Liquid Vitamins Are Destroyed by Stomach Acid?
By Daniel Weigum
A controversial subject has been the destruction of liquid vitamins in the presence of stomach acid. Nutraceutical supporters claim the simplified composition of a liquid vitamin leaves the vital nutrients susceptible to damage from strong stomach acid.
Our digestive system is an amazing nutrient processing machine which is far more sophisticated than just a catch container filled with hydrochloric acid and enzymes. There are a plethora of events that take place during digestion. Some examples of isolated nutrient digestion and absorption can be helpful in determining whether vitamins and minerals are destroyed during digestion.
A large majority of vitamin supplements contain Ascorbic Acid; more commonly recognized as vitamin C. What happens to ascorbic acid when it comes in contact with digestive acids and enzymes?
Ascorbic acid resembles a monosaccharide. Its molecular structure is made up of a five member, unsaturated lactone ring with two hydroxyl groups. These molecular components are attached to double bonded carbons. The molecular structure of ascorbic acid is actually easily oxidized during digestion. The oxidation process does not destroy ascorbic acid (vitamin C) but simply changes the molecular structure to dehydroascorbic acid. Both ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid are biologically effective as vitamin C.
‚-carotene is commonly referred to as vitamin A. ‚-carotene is actual a biological precursor to vitamin A. ‚-carotene requires oxidation to become vitamin A which is intern oxidized to form 11-cis-retinal in the liver. 11-cis-retinal is vital to eyesight. 11-cis-retinal is isomerized within the rod cells of the eye when exposed to visible light making vision possible. This vital nutrient requires oxidation to convert to 11-cis-retinal.
Destruction of vitamins and minerals is not the purpose of digestion. The conversion of vitamins and minerals into usable, absorbable nutrients is the vital purpose of digestion. Most ingested substances require some form of digestion in order for the body to utilize the nutrient.
Digestion is very complex but a general idea of the process can help describe methods to increase nutrient absorption efficiency. Chewing of ingested material is the first process which doesnít apply to vitamin supplements. Chewing pill form vitamins is not common and the need for chewing a liquid vitamin is not necessary. Never the less, chewing is the introductory process during digestion often referred to as mechanical digestion. In the mouth, ingested materialís surface area is increased, salivary enzymes are introduced and ingested material is hydrated with saliva. The material is swallowed and contained in the stomach for approximately 2-4 hours. During this period, the stomach introduces acid and enzymes which are regulated by many enzymatic and hormonal signals during digestion. After this process is complete, the digesting material is allowed to enter the duodenum wear digestion is completed and acidic material is neutralized by pancreatic juices and bile secretion. Again, bile and pancreatic juices are regulated by hormonal signaling. This process prevents damage to the intestinal track during the absorption process. If material hasnít completely digested by this time, absorption efficiency will be greatly decreased and the material will be excreted. The material is allowed to enter the small intestine where the majority of absorption takes place. The remainder of the material moves to the large intestine where water is still being absorbed. The remaining waste enters the colon and finally is excreted.
This process is time sensitive and requires a proper sequence of events. If ingested material bypasses the mechanical digestion process, chemical digestion has to compensate and is limited to the surface area of the ingested material. In this case, a pill form vitamin must be digested completely into absorbable nutrients without the increase in surface are or hydration-enzyme introduction of saliva. This leads to inefficient absorption rates of up to 30%. Liquid vitamin supplements do not depend on mechanical digestion to be absorbed properly increasing the absorption efficiency to approximately 90%.
Digestion is not designed for destruction of vitamins and minerals but simply a method the body uses to transform nutrients into usable substances. The fewer steps required to complete this process leads to a more efficient absorption percentage. With the bodies need for vital nutrients, the least that can be done is supplying a more easily digested supply of vitamins and minerals.
Copyright 2005 Daniel Weigum
Dan is a health conscious webmaster searching for answers to health issues that affect everyone everyday. Learn more about vitamin absorption and other health topics at http://www.vitaminmaniac.com in the 'Health Blog and Facts' section.
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