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First Years Pregnancy Sep 23, 2019
5 Minutes

How to: ingestion vs absorption: the top five ways to make sure the good stuff gets in!

Generally speaking, we are pretty cautious around supplement use (click here for more as to why). Broadly speaking, this relates to the fact that the industry is unregulated: which means dosage, quality and how much absorption of the goodies we really get can be variable or even questionable. 

However, there are some supplements or ‘super foods’ out there that have shown real, evidence-based potential benefit. Particularly, when it comes to being in healthy shape for conception, pregnancy and early years.

So, the first key question on our quest for the ‘good stuff’: 

How much absorption of these things do we really get and how can we get the most out of it? 

This is where we get to the question of ingestion vs absorption. 

So, in this article we go through the top five things to think about when it comes maximising the absorption of the ‘good stuff’. For both your/you baby’s body: 

Here we go: 


Once again – it’s all about the gut. You may be bored by now of our obsession with this organ! However, when it comes to the subject of absorbing good things, the gut (as the filter between what gets into our bodies and what gets rejected) is paramount. Whether it be supplement/food/anything else, the gut is the gatekeeper from the outside world to our insides. If it is compromised, it can either lead to not enough getting through or too much of the wrong thing getting through (in the case of leaky gut) leading to all kinds of potential issues. So, step one: for this (and many other reasons – click here for more) keeping it healthy should be a priority. How to do this? We have written extensively on this – but check out a quick couple of practical, evidence-based ideas and ‘how to’ here. 


Turmeric (or the active ingredient within it: Curcumin). This has become more widely accepted as a powerful anti inflammatory (click here for why chronic inflammation is really not what you want). However, how do you actually get the most out of it? Here are three ways:

  • Heat: research has shown that heating Tumeric can potentially enhance absorption. Adding it to tea/hot water is an easy way to achieve this ie. when you are making rice/quinoa etc. (1)
  • Fat Soluble: It is ‘fat soluble’ which means it dissolves in fat so having it with a ‘fat’ like a nut butter/milk, avocado or another healthy fat can enhance absorption. 
  • Black Pepper: or more specifically Piperine: research has shown that this is another way to increase absorption. (2) 


Folate/Folic Acid: we all know that a growing baby needs adequate folate for brain development. However, the way this is typically delivered is in the synthetic version: Folic Acid (in most prenatal supplements) can be a potential problem for some people. The issue with this, is that research has shown that this is not always easily absorbed by everyone and that the food based version: Methylfolate is a better way to go. We have written extensively on this – click here for all the science and more detail as to why we like to err on the side of caution and go with Methylfolate rather than the synthetic version. 


Vitamin D: the research around the benefit of getting ‘enough’ of this vitamin (which many of us lack) has boomed in the recent past. Particularly around immunity, with research suggesting that getting enough in pregnancy could even help reduce incidence of some common infection in kids (ear for example), click here for more. Deficiency has also been linked (albeit it inconclusively) to PCOS amongst other things.

Question is: how do you get enough? Well: as it is a fat soluble vitamin it is best taken once again with a fat if you’re going to go down the supplement route. The other basic thing to be aware of is the D3 form is the best bet when it comes to maximising benefit for our bodies and absorption. Obviously the good old fashioned sunlight is the third option. Of course when it comes to sunlight: you need to think about time of year vs potential sun damage. 30 minutes of sunlight delivers 50,000 iu of Vitamin D to Caucasian skin (n.b. the darker your skin the less you get) (3) which is a lot. Typically just 15 minutes a day in the sun (outside of peak midday time slot) 2-3 times per week should be enough on your arms/face. If in doubt though, simply ask your doctor for a test. Knowledge of your own individual situation is definitely power here – particularly during pregnancy. Click here for more. 


Glutathione: If you see this super powerful antioxidant and master defender of the body (click here for more) advertised as a supplement – run! Sadly, we see it for sale quite often, but the reality is that when it comes to absorption, in supplement form: forget it. The body cannot absorb it in oral form (it gets broken down in digestion) so you really are flushing your money down the drain. There is good news however and various ways you can get more of this in your body. Click here for more. One of our favourite evidence-backed ways if you want to go down the supplement route is N-Acetyl Cysteine: click here for much more as to what this is and how it works, particular if you’re thinking about a healthy conception and pregnancy. All about empowering our bodies to do the job they were made to do! 


  1. Biji T. Kurien and R. Hal Scofield: Heat-Solubilized Curcumin Should Be Considered in ClinicalTrials for Increasing Bioavailability: Jan 15. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 15; 15(2): 747.
  2. Zen X, Cai D, Zeng Q:  Selective reduction in the expression of UGTs and SULTs, a novel mechanism by which piperine enhances the bioavailability of curcumin in rat. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 2017 Jan;38(1):3-19.
  3. Yu CK, Sykes L, Sethi M, Teoh TG, Robinson S: Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation during pregnancy. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2009;70:685-90. 

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