The world of health and wellness can sometimes make you feel as though you need to go back to school. Terms like oxidative stress, mitochondria and bioavailability can seem overwhelming at first but while there is some basic anatomy and physiology knowledge that is needed, the truth is that you don’t need a biology degree to get your health and wellness sorted. After learning these terms, you’ll be well on your way to understanding up-to-date research and choosing the best route for you to attain good health and make informed decisions.
Put simply, bioavailability is the measure of how much of a consumed/administered molecule is available to the cells that need it within your body.
What you put into your body is important and we understand that so we’ve put together this article so you can look at the concept of bioavailability, how it is measured, why it matters, and when it is utilized. Understanding bioavailability and what it means can allow you to be a more informed consumer and ensure you are getting the very best supplements and nutrition to support your body's requirements so you can get the most out of life.
What is bioavailability?
Bioavailability is a measure of the amount of a molecule that is available and utilized by the body when it is taken. The human body has a very specific mode of obtaining and utilizing molecules. Simple changes to molecules can result in them not being utilized by the cells in the body.
Another aspect of bioavailability is how much of the compound actually gets to where it needs to within the body. With compounds taken orally, the digestive tract is full of enzymes, acid, and other molecules that can alter the molecule and decrease its effective absorption. Some routes of administration forgo the digestive tract for this reason and need to be injected.
This is a major reason why things like insulin are only available in injections and not through oral medications. Other methods include the addition of chemical compounds to help the absorption or protection of a specific molecule as it goes through the digestive tract.
How is bioavailability measured?
Bioavailability is measured by assessing the amount of a molecule given and comparing that amount to the levels that are utilized by the body. The way that bioavailability is calculated depends on the route of administration and the intended target of the molecule.
For medications or supplements, the amount taken can be compared to the level found circulating within your blood after digestion.
Bioavailability can be quantified in multiple ways. One of which is by dividing the amount of a molecule given by the amount of it that is absorbed into the body. Multiplying this fraction by 100 gives you the percentage of bioavailability. The closer the value is to 100%, the more bioavailable it is.
Why does bioavailability matter?
The main reason bioavailability matters is that it provides information on how effective a particular supplement or treatment is. The amount that is described on a bottle or packaging only gives you half the story.
As a health-conscious consumer, it is important to understand that quantity is not the absolute answer as to whether a product is good or not. Taking the bioavailability of products into consideration means that you are looking at what your body is getting out of something per serving. Bioavailability is a good measure of quality - and quality is much more important when compared to quantity.
When is bioavailability used?
The measure of bioavailability is used to describe the pharmacology of drugs, to better understand nutrition and to evaluate supplements. Taking bioavailability into consideration, whether you are a healthcare professional or a health fanatic, is important in ensuring the body is getting exactly what it needs when it needs it.
What is bioavailability in medicine?
Assessing the bioavailability of medicines is an important aspect of ensuring patients get the correct dosage of a certain medication. A large part of medicine development is finding the therapeutic dose or the amount of medicine that leads to the largest benefit.
Because many oral medicines do not have a 100% bioavailability, the developers need to determine what percentage of the medicine is absorbed and designate the administration dose accordingly.
One example of this can be given through the herbal drug St. John’s wort. According to a paper published in the National Library of Medicine, St. John’s wort “has been shown to increase cytochrome P450 activity, reducing the plasma concentration, and therefore bioavailability, of other drugs”.
What is bioavailability in nutrition?
Nutrition is an important aspect of your day-to-day life. Many food scientists and nutritionists will analyze the bioavailability of food nutrients to gain a better understanding of how to ensure people are effectively getting the necessary nutrients into their bodies.
One example of how bioavailability plays a role in your diet is to consider antioxidants, phytates, and polyphenols. These molecules decrease in bioavailability the more they are processed. The bioavailability of nutrients found in foods may increase or decrease when they are cooked rather than eaten raw. For example, research has suggested the bioavailability of proteins in fish meal may experience a reduction in nutrient bioavailability when it’s processed at high temperatures.
The microstructure of foods can also play an important role in bioavailability. In the Journal of Nutrition’s article Bioavailability of Nutrients: A Practical Approach to In Vitro Demonstration of the Availability of Nutrients in Multivitamin-Mineral Combination Products, this is defined as “the spatial arrangement of the cell and the intercellular space in food material”. Put simply, understanding food microstructure helps experts to understand how food combinations can influence nutrient absorption.
The complex nature of nutrient bioavailability is a large reason people seek the professional assistance of nutritionists. With an education that takes into account the best ways to get the most out of the food you eat, nutritionists can be an extremely valuable resource in anyone's health journey.
Are bioavailable supplements better?
Dietary supplements can be somewhat of a wild west in terms of trustworthiness due to some companies not backing their products with scientific evidence. Protein powders, as an example, can state that there is 24g of protein per serving, but that may not correlate to the amount your body can use. Iron is another example of an important nutrient that isn’t always absorbed equally from every iron source. According to Science Direct, iron absorbed in the “heme” form (which is present in food of animal origin) is more bioavailable to humans than ferrous iron – a type of iron that can be taken as a supplement. Even worse, some deceptive supplements may mislead you- - which could potentially be harmful.
While the FDA has guidelines for consumers, it’s ultimately your job to carry out the due diligence to ensure what you are putting into your body is safe.
When looking for supplements, it’s important to find quality and reputable supplement companies that hand over their products to non-affiliated labs, provide ample science-backed information and only use the highest quality and best bioavailable ingredients available.
MitoQ does just that and provides only the highest quality and science-backed ingredients in a two-pill dose. With over 700 peer-reviewed papers and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified facilities, MitoQ is a brand you can trust.
Bioavailability and CoQ10
Many people looking to better their cellular health start by supporting their mitochondrial functioning. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and is responsible for providing the usable form of energy for cells to function at their best.
Age and other stressors can decrease the concentration of the antioxidant known as ubiquinone (CoQ10) in the mitochondrial membrane. With a lower concentration of CoQ10, free radical byproducts of cellular respiration can damage the mitochondrial membrane and lead to decreased mitochondrial efficiency.
Many CoQ10 supplements simply take ubiquinol and slap it into a capsule for you to take. While it would make sense for CoQ10 to increase mitochondrial CoQ10 concentrations, in reality, it's not that effective.
CoQ10 is an oily sticky molecule that is very hard to transport across cellular membranes – it's therefore difficult for your body to absorb. Mitochondria create CoQ10 internally for this very reason - because if it was made externally, it would have a tough time getting inside the mitochondria. This is also true for standard CoQ10 supplements - they find it difficult to get inside the mitochondria from the outside due to their large molecule size. Imagine trying to get through a window much smaller than you - it would be a struggle, to say the least!
MitoQ is a miniaturized and positively charged form of CoQ10 – it's a human health breakthrough due to its unique bioavailability formula. Our mitochondria are negatively charged (remember positive and negative charges attract!) so MitoQ is actively drawn into the mitochondria hundreds of times more effectively than regular CoQ10 - making it an exciting product in the world of health, wellbeing and sport. Clinical trials have shown that taking MitoQ can help athletes experience improved athletic performance within time trials, recover better from exercise and can also support cardiovascular health.
Bioavailability is a term utilized to describe how much of something you take is available to your body to use. This concept is utilized by medical professionals, nutritionists, and health-savvy consumers to have a better understanding of how the body utilizes what it consumes.
When trying to get your health and nutrition where you want it to be, considering the bioavailability of what you are consuming can enable you to make choices that will yield the best results. Whether you are trying to lock in your macros, or are trying to find the best quality supplements, the concept of bioavailability can help you to make the best choices for your needs.
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