Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nutrient Bioavailability

by Kris Pitcher

What the heck is bioavailability? Well, food conscious people have been looking to get the best nutrients from the most efficient forms. Like any nutritional choice, this is a very value laden topic.

Many people would prefer to get their nutrients, and we are talking about micro nutrients typically here, from their food only. This means they do not prefer taking a supplement to get their micro nutrients.

It's smart to try to get the majority of our vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat each day. There's nothing "wacky" going on in this ideology.

Now, because everything needs a name...this is called functional food. Right. It cracked me up too. Isn't all food functional? Anyway...

Bioavailability refers to the body's ability to use a nutrient. It's measured by how well a vitamin or mineral for example is digested, absorbed and how well it's distributed. It's also measured as to whether or not it's actually taken up by specific body tissues for use.

How we grow, process and store food all effect the bioavailability of its nutrients. Consider the soil it's grown in for example. If the soil is not rich in nutrients, the plant we are growing will not have those nutrients either.

The more highly processed foods are the more those vitamins and minerals are stripped away. The further that food travels from the farm to your table the longer it is exposed to light which diminishes the nutrients even more.

As we take into consideration our preparation methods, cooking brings some nutrients to life and destroys others. Nutrient combinations are necessary for absorption in some cases and diminish absorption in others. It's complex. It's a science.

The big picture take away is if you eat a wide variety of different colors of vegetable s and fruits daily, eat whole grains, lean proteins, dairy and healthy fats you are likely getting the nutrients required - in some areas.

Many of us do not eat a wide variety of food from the various groups and can benefit from a micro nutrient supplement. You can have blood work done to check your nutrient levels to determine if you should be supplementing or not. You can always check with your physician to determine guidance in this area.

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