How Supplements Work in the Body

Vitamins, minerals and trace minerals are as essential to the body as protein, carbohydrates and fats, in keeping you healthy and strong. If you are not getting enough from your diet, however, this is where taking supplements can be of benefit. But how exactly do they work in the body when we take them?
how supplements work in the body

Vitamins, minerals and trace minerals are as essential to the body as protein, carbohydrates and fats, in keeping you healthy and strong. If you are not getting enough from your diet, however, this is where taking supplements can be of benefit (although please do check with your doctor).  But how exactly do they work in the body when we take them?

Start With Good Digestion

Once you have swallowed your supplement, usually with food unless stated, it gets digested in the stomach in just the same way food does, with stomach acid there to give a friendly hand in accessing the contents of the supplement capsule, tablet or sachet.

When the digestion process occurs, blood is constantly flowing through tubes called capillaries in the intestines. It is these capillary tubes that pick up the nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals), other beneficial compounds and energy obtained from broken down and digested food using the bloodstream as the ‘pick up vehicle’.

This is why it is super important to optimise your digestion at all times, whether you want to digest nutrients from food or supplements, as both need a healthy digestive system to access the nutrients or compounds.

Your Body Has A Sophisticated Nutrient Transport System

After being picked up, the nutrients, energy and compounds are distributed to the body tissues that require them. This pretty sophisticated transport system allows nutrients, beneficial compounds and energy to get to bodily tissues much quicker than if you simply diffused them into the body. This is because there is often quite a distance between tissues and the environment for these tiny particles to reach!

Do Not Ignore Signs and Symptoms of a Deficiency

Having a vitamin and mineral deficiency is more common than people realise in the UK; even though we are a first-world developed country, sadly, most of the soil is deficient in nutrients, leaving our bodies the same.

Nutrient deficiencies can cause severe health consequences such as protein-energy malnutrition, scurvy, rickets, beriberi, hypocalcemia, osteomalacia, vitamin K deficiency, pellagra, xerophthalmia, and iron deficiency, to name a few.

How Do You Identify a Nutrient Deficiency?

If you are unsure if you have a nutrient deficiency, then talk to your doctor, who will listen to your symptoms, and run some tests to truly see and get good insight as to what is going on in your body. You can also purchase your own private tests from laboratories, but always do your homework first on these companies and only use reputable ones.

Sources

Ted-Ed: How Do Vitamins Work? Ginnie Trinh Nguyen
Capillary tubes and nutrient transportation
Sophisticated transport system
Nutrient deficiency-related deficiency or disease

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