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Opti: the absorption story

If you see the word 'opti' in front of one of our product names, this is an example of one of the latest innovations to support and improve the body’s ability to absorb as much goodness from our products as possible. Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical and Director at Healthspan, explains the meaning behind the term and takes us through the benefits of 'opti' in relation to supplements.

Q. Firstly, what does 'opti' actually mean?

A. This part is pretty simple. Dr Sarah says, 'The term 'opti' essentially means that the formulation of the supplement is optimised to ensure maximum absorption by the body.'

Q. What is the difference between a standard supplement and an 'opti' supplement?

A. An optimised formula is based on research into the most bioavailable ingredients. An optimised supplement will supply nutrients that are quickly absorbed, in a form that your cells can use as speedily as possible.'

If you're confused about 'bioavailability', it refers to how well a nutrient is absorbed and used in the body.

Dr Sarah says, 'The ingredients in standard supplements may be less easily absorbed by some people, either because they are less soluble, or because your cells may need to do more work to convert the ingredients into the active form. When supplements are less easily absorbed by the body it can take longer to obtain the positive benefits.'

Q. How does Healthspan apply 'opti' to its products?

A. 'Opti-Turmeric is a great example of an optimised supplement formula as it provides turmeric in the form of liquid micelles that are more easily absorbed. In fact, over a 24-hour period your body can absorb as much as 185 times the amount of active ingredients via an opti-turmeric capsule, compared with standard turmeric powder. It is also 7 times faster acting.

Another good example is Opti-Magnesium, which contains two of the most easily absorbed sources of magnesium - magnesium citrate and dimagnesium malate.

Opti-Omega 3 also provides you with more of the beneficial fatty acids EPA and DHA than standard fish oils.'

Q. How does the 'opti' range compare to Healthspan's standard products?

A. 'While the Opti-range offers premium quality and absorption, younger people and those with a healthy digestive system will still absorb good amounts of nutrients from standard products.'

Q. Do standard products still work?

A. 'Of course. All Healthspan supplements are carefully formulated by experts to provide excellent nutritional value at the best possible price. However, we recognise that some people will benefit from the enhanced bioavailability provided by the Opti range.'

Dr Sarah's guide to absorbing supplements effectively

Ensuring you are taking your supplements in the best possible way for their absorption is just as important as remembering to take them. Follow these tips from Dr Sarah to make sure you are doing just that.

DO: Take after foodKnife and fork on blue plate

Most supplements are best taken immediately after food, to take advantage of stomach acids (just a few bites will do). If you’ve not eaten for more than 20 minutes, wait until you have a snack or juice.

DON'T: Take with hot drinksCup of tea on brown background

Avoid washing down supplements with tea or coffee, which can bind iron and other minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium, to reduce their absorption.

DO: Listen to packagingPill packet on pink background

Always stick within the recommended dosage and make sure to check instructions on the pack to see if they say ‘take with food’ or ‘don’t take on an empty stomach’.

Know what foods to take your supplements with

It's a good idea to be aware of which types of foods might help with the absorption of supplements. Dr Sarah says, 'Some minerals require good levels of stomach acidity for optimal absorption, while fat soluble ingredients, such as co-enzyme Q10, evening primrose oil, fish oils and vitamins A, D, E, K are absorbed more readily alongside foods supplying some fats.'

  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring
  • Avocado
  • Egg yolk
  • Full fat (5%) and semi-skimmed (2%) milk
  • This explains why some of our ranges contain foods that can aid absorption. Healthspan's Vitamin D3 50 Plus, for example, not only provides the optimum strength for people over the age of 50 but also includes olive oil for optimum absorption.

    If you're taking an iron supplement it's also worth bearing in mind swallowing it with orange juice can boost the amount of iron you absorb due to the vitamin C present, which keeps iron in its most soluble form.

Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan's Medical Director and holds degrees in Natural Sciences, Surgery and Medicine from the University of Cambridge. Having worked as a GP and hospital doctor, Dr Sarah now holds an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and specialises in nutrition. She is also an award-winning writer and author.

Find out more at Dr. Sarah Brewer's website, or read more about Healthspan's health experts.

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Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.