Generally, we should get all the necessary nutrients directly from nature - so why is this not always the case?
We no longer live the lives of our ancestors whose lifestyle did not exhaust vitamin and mineral supplies from our earth and our bodies. Conventional agricultural hyper-production methods cause depletion of earth's important substances and this is reflected in the deficit of those substances in our diet. The same vegetables grown several decades ago had higher nutrient concentration compared to today. Nowadays, consumption of fresh vegetables is still considered to be the most important step towards health, but it is useful to support ourselves, in case of nutrient shortage, with supplements or improving their absorption.
Our lifestyle, which is often stressful, further depletes our supplies of vitamins and minerals (e.g. high cortisol exhausts magnesium levels).
If we use food supplements, it is important that we support their absorption with proper intake. The quantity and combination of nutrients, time of taking them, and their effects on existing drugs, are the most important factors. All this affects absorption efficiency. We always need to know why we take a certain product, so we can use it efficiently and avoid spending money on it unnecessarily, and last but not least, avoid harming ourselves.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are to be eaten together with fat, as these are only soluble in fat. Therefore, we take them as needed before or after a fatty meal or with omega 3 supplements.
Take vitamin D or K with calcium, as both vitamins increase calcium absorption.
We do not take zinc and copper together, as they compete for the same receptors.
Probiotics improve the absorption of nutrients from food as well as from food supplements.
The consumption of a large amount of one mineral due to the lack of it blocks the absorption of other minerals. Mineral supplements should be taken one by one at a time interval.
The same applies to large doses of fat-soluble vitamins, as they are also competing to absorb other fat-soluble vitamins. If we need large doses, we take them at intervals.
Vitamin D is not recommended to take later at night as it may reduce melatonin synthesis.
Incorrect storage of supplements reduces their effectiveness. Proper storage of probiotics is important to keep them alive. Vitamins, too, are losing their potency by exposure to oxygen, sunlight and higher temperatures.
Signs that we are lacking some nutrients can vary greatly. Pay attention to any signs such as brittle hair and nails, dry and irritated skin, unexplained pain, and to emotions such as chronic fatigue, irritability, and insomnia. It is recommended that all vitamins and minerals in our body be tested once a year, even if we feel good. Many deficits are reflected in the way we feel only when the body experiences a severe shortage. We can run vitamin and mineral tests from blood, saliva, or with hair analysis. In order to consult and interpret the results, we should always refer to a nutritionist who will be able to give us systematic advice.
It is good to know, that sometimes, despite a whole-food diet and potential addition of micronutrients, people still lack certain micronutrients in their cells. For example; blood tests show that you lack vitamin B12 despite consuming adequate amounts of it. We can conclude that the vitamin is not being absorbed. One possible explanation is that our stomach is too basic, and vitamin B12, like many others, needs an adequate amount of stomach acid. Intake of great amounts of some supplement, in this case, will not help. In such a case, we need to determine why it is not being absorbed since the right values of micro-nutrients can be balanced with changing of some habits (e.g. eating less sugar for better performance of vitamin C or regulating body pH to improve the absorption of vitamin B12).
Often, our cells are also saturated with waste matter and are unable to absorb any new nutrients required. It is important to visit a naturopathic doctor or any other nutritionist with a holistic approach to get an individual consultation. An individual approach, based on the examination, is necessary to address such a problem as effectively as possible.
One of the effective methods of analysis is a mineralogram which tells us in detail which minerals simply fail to enter the cell. On the basis of the mineralogram and complete examination, an expert will be able to prescribe the use of probiotics, herbs, oligotherapy, etc., which may consequently affect better nutrient absorption.
We must always have a holistic, systematic, and individual approach to all aspects of health to optimize overall well-being in the most effective way.