If you’ve found your way to the KOR Blog, it’s because you care about your wellness. You’re most likely someone who’s interested in creating a complete and holistic routine for yourself, which includes vitamin supplementation.
Of course, not all supplements are built equally, and some are absorbed more readily by the body than others. Because we’re always looking to get the most out of our supplements, we decided to do some quick research into vitamin absorption.
To help us learn more about vitamin absorption, we got in touch with Naturopathic Doctor, Nicole Lewis (@drnicolelewis). Her background and experience make her the perfect source to answer the toughest questions about vitamin supplementation.
Ready to learn all things vitamin absorption? Dr. Nicole weighs in:
Tell us a little about yourself and your wellness background. What makes you an expert in vitamin absorbability?
First things first – my name is Nicole! I’m a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, meaning I attended a four year accredited naturopathic medical school.
During naturopathic medical school, we studied all the same biomedical sciences taught at a traditional medical school, with additional instruction in natural and integrative treatments. The training included a strong emphasis on disease prevention and wellness.
Since graduating, I've spent the past six years helping patients optimize their health, with understanding and implementing vitamin therapy at the core.
What is vitamin absorbability?
Vitamins are divided into two main categories: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Water soluble vitamins include vitamin C and B vitamins.
The small intestine is responsible for the absorption of nutrients from our food, and these vitamins are absorbed at different places along the small intestine and have different requirements.
Fat soluble vitamins must be emulsified in order to be absorbed and require the input of pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver and gallbladder.
Water soluble vitamins are absorbed by passive diffusion throughout the small intestine, and the large intestine has the ability to reuptake vitamins that are synthesized by the gut flora.
Bioavailability is the amount of a substance that is absorbed and available to be used by the body. If you take X amount of a substance, it does not mean that X amount will also be available to be absorbed and used. Studies are still being done to understand the absorption and bioavailability of nutrients from whole foods.
What is the benefit to getting vitamins directly from the source versus traditional pill/tablet vitamins?
The benefit to getting vitamins directly from food sources is all of the other things that come along with it. For example, if you are wanting to eat carrots for their vitamin A content, you'll also be getting fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. Natural sources provide macro and micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals.Tablets and some pills will naturally have other things added to the vitamins for stabilization and preservation.
Are gummy vitamins actually good for you?
I don't like to classify things as "good" vs "bad". There are different things to consider with gummy vitamins. If a person (a child, for instance) is not able to swallow capsules and/or is unwilling to take a liquid due to taste, a gummy may be a good option for their supplementation.
Things to consider with gummy vitamins are the sugar content and added ingredients. The question is: do the pros outweigh the cons?
Interestingly, a 2019 study showed that vitamin D3 gummies had a higher bioavailability than tablets with a higher vitamin D concentration.
What are liposomal vitamins?
Liposomal vitamins are vitamins that have been bound to a liposome, a lipid bilayer. This is typically done to speed up the absorption of nutrients which typically have a slow absorption rate.
What are some tactics for maximizing vitamin absorption?
Understanding which vitamins are fat soluble versus water soluble is helpful to start.
Fat soluble vitamins are better absorbed when taken or eaten with fatty foods. Iron is better absorbed with vitamin C.
Also, knowing what inhibits or slows absorption can be helpful too, such as acid blockers interfering with absorption of B12 from food.
What vitamins do you find to be most important for everyday health? Why?
Really all vitamins are important, so that's a hard question to answer.
It’s kind of a running joke that any time you ask an ND something, they will say "it depends". Within the Naturopathic medical model, we tend to focus on the individual. Each person has different specific nutrient requirements.
If I had a patient that was vegan or vegetarian, I would say it’s important for them to focus on nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and choline, because they are more likely to be deficient in those. If I have a patient that is genetically set up to have poor or slow absorption of vitamin B12, folate, or vitamin D, I would encourage them to focus on those.
What natural sources do you recommend for getting daily vitamins?
My best general recommendation is to "eat the rainbow." The different colors of fruits and vegetables are higher in different vitamins and minerals. If we can eat lots of colors, we are likely to meet our basic nutrient needs.
What are the advantages to getting your vitamins through cold-pressed juices and juice shots?
Cold pressed juices are typically more fresh, which preserves the vitamins and minerals while also avoiding added sugars. They also taste good! Juices and juice shots can be a good starting place for people that are wanting to add more fruits and vegetables into their diet.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The most important thing to really maximize vitamin absorption is to optimize gut function. When your gut is healthy, it’s better able to absorb the nutrients you need.
At KOR, our nutritional boosts are packed with healthy vitamins and minerals and no added sugars. Each shot is bottled to preserve freshness, so you can get the most out of every all-natural ingredient. Check out the following formulas for an extra vitamin-punch:
Intense Defense: with 100% of your daily value of zinc and 235% of your daily vitamin D
Potent-C: delivering 50% of your daily vitamin C
Green Up: with wheatgrass and spirulina, great sources of iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C, E, and B complex.
Gut Check: For optimizing your gut for better vitamin absorbability
Supplement your wellness with KOR!