Vitamin absorption

This Week In The HSI Healthier Talk Community

If you’ve ever popped 500 mg of vitamin C and wondered if you body actually absorbs the full dose, you’re not alone.

An HSI member who goes by Spongehead in the Healthier Talk community forums, begins a thread titled “Vitamin Absorption” with this Posting: “I have never read about anybody preparing vitamins by breaking them down and dissolving them like, in vinegar or pineapple juice or other enzymes before swallowing them. Would this help the body absorb them? Especially the vitamins and minerals that are difficult to absorb? Any information like this out there?”

Leppert: “It might destroy some of the vitamins so I’d think it would be better to simply take some digestive enzymes with one’s food & vitamins. This is particularly true for those hitting middle aged and older, especially if one gets ‘acid indigestion’ easily.”

Lioness: “Your best bet is to forget tablets and take vitamin and mineral supplements in liquid form – your body absorbs WAY more in liquid form.”

Harry: “You shouldn’t have any trouble absorbing highly bioavailable forms of vitamins and minerals. For instance, even in the elderly, calcium citrate (usually taken in capsule or tablet form) is well absorbed whereas calcium carbonate is generally not.

“Many people prefer capsules but tablets produced and tested (for dissolution) are just fine. In some instances, liquid forms of vitamins and minerals may be a good alternative but keep in mind that these are more expensive, usually sweetened (naturally or artificially), preserved (naturally or artificially) and contain less nutrients per serving (most of the volume of these supplements is water), etc., etc.

“Also, I’ve yet to see much proof that suspending combinations of nutrients in liquids doesn’t lead to some sort of degradation or alteration of these nutrients – thereby affecting their potency and efficacy.

“Having said all that, my wife is currently using liquid supplements but this is only because she has such a hard time swallowing pills (of any kind) and doesn’t like the taste of any powder she’s tried. And let me tell you, it would be a heck of a lot easier and healthier if she could take pills. It’s quite difficult to put together a well-round, all liquid, holistic protocol.

“I agree that enzymes should help with your overall digestion and absorption of all nutrients (macro and micro) that you get from your food and probably your supplements. I don’t think you need to physically combine the enzymes with the nutrients to get the intended effect though.

“One final option is to try a ‘pre-digested’ multi-nutrient product – like those produced by New Chapter or Garden or Life (to name but a few). They claim that through a fermentation process, absorption of nutrients is increased and that a bunch of naturally occurring by-products are brought about (by this process) that are health promoting.”

We’ll give the final word to HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., who offered this comment in the e-Alert “The Multi-Tasker” (10/22/04): “There are a few (read that a FEW) pill forms that break down quickly, but they are rare. I always use capsule, powder or liquid forms whenever possible, as they at least guarantee that the individual gets what he swallows (whether the dose is adequate is another issue).”

Other topics being discussed this week in the Healthier Talk community forums include:

  • Cancer: Intravenous vitamin C and chemo
  • Allergies: Food allergies cause IBS
  • Depression: Bulimia
  • General Health Topics: Living will
  • Auto-Immune Diseases: Multiple sclerosis
  • Product Questions: Mangosteen juice or capsules

You can easily reach the HSI Healthier Talk community forums on our web site at Just choose “Forum,” and join in with any of the dozens of discussions about nutrition and natural health care.