A Quick Lesson on Vitamin Absorption

We all know that our body needs various vitamins and minerals to perform its regular daily functions. When your body is running low on these vitamins and minerals, you will begin to develop symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, weakness and sometimes even more severe adverse health reactions. Sure, this is something you probably already know, considering that over 70% of U.S. adults consume additional health supplement products to boost their bodily functions and reduce the risk of developing ailments like these. However, did you know that even in a well-balanced diet, you may be consuming foods that interact with your body’s ability to absorb these vitamins and minerals? Let’s take a look at some of the foods and food groups to watch out for.




This may come as a surprise to many of you, as dairy is commonly regarded as the ultimate source for calcium, but dairy products can inhibit the absorption of iron and zinc in your body. Dairy is still one of the most efficient ways for you to incorporate calcium into your diet, and you will need calcium to maintain healthy bone density, sufficient hormone secretion and proper artery and vein function.


When consuming dairy products, try to take your iron and zinc supplements 2 hours after to ensure maximum absorption.



Soy products have long been lauded for their many health benefits. Not only are they a great option for vegetarians, but soy products are also rich in omega-3 fats, minerals and various vitamins. However, like dairy products, soy products can also limit your body’s absorption of iron and zinc. In fact, more than this, soy products can even limit your absorption of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12 and various minerals! This is due to a certain acid called phytate that is commonly found in all soy products. Phytate, which is known as an anti-nutrient, binds with these vitamins and minerals in the digestive tract, ultimately preventing their absorption.


Try eating soy products alone, so that other important vitamins in your diet are not impacted. Ensure to take your supplements up to 4 hours after consuming soy products.




Most of us enjoy our morning cup of tea of coffee. The caffeine content gets us moving and ready for the day. Caffeine has a wide range of health benefits with it being linked to improving memory and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. However, it can also impact the absorption of several key vitamins and minerals. Studies have found caffeine to reduce the absorption of iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and even vitamins B and D! As caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, it increases urination, which is bad news for water soluble vitamins like vitamin B. This effect also reduces the absorption of magnesium, zinc and copper, and just one cup of coffee can lose your body 5mg of calcium. Caffeine also interferes with our body’s vitamin D receptors.

Tip: Don’t put that coffee down just yet! Waiting as little as 15 minutes to consume your various health supplements is plenty of time to avoid the adverse effects of caffeine on vitamin absorption. To be safe, separate your caffeine intake from your supplement intake by 2 hours.


Polyphenol Foods

Polyphenol is an antioxidant chemical commonly found in foods like dark chocolate, cloves, cocoa powder, flaxseed and chestnut. The antioxidant is has been found to positively impact your health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improving the functionality of blood circulation and also preventing platelet clumping. These benefits can help to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However whilst providing these health benefits, polyphenol also inhibit the absorption of iron in the body, sometimes by as much as 90%. This is why polyphenol is known as one of the major inhibitors of iron absorption.

Tip: When consuming foods high in iron or taking iron supplements, ensure that you do so 2 hours after eating any foods high in polyphenol.


Some more quick tips

  • Opt for the full-fat dressing next time you get a salad. A recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the full-fat dressing helps the carotenoids found in salads absorb properly. Carotenoids are instrumental in regulating inflammation in your body.
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics can reduce your body’s effectiveness of absorbing several key vitamins and minerals. If you have just finished an extended course of antibiotics, try incorporating foods like yogurt, miso and kombucha into your diet to rebalance the good and bad bacteria in your body.  


Follow these tips to make sure your body is absorbing the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals from your diet and supplements. For more health tips, subscribe to our mailing list below.  

Tiffani Smith