The vitamins and minerals you see listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of Vega One® All-in-One Shake are from whole foods sources. Each serving includes a blend made from whole fruits (including strawberry, apple, cranberry, pomegranate, orange, and grapes), and vegetables (including spinach, broccoli, carrot, beet, tomato and shiitake mushroom) providing these important vitamins and minerals. This isn’t something you see every day, so you may be wondering how these vitamins and minerals compare to their synthetic, lab-manufactured counterparts.
What is bioavailability?
Before we dive into the research, let’s take a step back to make sure we’re on the same page about what bioavailability means. At Vega, we often say it’s not just what foods you consume, but how much you digest and assimilate from those foods.
Every body is different, and depending on genetics, age, and current health status, different people will obtain slightly different amounts of micronutrients from the foods they eat. Because no one absorbs 100% of the nutrients in a food, the term “bioavailable” was introduced to explain what percentage was absorbed. However, determining exact values of absorption in humans is challenging and no single definition exists that accurately takes into account the full nature of the term.1
When referring to food and nutrition, we talk about “relative bioavailability”—is there one form or source that is more easily absorbed in most people’s bodies? When referring to vitamins and minerals, this means looking at not only what molecular form the compound is, but what other factors affect it: are there any compounds in the food that reduce absorption? Or are there compounds that enhance absorption?
What do we know about food-based vitamins and minerals and their bioavailability?
Vitamins and minerals coming from whole foods serve up nutrients in a form closest to their whole food counterparts. For example, although synthetic and food-based vitamin C are chemically identical (ascorbic acid), fruits and vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, strawberries, and cranberries) contain numerous other nutrients and phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, which can help increase the bioavailability of vitamin C.2
Likewise, when compared to vitamin D2 or D3 manufactured in a lab, UV-treated mushrooms provide vitamin D that is just as bioavailable to your body.3 We also know that beta-carotene naturally found in carrots is converted by your body into active vitamin A.4
Because synthetic vitamins have been researched more intensively in the past 50 years, we are just now learning more about how food-based vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the body. If you have been advised by a health practitioner to take a specific form of vitamin or mineral to treat a deficiency, it is always recommended to follow that advice.
So now you know, Vega One® All-in-One Shake contains a blend made from whole fruits and vegetables, providing whole food forms of important vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Do you prefer synthetic or whole food vitamins and minerals? Share your thoughts below!
1. Holst B, Williamson G. (2008). Nutrients and phytochemicals: from bioavailability to bioefficacy beyond antioxidants. Current Opinion in Biotechnology; 19:73–82
2. Carr AC, Visser MC. (2013). Synthetic or food-derived vitamin C–are they equally bioavailable? Nutrients. 28;5(11):4284-304. Retrieved 5/7/14 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3847730/pdf/nutrients-05-04284.pdf
3. Keegan RJ, Lu Z, Bogusz JM, Williams JE, Holick MF. (2013). Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans. Dermatoendocrinology. 1;5(1):165-76. Retrieved 5/7/14 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897585/pdf/de-5-165.pdf
4. National Institutes of Health. (2013). Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: Vitamin A. Retrieved 12/17/14 from: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/