How to Absorb Vitamins Better by Using the Right Form

By Kathleen M. McCoy

Are you absorbing the nutrients your body needs to thrive? Do you wonder how to absorb vitamins better from the foods you eat and the supplements you take? You aren’t alone. The hype surrounding foods and supplements has never been more pronounced, and the American diet has never been under more scrutiny.  

What’s missing in all of the buzz is a discussion about the importance of the absorption of vitamins and the absorption of nutrients the human body requires for proper immune system functioning, digestion, bone health, cognitive function, thyroid health, and general wellness. And we aren’t talking about taking gummy vitamins vs. pills.  

When we lose sight of the nutrients our bodies need, deficiencies occur  especially when we opt to follow a diet that restricts specific food groups. Plant-based diets, low-carb diets, and high-fat/carb restricted diets can all cause nutritional shortfalls without vitamin supplementation.  

Even with all of the diet and exercise trends, obesity and related diseases continue to push upward toward epidemic levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that obesity now affects over one-third of adults in the United States.[1]  

But obesity isn't the only problem; many of us aren’t getting enough nutrients through our diet. If we aren’t getting enough vital nutrients, we must learn how to absorb vitamins better with the partnering of synergistic nutrients and through high-quality supplements. The form of your supplement is also critical for vitamin absorption. While you may be most familiar with vitamins in the form of tablets, pills, and powders, these forms contain larger particles that are difficult to digest. Read on to learn more about what vitamins do for your body and why the form of vitamins you take is so important.  

How Do Vitamins Help Your Body? 

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, Americans don’t get enough calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D.[2] These deficiencies and others may contribute to chronic health conditions including anemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, thyroid disease, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. When you consider how to help your body absorb nutrients and to combat nutritional deficiencies, it is crucial to address your diet and supplement it as necessary to avoid shortfalls.  

If you’ve never taken a vitamin or mineral supplement, you are likely wondering if they are really necessary. The truth is if you have a digestive disorder or avoid certain food groups, the chances are high that you aren’t getting the nutritional combinations that you need. Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and other phytonutrients are the building blocks, energy boosters, and disease-fighting elements the body needs to function. Let’s take a closer look at seven vitamins and minerals and how they contribute to wellness. 

1. Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is central to eye health, immune function, cell growth and health, and reproduction. The leading cause of preventable blindness in young children is vitamin A deficiency.[3] If you’re pregnant and you ask your doctor “what vitamins should I take?,” vitamin A will likely be at the top of the list.  

Be sure to follow the directions provided by the supplement manufacturer on how to take multivitamins to avoid stomach upset and nausea. A vitamin A deficiency also increases the mortality risk of infections, particularly measles and diarrhea.[4] 

2.  B Vitamins 

The B vitamins are essential for converting carbohydrates and glucose into energy, supporting skin, eye, and digestive health, producing red blood cells and hormones, influencing brain processes, mental ability, and stabilizing moods.[5] A deficiency in one or more of the B vitamins increases your risk of certain health problems including anemia, fatigue, and difficulty thinking.[6] 

A note about vitamin B12: If you eat a plant-based diet, you have an increased risk of deficiency as many vitamin B12-rich foods are animal based. Be sure to eat foods as part of a well-balanced diet that includes an abundance of healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And remember taking vitamins is important to protect against a vitamin B12 shortfall and severe vitamin B12 deficiency that could cause nerve damage, confusion, or dementia.[7] 

3. Vitamin C 

The human body can’t produce the water-soluble vitamin C, so we must get it from food or supplements. Vitamin C is necessary for protein metabolism, wound healing, collagen production, and it is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals.  

When humans don’t get enough vitamin C, scurvy can occur leading to general malaise and fatigue as well as joint pain and depression.[8] If you have anemia, drink a glass of orange juice or take a vitamin C supplement when you eat iron-rich foods to increase the bioavailability of iron.[9] 

4. Vitamin D 

Do you spend at least 20 minutes a day in the sunshine? If not, you are at an increased risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin the human body can produce  but only when we expose our skin to the sun. Having a vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of asthma in children as well as increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and specific types of cancer.  

Not having enough vitamin D in reserve may also contribute to cognitive impairment in older adults, gluten intolerance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even multiple sclerosis.[10] The “sunshine vitamin” is essential for bone health because it helps the body process and use calcium. When you don’t get enough vitamin D from supplements, foods, or the sun, you may start to experience muscle weakness and bone pain.  

5. Calcium 

Calcium is required to maintain and build healthy bone. Our teeth and bones store most of the calcium in our body, but this mineral is also key for muscle health and it is required to release hormones that support organs and tissues throughout the body.[11]  

Calcium deficiency can cause low bone mass and increase the risk of osteoporosis. As the deficiency worsens, you may experience abnormal heart rhythms, convulsions, and numbness or tingling in your extremities.  

6. Potassium 

Potassium is essential for heart health, bone and muscle strength, and healthy blood pressure levels. If you get enough potassium each day, the risk of stroke decreases. Potassium helps to regulate the fluids in the body and controls certain actions of the muscles, including the heart.  

According to a clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, less than 2 percent of adults in the United States get enough potassium every day.[12] Low levels of potassium in your bloodstream may cause arrhythmias, weakness, fatigue, constipation, and muscle cramps.[13] 

7. Magnesium 

Researchers estimate that approximately half of the United States adult population doesn’t consume enough magnesium every day. Magnesium deficiencies are linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and a variety of metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes.  

Magnesium also plays a vital role in the absorption of other key nutrients including calcium and vitamin D.[14] The synergy between magnesium and vitamin D is interesting as the bioavailability of magnesium is quite low, but research shows vitamin D can increase magnesium absorption significantly.[15]  

Vitamins and the Digestive System 

When you look into how to absorb vitamins better into your system, so they reach the systemic circulation stage, it is vital to understand how vitamins are broken down and absorbed by the body. The first step in digestion begins with chewing and the introduction of saliva.  

After swallowing, the food moves to the stomach where stomach acids and gut bacteria break the food into easily digested particles. Finally, these particles move to the small intestine where the vitamins and other nutrients are absorbed. After the nutrients are absorbed, the remaining particles pass on to the large intestine.  

Individuals with digestive disorders and individuals with low stomach acid can have a difficult time absorbing nutrients from food and supplements. No two digestive systems are alike, and each system has its idiosyncrasies and challenges. If you have digestive problems and take a digestive enzyme regularly to speed digestion, learning how to absorb vitamins better is essential to your gut health. You may need to switch to a vitamin supplement formulated with small particles for best results.  

Why Is Vitamin Absorption Important 

Where are vitamins absorbed? Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, with some nutrients metabolizing in the liver. Prolonged nutritional deficiencies can cause significant health challenges including fatigue, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and many more.  

One of the difficulties with many of today’s popular diets is the strict limitation or total avoidance of certain food groups. For example, avoiding whole grains could contribute to deficient levels of the B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, eating whole grains contributes to better overall health and a reduction in inflammation-related conditions, a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality, and a reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes.[16]  

If you elect to remove food groups from your diet, you must add vitamins and minerals you are missing with a high-quality supplement formulated with bioavailable nutrients.  

What Is Bioavailability of Vitamins? 

In the simplest of terms, the bioavailability of vitamins is the proportion of the nutrient that the body can use. The bioavailability score is often significantly less than the dose, or the calculated amount of the nutrient in a food or a supplement.[17] In supplements, poor bioavailability can be caused by nutrient particles that are too large, or because of synthetic fillers, anti-caking agents, coatings, and other elements that interfere with absorption.  

Specific nutrients may have poor bioavailability unless partnered with another nutrient — for example, turmeric and black pepper. Turmeric has poor bioavailability unless it is taken with piperine, a compound found in black pepper that increases the bioavailability of turmeric by 2,000 percent.[18] This striking synergistic relationship between black pepper and turmeric isn’t the only example. As noted above, vitamin D and magnesium also need each other to be adequately absorbed by the body.  

How to Absorb Vitamins Better With MICROGEL 

Learning how to absorb vitamins better for your specific needs may require a change of diet and a change in the supplements you take. What are the best vitamins to take? If you struggle with nutrient absorption, one of the best options is a supplement formulated to have ultra-bioavailability like MICROGEL™️. For example, Bioactive Multi by Healthycell, which uses MICROGEL technology, contains 21 essential vitamins and minerals, 11 phytonutrients, and three prebiotics.  

MICROGEL has micro-sized nutrient particles small enough that the small intestine can absorb the nutrients quickly into the bloodstream. The nutrients are suspended in an easy-to-swallow gel that contains prebiotics, soluble fiber, and pectin from citrus fruits. What MICROGEL doesn’t include is just as important. Fillers like guar gum that are common in other gel nutrient supplements limit the bioavailability of the vitamins and minerals. 

A Quick Recap on How to Absorb Vitamins Better 

  • Nutritional deficiencies can be caused by an imbalanced diet, digestive diseases, and poor bioavailability of nutrients in over-the-counter supplements.  

  • Most nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine. 

  • The factors that affect the bioavailability in supplements of vitamins include the physical size of the nutrient particles and the added fillers. 

  • It's difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from vitamins in the form of tablets, pills, and powders because the particles are too big to digest easily. 

  • Vitamins and minerals contribute to our health and may protect us against certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, anxiety, depression, and more.  

  • Learning how to absorb vitamins better and how to take supplements must become a priority, especially if we are restricting or limiting certain food groups.  

  • Nutritional supplements often contain fillers, and they are formulated with large particles that make absorption of the vitamins and minerals difficult.