How Long Do Supplements Stay in Your System?Direct Health Shop Admin
Figuring out a balanced diet that’s rich in the right vitamins and minerals isn’t easy. In fact, it may be an ongoing process to determine what makes you feel your best. Figuring out where you need to give yourself a boost with supplements can also be tricky. But before you load up on a bunch of different things, perhaps it would help if you knew a bit more about how your body uses them. If the main thing you’re wondering is, “how long do supplements stay in your system?” — we’ve got you covered.
An overview of a few types of vitamins (and more)
As we discussed in our last post about the best supplements to boost your immune system, the terms “vitamin” and “supplement” are practically interchangeable. Don’t let the verbiage trip you up too much.
A key difference to note, however, is that vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals can all exist naturally in food or even be produced by our bodies, for example. Supplements, on the other hand, are compounds that are added to something else. However, supplements can be derived from these same natural sources.
You can also break down vitamins further into a few different types such as water-soluble and fat-soluble. You also have things like minerals and antioxidants, which are a little bit different.
- Water-soluble vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of foods you eat and can be readily broken down in the bloodstream. Water-soluble vitamins include biotin, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6, B12, and C, and more.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Fat-soluble vitamins travel around your body via protein carriers. They don’t break down as quickly since they have to travel to their ultimate destinations. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Major minerals: Major minerals help your body maintain appropriate water levels. They’re kind of important, to say the least, since your body is mostly water. Major minerals include calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur.
- Trace minerals: Trace minerals exist in your body in very small quantities but are still crucial to the balance of your entire system. Some trace minerals include iodine, copper, fluoride, manganese, iron, selenium, and zinc.
- Antioxidants: You may not know this, but your body naturally produces some antioxidants. You can also get them from supplements. They play an important role in limiting damage to your cells and DNA, and by protecting your body in profound ways.
How your body processes vitamins and supplements
How long supplements stay in your system will ultimately depend on the type of vitamin, supplement, mineral, or nutrient you’re dealing with.
As we learned above, your body begins to immediately use water-soluble vitamins as soon as they hit your bloodstream. And, since your body is mostly water, these vitamins circulate throughout (and out of your body via urine) with ease. This constant turnover makes sense, too, since many water-soluble are abundantly available, such as vitamin C.
On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins stick around a bit longer. This is because they need to make it to the intestines and reach the bile stores produced by the liver. Bile is what breaks these substances down. They are then absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine for use throughout the body.
Some supplements never really leave
Though some vitamins and nutrients filter throughout your body (and ultimately out through the kidneys) quickly, it’s not quite as simple as saying they’re gone for good. If you’re thinking that water-soluble vitamins always leave quicker than fat-soluble, that’s not entirely true. In fact, you likely have stores of certain water-soluble vitamins, such as B12 in your liver, that have been around for years. Vitamin C and folic acid are other examples of vitamins that can stick around for days.
Before you take it upon yourself to add a new vitamin or supplement to your routine, check with your healthcare provider. After all, you may be getting a lot more of a certain vitamin just from your everyday diet — even if you’re working on improving that, too.