera and flavonoids can promote enhanced absorption of many diverse nutrients.
Factors that Influence Vitamin Bioavailability
When purchasing supplements there are three main factors to consider.
Molecule Size: The smaller the nutritional element, the easier it is to absorb. If you see a term like “hydrolyzed” on a label this means the nutrient has been broken down into smaller, easier to absorb pieces. Nature's Lab Gold Turmeric + Joint Complex contains hydrolyzed type II collagen to optimize the benefit of this ingredient within the formula.*
Bioenhancers: In general, most herbs and supplements can be readily absorbed by our digestive system on their own. However, in some cases a bioenhancer can make a significant difference in the bioavailability of a nutrient. Turmeric or curcumin is often paired with piperine which can increase its absorption by up to 2000 percent. Nature's Lab Turmeric Extract with Curcumin C3 Complex and BioPerine is an ideal combination for enhanced absorption. BioPerine is a standardized form of piperine that has been included in this formula for increased absorption.
Supplement Form: If you want to take a supplement like magnesium, you’ll quickly find that there are many different types of the same mineral. Magnesium Glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that is attached to an amino acid for enhanced absorption in comparison to standard magnesium oxide.* Similarly, zinc, vitamin C, iron and many other nutrients have different forms. You’ll want to make sure your supplement choice uses a form that has a high rate of bioavailability.
How Can I Enhance Vitamin and Mineral Absorption?
Most supplements can be categorized into two types: water soluble and fat soluble. Fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin K are best taken with a meal or a supplement that contains fat, like fish oil. Water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins are best absorbed on an empty stomach but ultimately they can be taken with or without food.* For multivitamins that contain a mix of water and fat soluble vitamins, take them with your meal. Enzyme supplements can help break down food efficiently which leads to greater intake of their beneficial nutritional value.* There is some evidence that enzymes may promote better absorption of supplements as well.* Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples that is often paired with quercetin to increase its absorption.* This duo is found in Nature’s Lab Quercetin with Bromelain. For increased digestive support Nature's Lab Enzym Balance contains 16 enzymes, ginger and aloe vera leaf powder.*
What Increases Iron Bioavailability?
Many take a separate iron supplement to treat iron-related deficiencies. This mineral is best absorbed on an empty stomach, but if it causes too much irritation, you can take it with food. Although this will decrease some of the absorption, it is more important to be able to continue taking it without added discomfort. Carbonyl iron is gentler on the stomach than salt-based forms of iron such as ferrous sulfate and ferrous fumarate, plus it has a higher bioavailability.
For iron supplements the most important tip to remember is iron and calcium don’t mix. If you are trying to increase your iron levels, don’t take it with a glass of milk since the calcium will compete with iron for absorption. Instead, reach for a glass of orange juice since the vitamin C in orange juice can help enhance absorption of this mineral.* You can also opt for a supplement that combines gentle carbonyl iron and vitamin C like Nature's Lab Iron Plus Vitamin C Fast Melt Tablets.
Flavonoids, Lipids and Vitamin Absorption
Citrus bioflavonoids include compounds like naringin from grapefruit, or rutin and hesperidin found in lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits. These substances are not only potent antioxidants but they may increase the absorption of supplements, particularly vitamin C.* You can benefit from the antioxidants and bioavailability of bioflavonoids with Nature's Lab Super Vitamin C. This formula includes citrus bioflavonoids and quercetin to enhance the body’s uptake of vitamin C and further boost its antioxidant properties.* Vitamin C absorption can also be increased by encasing it inside of a lipid.* A lipid is basically a fat which is easily absorbed in the digestive tract. Nature's Lab Liposomal PureWay-C® Vitamin C uses this unique technology in its formula.
Which Supplements Can Interact with Medications?
If you take blood thinning medication make sure your doctor knows what type of supplements you are taking. Individuals on blood thinners should be careful with vitamin E and fish oil which can thin the blood and vitamin K which can enhance clotting. Consult your physician about any supplements to rule out any possible interference with your blood thinning medication. The herb St. John’s Wort can interact with antibiotics and anti-anxiety medications and should be avoided if you take any medication that falls in that category. St. John’s Wort actually increases the activity of P-glycoprotein. P-glycoprotein helps remove foreign agents from the body, which is why this herbal supplement can reduce the effectiveness of many medications. If you take medication that reduces stomach acid this can also decrease the absorption of your supplements.
The Best Way to Increase Supplement Absorption
The number one thing you can do to maximize your supplements is to not take them all at one time. If you can spread your supplement intake out throughout the day it gives your digestive system more time to process and absorb the nutrients. For this reason we recommend getting the most from our Six Daily Multivitamin by taking two capsules with breakfast, two with lunch and another two at dinner. You can follow a similar plan with your supplements. If you are taking energizing supplements such as Nature's Lab Green Tea Extract or Alpha Lipoic Acid 600 mg take these earlier in the day instead of with dinner or before bedtime. Making these simple changes will help you get the most from your supplement routine.*
Kesarwani, K., Gupta, R., &; Mukerjee, A. (2013, April). Bioavailability enhancers of herbal origin: An overview. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634921/
Tribulus terrestris. Tribulus terrestris - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2020). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/tribulus-terrestris
Cleveland Clinic. (2021, April 26). The best time to take vitamins. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-time-to-take-vitamins/
BioPerine®. (2021, May 13). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://bioperine.com/aboutbioperine/
Tips for taking vitamins. American Bone Health. (2019, June 18). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://americanbonehealth.org/nutrition/tips-for-taking-vitamins/
WebMD. (n.d.). Best ways to take different vitamins. WebMD. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/ss/slideshow-best-ways-to-take-different-vitamins
MedicineNet. (2021, December 3). What vitamins should not be taken together? MedicineNet. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.medicinenet.com/what_vitamins_should_not_be_taken_together/article.htm
Pillans, P., &; Finch , A. (n.d.). P-glycoprotein and its role in Drug-Drug Interactions. NPS MedicineWise. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.nps.org.au/australian-prescriber/articles/p-glycoprotein-and-its-role-in-drug-drug-interactions
Hennessy, M., Kelleher, D., Spiers, J. P., Barry, M., Kavanagh, P., Back, D., Mulcahy, F., &; Feely, J. (2002, January). St johns wort increases expression of P-glycoprotein: Implications for drug interactions. British journal of clinical pharmacology. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11849198/
Quercetin. Quercetin - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/quercetin
Tribulus terrestris. Tribulus terrestris - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/tribulus-terrestris
Goodson, A. (2018, July 4). Why turmeric and black pepper is a powerful combination. Healthline. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-and-black-pepper