When you’ve been prescribed nutritional supplements, you want to make the most of them, so they can do the most for you. But some people are taking their supplements in a way that prevents their absorption from their digestive system to their bloodstream. And this could mean the difference between getting a result from your nutritional treatment, or not.
Here’s a routine that may be familiar to you: Lining up your nutritional and fibre supplements on the kitchen bench before breakfast then taking them all at once. It has become a familiar practice that ensures you remember to take them. Then you sit down to a high fibre breakfast that includes a of tea.
So what’s wrong with that? Lets look at what can get in the way, particularly in the case of mineral supplements.
Your body has natural mechanisms in place to make sure you don’t absorb too much of any particular nutrient all at once; or that more of a especially needed nutrient is absorbed. (For example, when your body believes it needs more zinc, perhaps to boost your immunity, it instructs your bowel cells to make zinc absorption a priority over other minerals like iron).
- Sometimes nutrients can’t get through because there’s a lack of available enzymes and carrier molecules to transport nutrients across your bowel wall into your bloodstream.
- Sometimes individual minerals must compete for the available transporter molecules. (For example, iron and zinc compete for absorption; so do calcium and magnesium.)
Whichever way your body chooses to handle them, only a certain amount of the nutrients you ingest will get in; the rest will travel out of your body, wasted. This is one reason why some supplement labels advise you to take small frequent doses rather than one mega-dose. The manufacturers know that more will get in that way.
Because your body has built-in mechanisms to ensure a balanced mineral uptake, its important not to take large doses of ‘competing’ minerals at the one time.
Some natural food substances like to bind minerals to them, and won’t let go. That means your body can’t access those minerals at all. Tannin in tea is one of them. So if your morning routine includes making a pot of tea, arrange to take your supplements a few hours later. Fibre supplements like Psyllium husks can interfere with absorption too.
Some people who eat an extremely high fibre diet, like vegans, can be at risk of mineral deficiency as the high amount of phytates and oxalates in the fibre can bind too many minerals to them before they can be absorbed.
By the way, the absorption and effectiveness of some medications can be affected by fibre supplements too; check with your practitioner.
If you’re unsure whether you’re taking your nutritional supplements effectively, check with your health practitioner who prescribed them for you.