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What Exactly Is Bioavailability And Precisely How Does It Operate?

September 6, 2012

In today’s contemporary world, there are an increasing number of words beginning with ‘bio’ coming into our regular vocabulary. Terms like ‘biodegradable’ and ‘biofuel’ are 2 such terms that we now frequently find in present day conversation which are most likely due to society’s increased interest in preserving our planet. This is not to say that terms like this are newly invented because a lot of them have been around for a very long time.
However, there are words in existence like ‘bioavailable’ and ‘bioavailability’ for instance which aren’t regularly used much in everyday language. Of course, if you’ve trained in pharmacology then these terms will in all probability be really familiar to you. You’ll also probably know what the terms make reference to and how they are used in pharmacological situations. That being said, what we’re concerned with here is looking at the concept of bioavailability from a health point of view in terms that the layperson can comprehend.
There are a number of ways in which a compound may enter the body. It could enter through the nose by breathing in, through the epidermis via flesh contact, through being injected using an IV or needle or by being ingested. When it comes to the foods we consume, or more precisely, at the level that ingested substances are assimilated by the human body, these substances are taken up in differing levels and quantities. At this point, we aren’t talking here about the ability of the different organs and tissue to take up substances but rather how conducive a distinct compound is to becoming absorbed.
As we pointed out in the last passage, the substances which in this instance are nutritional compounds have varying uptake levels and rates of assimilation. This rate and degree of assimilation is referred to as ‘bioavailability’ (BA) and there are differing levels of it hinging on how bioavailable a compound is. To clarify this principle a little bit better, let us utilize the process of food digestion in the human body as an example.
Nutrititional substances that are consumed in the form of food all use the same route through your body’s digestive tract. To begin with, the food is broken down in the oral cavity by saliva and chewing and later by digestion juices in the tummy once it has been swallowed. These things enable the nutritional compounds to be released so that they are able to continue their path into the circulatory system and get taken up via the body’s tissue and organs.
Some nutrients are readily assimilated by the body’s internal organs and tissues and, consequently, are thought to be to be highly bioavailable whilst others are much more hard to absorb. What’s more, the level and speed of absorption may be affected by things like whether the substance is water or oil soluble, for example. Even a person’s diet can play a role in absorption level. Take the dangerous compound lead, for instance. Although it’s harmful to the human body and isn’t something we want our bodies to absorb in any way, shape or form, we could be vunerable to enhanced absorption of lead if we have insufficient iron and calcium in our food intake.
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