1. Poor Digestion: Even when your food intake is good, inefficient digestion can limit your body’s uptake of vitamins. Some common causes of inefficient digestion are not chewing food well enough and eating too fast. Both of these result in larger than normal food particle size, too large to allow complete action of digestive enzymes.
2. Hot Coffee, Tea and Spices: Habitual drinking of liquids that are hot, or consuming an excess of irritants such as coffee, tea or pickles and spices can cause inflammation of the digestive linings, resulting in a drop in secretion of fluids and power extraction of vitamins and minerals from food.
3. Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol is known to damage the liver and pancreas which are vital to digestion and metabolism. It can also damage the lining of the intestinal tract and adversely affect the absorption of nutrients, leading to sub-clinical malnutrition. Regular heavy use of alcohol increases the body’s need for the B-Group vitamins, particularly thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid and Vitamins B-12, A and C as well as the minerals, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Alcohol affects availability, absorption and metabolism of nutrients.
4. Smoking: Smoking tobacco is also an irritant to the digestive tract and increases the metabolic requirements of Vitamin C all else being equal, by at least 30 mg per cigarette over and about the typical requirement of a non-smoker. Vitamin C which is normally present in such foods as cabbage, onions, oranges and grapefruit, oxidizes rapidly once these fruits are cut, juiced, cooked or stored in direct light or near heat. Vitamin C is important to the immune function.
5. Laxatives: Overuse of laxatives can result in poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from food, by hastening the intestinal transit time. Parriffin and other mineral oils increase losses of fat soluble Vitamins A, E, and K. Other laxatives used in excess can cause large losses of minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed