As you know from our previous post on natural health products (NHPs), there are several benefits to using them for wellness. What’s equally important is bioavailability, the proportion of a drug or substance—such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, herbs, and amino acids—that circulates when it enters the body and has an active effect.
The oral bioavailability of a NHP is the amount of the ingested nutrient that reaches the blood in active form. Our body only distributes bioavailable nutrients to tissues or organs to have a real health benefit. You can also look at it as the level of absorption of the substance. Substances with higher bioavailability will distribute more nutrients to the areas of the body that need it.
In this blog, we discuss the importance of bioavailability in natural health products, so when you take NHPs, you can maximize your potential to prevent illnesses and increase your physical and mental performance.
Effects of poor bioavailability
Even though some NHPs are effective at addressing health concerns, the doses may be high, require a high frequency (three times a day), and have a long onset of action because of poor bioavailability. Tablets and hard or soft capsules are still the most common dietary supplements, but this is changing with ready-to-mix protein powders and new ingredients that can dissolve or disperse in water. People may be less inclined to stick to the required pill or capsule regimen, and consequently suffer from poor health.
Improving bioavailability can lead to better efficacy, faster onset of action, lower doses and improved user experience, leading to better patient health and business results from the NHP provider.
How to improve bioavailability
As you sleep, your digestive system slows, which is why nutrition experts recommend taking most supplements in the morning for best absorption. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.
The digestive system is essential to a supplement’s bioavailability, since this is where the absorption process takes place. Taking supplements with food stimulates digestion and boosts absorption, increasing bioavailability. So you may see “take with food” in the product’s instructions. Digestive health problems will affect the benefits you could receive from NHPs.
Unlike easily absorbed water-soluble supplements, with fat-soluble supplements, our body will store extra nutrients in the liver and fat tissues to be released when our body needs more of them. It’s important to drink liquids when taking water-soluble supplements.
It’s important to work toward good gut health. High stress levels can also disrupt your digestive system and prevent bioavailability of NHPs.
Also, ensure NHPs are tightly closed to avoid moisture. Keep them out of direct sunlight, as heat or humidity may make the products less effective. Some supplements may require refrigeration.
Innovations in natural health product bioavailability
New technologies and adaptations are being adopted in the nutraceutical and nutrition industries. Formulation development, including formulation stability and bioavailability performance, helps to support claims. One example is dispersion rather than emulsification of solids (powders), which provides high bioavailability and 90 percent delivery of the active ingredient.
Watch out for products that say “more bioavailable” or have similar statements on packaging without evidence of the claim. You can also research comparative bioavailability studies, which evaluate the pharmacokinetics of two NHP formulations on the market in healthy adult volunteers. This is useful to determine the properties of a NHP and whether a new product has the same bioavailability as the existing product.
Looking for bioavailable supplements is worth your time and effort. You won’t have to waste time wondering if your body is getting the vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients your body needs.
The compounds found in HAVN Life’s products are made from natural foods, including herbs and mushrooms. The problem is that the compounds occur in such small quantities that it is often not feasible to consume enough of the food to benefit from them. Also, ingredients may be seasonal and difficult to get consistently. For example, Most people cannot digest unprocessed mushrooms because they lack a stomach enzyme needed to break down chitin, a hard substance in mushrooms. Extracting the compounds from chitin in mushrooms is critical to making the compounds bioavailable. HAVN Life’s products are formulated to give reliable access to safe and effective products.