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Your Body Won’t Absorb Vitamin Supplements The Way You Think. Here’s Why

by Allison Stowell

Do you take vitamins?

Many people do, but the fact is that when it comes to vitamin absorption, our body prefers food over supplements.

That being said, if your diet is limited or if you require additional vitamins and minerals then you may want to find a supplement that helps you fill the gaps.


However, since the supplement industry is mostly unregulated under the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA), there is reason to be cautious and understand as much as possible before adding a vitamin to your daily regimen.

But with a little bit of homework, you can learn how to best absorb vitamins your body needs. Here’s some solid info to ensure that you’ll be healthy and strong!

Fat-Soluble Vs. Water-Soluble Vitamins

Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between fat-soluble and water soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the vitamin B-complex. People often choose to purchase mega doses of these supplements to swallow every day.

Related: 5 Big Benefits Of Drinking Water

What they don’t realize is that this is somewhat pointless; our bodies will only absorb a little of it and excrete the rest – and the supplements can be quite expensive!

When it comes to water-soluble vitamins, it is important to recognize how easily these nutrients are compromised in storage and cooking.

For example, over-cooked vegetables will become depleted of vitamin C, leading to only vitamin-rich cooking water…ew. Avoid this by limiting storage and monitoring cooking methods.

Related: 12 Ways You Can Eat Right On A Budget

2. Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are stored in our fatty tissue. With important functions and a variety of disease prevention roles, our fat-soluble vitamins are an important part of our diet.

Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins do not break down during cooking. They are not defined by the foods they are found in (i.e. carrots and cantaloupe in the case of vitamin A), but rather for the way they are best absorbed and stored.

It is for this reason that our fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed better when consumed with fats or oils such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

Related: 5 Benefits Of Eating Avocado

Please note that while a risk of toxicity exists with our fat-soluble vitamins, a well-balanced diet is not going to have this negative effect, because it will not likely exceed the “safe” limit for these vitamins.

Vitamins Have Friends

Yes, vitamins need friends too! Some vitamins work better when paired with other nutrients.

For example, when consumed together, vitamin D and calcium enable calcium to be better absorbed. Similarly, the effectiveness of vitamin E is enhanced when paired with vitamin C.

Form Of Supplement

While a balanced diet can provide all of the vitamins we need, some individuals may require a vitamin supplement. Any trip to the pharmacy will make it quite clear that there are a ton of different options to choose from, from liquid to gummies.

Related: 5 Natural Supplements To Help You Avoid Catching A Summer Cold

Generally speaking, whether an individual chooses a liquid, powder, pill, or even gummy supplement will depend on their unique needs and possibly their desire to avoid certain fillers or additional ingredients (such as sugar in gummy chews). Consider your needs and do your research before heading to the pharmacy.

The Takeaway

Whether you take a supplement or not, it’s important to understand how they work in your body. If you don’t, it’s possible that your body won’t absorb vitamins that you consume. Just keep these tips in mind so that your body can get the most of the vitamins you put in it!

For recipes that will help you absorb vitamins, check out the website of Guiding Stars!


Allison Stowell HeadshotAllison Stowell MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietician for the Guiding Stars Licensing Company. Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious food choices and has received a U.S. Patent for the Guiding Stars nutrition rating algorithm. The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Additional information can be found at

Photo by Vanilla and lace

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