Digestive System
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Looking at vitamin supplements?
Start with an overview
of digestion system

Understanding vitamin supplements requires some basic knowledge about digestive system. Most people who take vitamin supplements, or minerals, or antioxidants, usually take them by mouth, and these supplements enter their body through digestive system.

So, let's refresh our memory...

What is a digestive system?

Digestive system is a group of organs that are responsible for getting food into and out of the body and for making use of it.

What are the steps of the digestion process?

The first stage of digestion is ingestion,
in which food is taken into the mouth and then broken down into smaller pieces by the chewing action of the teeth.

Salivary glands produce saliva as a response to sight, taste, and smell of the food. It is necessary for saliva to be present for the proper food movement through the mouth.
Another role of saliva is to begin a process of breaking carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Next, the food goes down the esophagus (food tube), pushed by wavelike muscular contractions. Esophagus extends from the bottom of the throat to the top of the stomach. Vitamin supplements taken by mouth make the same path through the food tube.

Personal note
Sometimes, after swallowing a large tablet, I have an uncomfortable feeling somewhere inside my chest, which is quickly gone. I am sure that it it caused by that large pill moving down my food tube. Did this ever happen to you?..

The food ends up in the stomach, where chemical digestion begins. Stomach acids break down much of the protein into amino acids and kill most bacteria in the food.

Food leaves the stomach already in liquid form and travels into the small intestine. There carbohydrates, amino acids and fats are digested and then absorbed into the bloodstream.Vitamins and minerals are also absorbed in the small intestine.

Having problems with bloating, diarrhea or constipation?
You might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Learn about the symptoms of IBS and home remedies
that are sure to help.

The liver produces bile, which is stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder empties bile, a yellowish or greenish fluid, into the small intestine when liquid food enters it. Bile is necessary for dissolving fats. Another function of liver is to processes and regulate the substances entering the blood stream from the food that is ingested.

The pancreas produces pancreatic juice, which assists in digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Pancreas also regulates blood sugar levels by directing cells to take up or to secrete sugar into the blood.

The large intestine removes water from what is left of the food once it passes the small intestine.

The rectum is the final storage space for food wastes, once all of the nutrients and moisture have been removed. The wastes remain in the rectum until excreted.

How vitamin supplements are consumed by a human body?

Digestion is a chemical process of transforming complex organic substances into more simple ones, which can be absorbed by a body.

Vitamins and minerals can be absorbed "as is", without any transformation, therefore there is no need for a body to digest vitamins and minerals.

However, a necessary condition for this absorption is that supplements should be present in liquid form in the small intestine. Otherwise, vitamin supplement cannot be absorbed - it is not bioavailable. Formal definition of bioavailability is a percentage of a consumed supplement that has been absorbed by a body.

There is a principal difference between different dietary supplements in the way their ingredient are absorbed.

  • Solid supplements in form of tablets, capsules, or pills are swallowed, usually with a liquid, and make their way to the stomach. In the stomach they should dissolve before the food will leave it.
    If not dissolved, pills will leave the stomach with supplements still being solid.
    Vitamin absorption cannot happen if vitamin is not in a liquid form.

  • Liquid vitamins, spray vitamins and dietary supplements in gel form do not have to be dissolved. The reason is simple: in these forms of dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are not solid: they are already dissolved in liquid, or "floating" in gel.
    These nutrients are ready to be absorbed!

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