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Ingestion vs absorption: five ways to make sure you’re getting your goodies….

Generally speaking, we are pretty cautious around supplement use (click here for more as to why). Broadly speaking, this relates to the fact that the industry is unregulated which means dosage, quality and how effective these things really are when it comes to doing what they claim to do, or even absorption by the body, can be questionable. 

That being said, there are some supplements or substances out there that have shown great potential benefit. It’s all about knowing where to look and some little tips and tricks from science.

So, how much of what we actually ‘take in’ can be used and absorbed by the body? How much is really available to the body (to use its technical term: bioavailable)?

This is where we get to the question of ingestion vs absorption: 

In this article we will go through the top five things to think about when it comes to getting the most ‘good stuff’ into your body. 

Here we go!

ONE: once again – it’s all about the gut. You may be bored by now of our obsession with the gut, however, when it comes to the subject of absorption of all the good things, the gut (as the filter between what gets into our bodies and what gets rejected) is paramount. Whether it be supplement/food/anything else, the gut is the gatekeeper from the outside world to our insides and if it is compromised it can either lead to not enough getting through or too much of the wrong thing getting through (in the case of leaky gut) leading to all kinds of potential issues. So, step one: for this (and many other reasons – click here for more) is keeping it healthy. Top priority! How to do this? We have written extensively on this – but check out a quick couple of practical, evidence-based ideas and ‘how to’ here

TWO: Turmeric (or the active ingredient within it: Curcumin). This has become more widely accepted as a powerful anti inflammatory (click here for why chronic inflammation is really not what you want). However, how do you actually get the most out of it? Here are three ways:

  • Heat: research has shown that heating Tumeric can potentially enhance absorption. Adding it to tea/hot water is an easy way to achieve this ie. when you are making rice/quinoa etc. (1)
  • Fat Soluble: It is ‘fat soluble’ which means it dissolves in fat so having it with a ‘fat’ like a nut butter, nut milk, avocado or another healthy fat can enhance absorption. 
  • Black Pepper: or more specifically Piperine: research has shown that this is another way to increase absorption. (2) 

THREE: Folate/Folic Acid: we all know that a growing baby needs adequate folate for brain development. However, the way this is typically delivered is in the synthetic version: Folic Acid (in most prenatal supplements). The issue with this, is that research has shown that this is not always easily absorbed by everyone and that the food based version: Methylfolate is a better way to go. We have written extensively on this – click here for all the science and more detail to help you. 

FOUR: Vitamin D: the research around the benefit of getting ‘enough’ of this vitamin (which many of us lack) has grown in the recent past particularly around immunity with research suggesting that getting enough in pregnancy could even help reduce incidence of some common infection in kids (ear for example), click here for much more of the science/how to get enough. Deficiency has also been linked (albeit it inconclusively) to PCOS amongst other things. Question is: how do you get enough? Well: as it is a fat soluble vitamin it is best taken once again with a fat. Simple but effective. Taking Vitamin D3 is also the way to go when it comes to your body getting as much of the good stuff as possible. 

FIVE: Glutathione: If you see this super powerful antioxidant and defence for the body (click here for more) advertised as a supplement – run! Sadly, we see it for sale quite frequently. Why is this a problem if it is such a good thing? The reality is that when it comes to actual absorption, the body cannot take it in when it comes to oral/supplement form (it gets broken down in digestion) so you really are flushing your money down the drain if you buy this. There is good news however, and ways you can get more of this in your body. N-Acetyl Cysteine is one supplement that you can take which can help. Essentially this is one way to help the body to produce its own. Click here for much more on what this is and why it matters.  


  1. Biji T. Kurien and R. Hal Scofield: Heat-Solubilized Curcumin Should Be Considered in ClinicalTrials for Increasing Bioavailability: Jan 15. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 15; 15(2): 747.
  2. Zen X, Cai D, Zeng Q:  Selective reduction in the expression of UGTs and SULTs, a novel mechanism by which piperine enhances the bioavailability of curcumin in rat. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2017 Jan;38(1):3-19.


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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Each month we will be giving away a curated box of goodies to suit the individual stage of your Journey, worth £100. To enter the draw and join us, enter your details below. Winner announced at the end of the month.


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