Importance of Nutrient Absorption
You eat certain foods because you know that they are giving you the nutrition that you need for a strong, healthier body. But are they? The truth is that there are many different reasons why you may not be getting all the nutrients that you think you are, and your health could be suffering for it.
When nutrients don’t absorb properly or fully, deficiency can occur. Deficiency of any essential nutrient is not a good thing.
For instance, zinc deficiencies are common in older people. Zinc is important for tissue repair, wound healing, sense of taste and smell, and metabolism of nutrients. When the body is deficient in zinc, the sense of taste can decline and affect appetite negatively, which leads to low levels of zinc intake. At that point health can start to suffer.
Nutrient deficiencies can lead to many different health issues, including:
- Dry skin
- Muscle wasting
- Spinal problems
- Increased bruising
- Poor brain functioning
- Pain and cramps
- Poor eyesight
- Heart failure
- Weight gain
- Neurological problems
That is just a short list of what can happen from nutrient deficiency. The bottom line is that if you are not absorbing nutrients properly, then you could suffer from a deficiency, and that comes with many health risks.
Why Do Nutrients Not Absorb Properly?
When a person is suffering from digestion problems, nutrient absorption can be affected. Most nutrients are absorbed through the small intestine during digestion, and if there is any damage done to the intestinal cells or lining of the intestine, then that can prevent the absorption of nutrients. Moreover, other components of digestion, such as bile production and digestive enzymes, can have an effect on absorption.
Inflammation of the intestine, called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect the mucous membrane in the intestine and prevent absorption. Two of the most common types of IBD include Crohn’s disease, which affects the whole gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which affects the large intestine.
Diseases such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and cholestasis seem to affect absorption of nutrients. The reason is not clear, but the relation between diseases and deficiency is.
“Vitamin D deficiency is linked to Hashimoto’s, according to one study showing that more than 90% of patients studied were deficient.” – Today’s Dietitian
Various medications can also affect absorption. For instance, metoclopramide, opioids, ethanol, phenobarbital, colchicine, anticholinergics, and even certain laxatives can all affect absorption. This is not an extensive list as there are many other medications that interfere with absorption.
Smoking and excessive drinking can also affect absorption of nutrients. For instance, smoking can inhibit the absorption of calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Alcohol can inhibit the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin B1, vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc.
Lastly, diarrhea and vomiting from infections or illness can prevent food from staying in the digestive tract long enough to be properly digested and absorbed.
How To Ensure You Are Absorbing Nutrients Properly
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet that is easy to absorb, taking supplements, avoiding excess alcohol, quitting smoking, and limiting medications – including laxatives. Also, avoiding foods that cause inflammation or digestive issues can help the digestive tract work properly.
However, if you have a more serious issues that prevents absorption, then it is important to treat the cause in order to get the body working properly again.