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Can you absorb the vitamins, minerals, and Q10 you take

- or are you wasting money on the wrong supplements?

Can you absorb the vitamins, minerals, and Q10 you takeIt is only natural to expect a nutritional supplement to be absorbed and deliver an effect. However, for this to happen, you must look for products with documentation. Countless multivitamin products and supplements with Q10, selenium, chromium, magnesium, and iron have very poor quality and are not properly absorbed. Our ageing process alone impairs the uptake of vitamins and minerals, and the same is the case if we lack essential fats, have too high calcium levels, or use antacids and other types of medicine – so this also needs to be taken into account.

Vitamins, minerals, and Q10 are all involved in various enzyme processes that are important for cellular energy turnover and different cell functions. The nutrients also protect cells, organs, and the cardiovascular system. When we use nutritional supplements, we aim for a long-term effect in the way of preventing disease, atherosclerosis, and early death. It is therefore extremely important that we are able to absorb and utilize the different products.

Choose products with documented quality

The food supplement market is a jungle, and it is easy to get lost. Always make sure to choose supplements with documented quality, and which the body can absorb and utilize. Any research that can validate the effect of the products is useful. An example: A patented Q10 preparation has demonstrated a positive effect in a variety of studies, but these results cannot be extrapolated to similar Q10 preparations. That documentation is unique and supports exclusively the product in question.
What is more, organic chromium yeast and organic selenium yeast are absorbed and utilized far better by the body than inorganic forms of the two minerals. The quality of the raw material, and the way in which it has been processed into a finished product is essential for its bioavailability and effect.

Q10 is essential but most Q10 products have no or limited effect

Q10 is a coenzyme that supports the energy turnover in all cells. Q10 is also a powerful antioxidant that protects cells and their DNA against oxidative stress caused by free radicals
Most of the Q10 that we humans need is made by our own body, but the endogenous synthesis of the compound begins to decrease from the age of around 20 years. Many people notice this when they are in their 40s and 50s and lose vitality. Using cholesterol-lowering medicine can also impair the body’s Q10 synthesis.
Many people take supplement with Q10 as a way of getting more energy right here and now. Q10 also has an antioxidant function that protects the heart, cardiovascular system and cells, but this is a long-term effect.
The fact is that the body has difficulty with absorbing the majority of Q10 preparations on the market because the active compound passes directly through the digestive system without ever reaching the cells. Consumers are completely unaware of this weakness and actually waste their money on preparations that have limited or no effect at all. What is more, scientific studies conducted using these ineffective preparations fail to demonstrate a positive result because of the absorption issue.

Important to know how to make Q10

Q10 is a lipid-soluble compound. For that reason, most Q10 preparations consist of gelatin capsules with Q10 dissolved in a vegetable oil of some sort. It is a common misconception that this alone can guarantee that the body can absorb the active ingredient. It is not that simple. The Q10 molecules in the oil-filled capsules have a natural tendency to aggregate and form large, indigestible crystals that are unable to pass through the intestinal membrane and reach the bloodstream. These crystals form at temperatures lower than 48 degrees Celsius.
In order to manufacture a useful Q10 preparation, you need a patented combination of oils with different melting points and a special heating technique that transforms the indigestible Q10 crystals into “snowflake-like” structures with a much larger and less dense surface. These snowflakes are able to dissolve at normal body temperature, which means that the Q10 molecules no longer cling together, once the preparation enters your digestive system. That way, they are completely detached and can reach the blood. This way of manufacturing Q10 supplements has turned out to provide good bioavailability of the active ingredient, and studies show that it works.

Technically, the absorption of different nutritional supplements can vary from zero to 100 percent. The only way to determine if the products work is by testing them in placebo-controlled human studies.

Differences between selenium preparations – a matter of life and death

All human cells contain selenium. The nutrient supports around 30 different selenoproteins, which control energy turnover, the immune system, our metabolism, fertility, cancer prevention, and a number of other vital functions. The best selenium sources are fish, shellfish, organ meat, eggs, dairy products, and Brazil nuts (in particular). European agricultural crops, unfortunately, are generally low in selenium, and although fish and shellfish are counted as good selenium sources, it is not possible to reach the optimal intake of this nutrient even with a five-servings-per-week seafood diet (according to a study conducted by scientists from the Danish Cancer Society).
Back in 1996, an American scientist named Larry C. Clark published the so-called NPC study (Nutritional Prevention of Cancer), which showed that daily supplementation with 200 micrograms of organic selenium yeast lowered the cancer mortality by 50%.
Unfortunately, articles often refer to a later study (SELECT), where scientists used selenium in combination with vitamin E. Surprisingly, this study did not show a cancer-protective effect. What should be mentioned is that the researchers had used selenomethionine. This selenium source, unlike organic selenium yeast, has no documented positive results against cancer. Another thing is that the scientists used synthetic vitamin E.
Is it misleading to use the SELECT study as leverage for discouraging people from using selenium for cancer prevention. It would be more fair to mention that selenomethionine supplements cannot be expected to provide an effect and to recommend organic selenium yeast, instead. This selenium source has the potential to save millions of human lives in selenium-depleted areas such as Europe.

Selenium supplements can compensate for the low selenium intake. Preparations with selenium yeast, which contains a variety of different organic selenium species, deliver the same variety of selenium sources as you get from eating a balanced diet with many different selenium-containing foods.

Chromium yeast has the best absorption

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved a health claim for chromium that is helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels and normal macronutrient metabolism. In addition, EFSA has concluded that organic chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better in the body than synthetically chromium sources like chromium picolinate and chromium chloride. If you want to control your blood sugar levels with a healthy diet and a chromium supplement, choose organic chromium yeast.

It is important that the active ingredients in a food supplement reach the blood and enter the cells, so they can support the many different enzyme processes.

Magnesium is not just for treating constipation

Most of our magnesium is found inside our cells, where it supports over 300 different enzyme processes. Magnesium is particularly important for the bones, the energy turnover, the nervous system, muscle function, digestion, the liquid balance, and blood pressure.
There is magnesium in different nutritional supplements and in certain medical drugs.
Magnesium sources like magnesium carbonate, magnesium acetate, magnesium orotate, and magnesium amino acid chelate are easily absorbed in the body and are therefore able to reach the cells. Magnesium oxide (E530) is a tablet filler that is also used against heartburn and constipation (magnesia). This magnesium source has poor absorption and does not affect the body’s magnesium status.

Iron and different iron sources in supplements

Most iron is found inside the hemoglobin of our red blood cells, which supplies oxygen to cells and tissues. A smaller amount is found inside important enzymes in the brain and other places.
Iron from animal sources (heme iron) has better absorption than iron from vegetable sources (non-heme iron). Optimal absorption of iron also requires sufficient stomach acid and vitamin C. You should normally only take iron supplements if your physician has diagnosed an iron deficiency. Iron in excess amounts generates free radicals that are potentially harmful.

Always take your nutritional supplements with a meal. This increases the absorption and helps the different nutrients work better together.

Conditions that impair the uptake of vitamins and minerals

Too little stomach acid

Too little stomach acid and the use of antacids may impair the uptake of B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

An unhealthy gut flora

Our enormous intestinal microflora consists of lactic acid bacteria and other microorganisms that are involved in our digestion and nutrient uptake. If your gut flora is thrown off balance by unhealthy eating habits, the use of antibiotics, stress, and other factors, your nutrient absorption may be affected.

Lack of lipids

A diet without fats decreases your uptake of lipid-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)

Phytin in corn and bread

Phytin is found as salts (phytates) in all types of corn. Phytin binds calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, which is excreted in the feces. When processing corn into bread and other foods it is important to break down phytin with an enzyme called phytase, which most types of corn contain. This decomposition is possible though slow rising of bread for 24 hours or by soaking corn and/or seeds in water for 24 hours.

Too much calcium

Too much calcium from dairy products and supplements inhibits the uptake of iron and the utilization of magnesium

A large consumption of coffee and tea

The content of tannic acid binds iron

Oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is found in different plants such as spinach, tea, rhubarb, and cocoa. A large intake of oxalic acid may inhibit the uptake of calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Ageing processes

As you grow older, it may become increasingly difficult to absorb and utilize different nutrients. One reason may be slower enzyme processes. The body’s endogenous Q10 synthesis gradually decreases from the age of 20-25 years and continues to decrease throughout life. Many older people have difficulty with absorbing zinc and vitamin B12.


Medicine may inhibit the uptake and utilization of several nutrients. One should pay attention to this.

Reasons why we need to supplement with essential nutrients

  • Nutrient-depleted soil
  • Poor quality of the food we eat
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Lack of sunshine
  • Ageing processes
  • Impaired enzyme processes
  • Medicine that inhibits the uptake or utilization of nutrients
  • Stress, pregnancy, high-performance sports, and other individuals needs


Alehagen U, et al. Cardiovascular mortality and N-Terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Int J Cardiol. 2012

Clark LC et al. "Effects of Selenium Supplementation for Cancer Prevention in Patients with Carcinoma of the Skin", Journal of the American Medical Association: 276:1957-1963 (1996).

Klein EA et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). Jama 2011

Pernille Lund. Q10 fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014

Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny Videnskab 2013

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