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How Do We Absorb Nutrients? Our IV Therapy Toronto Lounge Explains


In our functional medicine and IV therapy Toronto blog, we frequently write about improving your absorption of nutrients for optimal health. But have you wondered how key vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are assimilated into the body?  

For this article, the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre (TFMC) discloses how nutrient absorption works, and how we customize your treatment service. 

How the human body orally absorbs nutrients

First, we must understand how digestion works. Here’s an explanation: 

Picture yourself eating some food. You’re chewing it up with your teeth and saliva starts forming. Your saliva contains amylase, a digestive enzyme, and its goal is to disintegrate the carbohydrates in the food you eat. You swallow your food, and these chewed-up pieces trek down the esophagus (a pipe-shaped muscle in the chest that’s driven to move food downward by peristalsis). Then, when the chewed-up food reaches the stomach, it’s broken down further prior to travelling to the small intestine. The absorption of nutrients (i.e. fatty acids, carbohydrates, a medley of amino acids) takes place in the small intestine; meanwhile, the liver constructs bile, and the gallbladder will store bile while helping the body absorb fat. The pancreas will also be put to work by creating enzymes that aid in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Then from here, nutrients travel into your blood stream and are circulated to your cells. 

The digestive process appears to work like a well-oiled machine. But there are factors that can prevent the body from accumulating nutrients – which can cause nutritional deficits (i.e. mineral deficiencies) and impede your quality of life. For instance, “Numerous disorders can alter the physiological mechanisms that guarantee proper digestion and absorption of nutrients (macro- and micronutrients), leading to a wide variety of symptoms and nutritional consequences,” confirms a Nutrients article. 

Here’s why the body may have trouble absorbing vitamins: 

    • Chronic stress
    • Food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, and chronic conditions linked to digestion (i.e. Crohn’s, celiac disease)
    • Health conditions linked to the liver, gall bladder, and/or pancreas
    • Taking particular medications (i.e. proton pump inhibitors)
    • Damages to the intestines due to injuries or inflammation
    • Intestinal parasites
    • Undergoing cancer treatment (i.e. radiation) 

Take note that a wide range of vitamins are absorbed differently than others. Water-soluble and fat-soluble nutrients are examples: Water-soluble vitamins, which include ascorbic acid, vitamin B6 and B12, have an efficient absorption rate; but they easily leave the body when you urinate, which is why daily replenishment of these nutrients is needed. 

On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins (i.e. vitamin A, vitamin D) are stored in the body for future use (like a savings account). Because of this, they don’t require frequent daily replenishment compared to water-soluble supplements. In fact, when you consume fat-soluble supplements, some functional medicine providers (i.e. naturopathic doctors) suggest taking them with fatty foods to help maximize absorption. 

Taking optimal nutrients can help us thrive, and they’re attainable through a dietary intake of fresh food choices (lifestyle modifications) and oral supplementation. As everyone has unique core components, we do recommend consulting with a functional medicine provider to give your nutritional regime a “makeover”. This type of healthcare provider can customize your treatment plan for your needs, even potentially adding essential nutrients to your plan as oral supplementation or adjunct IV therapy. 

Why consider intravenous drips for additional support

At the TFMC, we cater to each individual patient’s nutritional needs. So, IV nutrient therapy can be prescribed for your tailored health plan. Here are a few reasons why IV therapy may be considered:

    • Oral supplementation is absorbed the same way as food, which means that digestive enzymes break their structures down, too. This also means that significant amounts of nutrients can be lost due to the role of enzymes disintegrating food. IV therapy drips bypass the digestive system because formulations are designed to immediately enter your veins and blood stream. (Note: regular oral supplementation must be continued if you decide to get vitamin IV therapy drips. Intravenous drips are not a replacement for oral supplementation; they are adjunct support tools for “topping up” your nutrient levels.) 
    • Since IV therapy treatments don’t use the digestive tract, the chances of experiencing unwanted digestive side effects are low. This is unlike oral tablets, which can sometimes cause an upset stomach.  
    • When IV drip treatments are administered in our IV Lounge, they are compounded with your specific dosages of vitamins. We formulate therapeutic doses in line with your unique biology, which takes into account your nutritional deficiency or health goals.

Taking supplements regularly could promote much-needed energy and overall positive effects for your health condition. So, have you noticed your mental clarity being “off” lately? Or do you want to heighten your physical performance such as  with taurine and other key nutrients? Please join the TFMC as a new patient today.

Support your nutrient levels in our clinic and IV Lounge

If you’re looking to achieve optimal health, let’s chat! We adhere to the integrative functional medicine model, which is how we can tailor a treatment service for individual patient needs. Conventional medicine (Western), naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, hormone replacement therapies, and other modalities are available in our Yorkville clinic. Treatment plans can be modified for various conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances, poor skin health, and other conditions.  

At the TFMC, a personalized nutritional assessment can be conducted to detect nutrient deficiencies. These test results – along with details about your lifestyle and environmental factors, health goals, medical history, and genetics – are used to customize your treatment plan. By understanding what your body is lacking and the symptoms you’re experiencing (i.e. brain fog, low energy levels, unexplained weight loss, weak immune function, poor muscle recovery, etc.), we can help alleviate discomfort while addressing the root cause of your health concerns. 

In our IV Lounge, we administer intravenous therapy for supportive measures. Doses of nutrients are adapted in line with integrative functional medicine. In addition to other treatment modalities, routine oral supplementation, and healthy living, drip therapy treatments can promote optimal functioning. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, glutamic acid, alpha lipoic acid, major antioxidants, and other natural ingredients can be compounded in our Lounge as IV therapy drips. Vitamin D booster shots may also be prescribed (ask us for more details!). 

If you have questions during your IV nutrient therapy session, let us know. A member of our wellness team – which consists of a medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, registered nurses and nurse practitioners – is available to monitor each IV session and tend to your queries. 

Supplementing with optimal nutrients can help foster health benefits for your wellness. Let’s introduce you to IV therapy from the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre –  reach out to us today to request your initial visit.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. You should always consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of information you have read from the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre website or other affiliate media. 



8 Tips for Absorbing More Nutrients from Your Food” by Marnie Soman Schwartz, Shape Magazine, February 16, 2017, viewed on December 30, 2023. 

Aging and Digestive Health: 6 Factors to Watch For” Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, posted June 29, 2016, viewed on December 29, 2023. 

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National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 11, Fat-Soluble Vitamins. Available from:

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