There are 28 Essential Vitamins & Minerals. What's the Best Way to Absorb Them?

Updated: Jun 23

Hey Everyone. Drew here, health & nutrition coach & personal trainer, answering a nutrition-related question from my friends over at Atlantic Spine Clinic in Mt Pleasant. Let’s get right into it. The question today comes from Annie. Annie asks...

“Is there a simple chart or easy cheat sheet that shows vitamins and minerals and their interactions with each other and/or other digestive conditions, to help you best absorb your supplements?

Good question Annie, and kind of a complicated answer. Yes & No. Yes in the sense that, when it comes to vitamins & minerals, there aren’t really contraindications as far as individual micronutrients & absorption goes.

For those who don’t know there are 28 essential vitamins & minerals. Vitamins & minerals are part of a broader category of nutrients called micronutrients. These 28 vitamins & minerals are called essential because A) your body can’t produce them on its own and B) if your body doesn’t receive an appropriate amount of even one of these micronutrients, over time deficiency and disease will result. The body is intelligently designed to positively interact with all 28 essential vitamins & minerals, which are found in varying amounts in the foods we eat & the beverages we drink, that is, IF we are eating a healthy, well balanced diet. [1]

In other words, there should not be any significant absorption-related issues if you’re taking one micronutrient with another in your supplements. If you research this topic online, you might come across images that look like this…

Or this…

While these images are not difficult to find online, to my knowledge there isn’t any solid scientific evidence to back them up.

I generally advice that people take their supplements with a little food. With fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E & K, it’s helpful to consume these with some healthy dietary fat, to assist in absorption. It important to know that there ARE certain health conditions, as well as prescription & OTC medications that DO interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients, whether those nutrients are from food or supplements. With medication this is called Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion.

You may see charts like the one above online. Some of these are more evidence-based & accurate than others, but with this topic there IS plenty of clinical & scientific data to support the claims.

One such study is this one, a 2018 study in the journal Pharmaceutics that found that several common medications adversely affect the absorption of several essential nutrients, such as...

* Antacids like PPIs, which deplete vitamins B12, C, A, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron & zinc.

* NSAIDs like aspirin, which deplete vitamin C & iron.

* Blood pressure meds like diuretics, ACE inhibitors & calcium channel blockers, which deplete vitamins B1 & B9 (also known as folate) as well as calcium, potassium, zinc.

* Cholesterol meds like statins, which deplete the antioxidant CoQ10, which, ironically, places people at increased risk of heart failure. Statins also negatively impact the status of fat soluble vitamins A, D & E.

* Blood sugar & diabetic meds like metformin, which decrease the availability of vitamin B12. Corticosteroids, both taken orally or via inhaler, which are known to decrease potassium as well as vitamin D & calcium, which can increase risk of fractures & osteoporosis.

* Antidepressants like SSRIs, which are also known to decrease vitamin D and calcium absorption.

* And oral contraceptives, which are known to decrease vitamins B6, B12, C & K as well as magnesium. [2-4]

And there are several chronic diseases & digestive conditions that adversely affect nutrient absorption, but for the sake of time I won’t get into those today...

...Suffice to say that any intervention you do that helps support stomach, intestine, pancreas & liver & gallbladder health is going to improve your body’s ability to break down & absorb essential & therapeutic nutrients.

If you want to test your vitamin & mineral status, in my opinion the current gold standard test is the Micronutrient Test Panel blood test produced by Spectracell Labs. It is a little bit spendy, and sadly insurance often doesn’t cover the cost of this test.

It’s also important to realize that blood tests only test what is in the blood (specifically, the serum). With micronutrients, levels in the body’s tissues may be significantly different than levels in the blood.

Well that’s it! I hope you learned something helpful. If you’re interested in high quality chiropractic, physical therapy or massage, please check out my friends at Atlantic Spine Clinic in Mt Pleasant. And if you’re interested in transforming your health through holistic health & nutrition coaching or personal training, reach out to me. I’d love to help! Until next time, stay healthy out there ;)



2 (2018 study on drug induced nutrient depletion)

3 (2018 study on drug induced nutrient depletion)

4 (2017 study on drug induced nutrient depletion)

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