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www.jashbotanicals.com \\ articles \ You Are What You Eat, Or What You Absorb?
mercury amalgam controversy


Absorbing Nutrients

Everybody seems to think it is easy. Gobble up lots of fruits and veggies, and maybe take a vitamin/mineral supplement, and then you will realize the health benefits—a longer, healthier life.

Guess what? It is not that simple, according to numerous doctors who specialize in nutrition. You are not just what you put into your mouth, and nor are you the supplements you take. According to the specialists—you are what you ABSORB.

Have you ever wondered if the foods you consume or the supplements you take are in fact reaching all the cells in your body? Well, one way would be to be aware of how you feel, however, this may not give you the whole picture. Illnesses may progress over time, while subtle symptoms go unnoticed.

There are some advocates that claim there is an additional and more precise way to establish whether you are absorbing the nutrients in your foods and supplements—getting tested. According to them, it will cost you some money and a little blood, but there are three important benefits to these tests. First, you get a picture of your nutrient levels so you know whether you require supplements or higher dosages. Second, if you are lucky enough to be eating a balanced diet and/or supplementing, a deficit on the results will suggest that, for some reason, your nutrient absorption is sorely lacking. And lastly, you will have a baseline for future comparison. I called some of these labs, and I am not 100% sure that testing will show what has been absorbed by the cell. Sure, it will show how much vitamin B is your blood, but what about how much has been absorbed by the cell itself?




Nutrient Deficiencies and Your Health

There is a good chance that you are deficient in at least one nutrient. People who are sick are almost always deficient in something. As a matter of fact, 90% of the people who go to a doctor and are in relatively good health have, at the very least, one nutrient deficiency. A perfect example was a woman who suffered from severe fatigue and assorted problems which included her nails falling out. She went to doctor after doctor and no one could tell her what was wrong. She then went to see a doctor who discovered that her levels of vitamin C were virtually undetectable. After she supplemented her diet with high-potency C, her energy levels increased and she began healing within a few weeks.

The doctor she went to pointed out that blood tests are a window to the inner mechanism of your body. You can take two people and give them the same supplement, but one will absorb it and the other may not. Testing will clearly show the difference, and not just for sick people. Being healthy would actually be the best time to get tested. Charles Thomas, PhD, a research director for Pantox Laboratories, who analyzes blood levels of antioxidants for doctors all over the country, says, “That way, you can identify a problem before it becomes a serious problem, and take corrective action.”

There are many doctors, who practice nutritional medicine, who believe that these low nutrient levels would ultimately lead to health problems. According to them, without testing, you would be unaware that you have a problem with certain nutrients until, perhaps, outward symptoms appear. The question is, why would someone come up short in certain nutrients but not others? What’s more, why would one person absorb nutrients from their food and supplements better than the next person? The answer rests in what the above nutritional doctors call your biochemical or nutritional individuality. This distinctiveness is decided by a large number of variables that range from diet to stress levels to even genetics.

How about this for an example: One in three French Canadians and One in seven Irish women are unable to properly utilize folic acid, a B vitamin, due to genetics. Or, how about the possibility that gastrointestinal ailments may also influence nutrient absorption. Some research has shown that different nutrients are absorbed at assorted places along the intestinal wall. Candida yeast infections and parasites may generate localized inflammation and restrict nutrient absorption. In addition, an estimated 30% of adults over the age 65 are suffering from atrophic gastritis—basically, atrophied stomachs—which also restricts nutrient absorption.

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also culprits in the interference of absorption:

  • One such example would be oral contraceptives, which lowers your vitamin E levels.

  • Acetaminophen, which lowers antioxidants on the whole.

  • Antibiotics, which decreases absorption of the B vitamins and various minerals.


A Few Useful Tips to Improve Your Chances of Better Absorbtion

Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate your biochemical individuality, but there are avenues to assist your body make the most of the nutrients you take in. Here are a few pointers that will help you in that quest.

  • First of all, your food augments the absorption of supplements, so please take them with your meals. This is particularly critical with fat-soluble antioxidants, which include vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, and coenzyme Q10. The aforementioned supplements need a little fat or oil for absorption. Hey—that does not denote a big fatty piece of meat! You can even use a spoonful of coconut oil or peanut butter for the oil.

  • Second, don’t eat like it is not a priority. Sit down and eat your meals in a somewhat calm setting. When you are not subjected to added stress, you will enjoy your food more and at the same time your nutrients are better absorbed.

  • Antioxidants work in unison, so it is best to take them together. In fact, research has discovered that when the combination of several antioxidants are taken, they are together more potent than just one or two of them. So, for example, if you took vitamin C, E, coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid, they will reinforce each other and lengthen the time that they are utilized in the body.

  • Taking a digestive aid is also helpful. People are all different when it comes to manufacturing stomach acid. The ones that manufacture the most digestive juices are obviously the one who will be the better absorbers than those who make less. There are several digestive aids that you can use. Papaya enzymes, herbal bitters, betaine-hydrochloride, pepsin are just a few and can be purchased at your local health foot store. In addition, taking a probiotic with beneficial bacteria will also cultivate a healthy digestive tract.

  • Let’s talk about bile. Bile is a digestive juice secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder and aids in the digestion of fats. Poor bile production encumbers absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants. Taking some omega-3 fatty acids will take care of this problem.

Ok, I think I have covered most of it with the exception of using capsules instead of tablets. Why?—capsules release their contents quicker than tablets do. If you wish more information on testing, you can read more about it on this site:


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