What is “bioavailability”? Why is it important? Why are plant based nutrients more bioavailable?
The dictionary definition of “bioavailability”: the degree and rate at which a substance or nutrient is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.
Our bodies evolved to recognize and use nutrients that come from the plant sources that our ancestors found in nature. The form of minerals and vitamins that someone consumes impacts its availability and ability to absorb and perform in your system. For instance, the vitamins and minerals you get from broccoli (plant based) will be better absorbed and used by your system than a supplement that contains an extracted or synthesized version of those nutrients.
Cofactors and co-nutrients improve absorption. Plants contain a spectrum of customized cofactors - vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and phytonutrients – that work together. When you isolate specific compounds, you may get the star of the team, but you leave all the supporting players behind. These supporting players are the cofactors and co-nutrients that are only available in plant-based nutrients and supplements. Some of the better supplement companies will include cofactors to improve absorption, but there is no way to mimic nature’s design – we are still learning and understanding all of the components in plants or other natural substances (like breastmilk) that aide in absorption and utilization of nutrients - some haven’t even been identified.
Bottom line, when choosing a vitamin and mineral supplement make sure it is plant based for the best bioavailability.