What Are Nutrients?

What Are Nutrients? And Why Do I Want Bioactive Ones? 

Can you answer the question, "What are nutrients?" 

Think about it for a moment . . . how would you define this important word? 

Here's how the Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines what nutrients are: 

A nourishing substance, a nutriment. 

And when you look under the definition of nutriment, you find that it's 

Any matter that, taken into a living organism, serves to sustain it in its existence, promoting growth, replacing loss, and providing energy. 

This is a pretty good definition of nutrients.  

Nutrients, the good stuff we get from food, are what sustain us. Nutrients give us energy to do things we need to get done each day. They build our body – our muscles, our nerves, our joint tissues, our skin, our hormones and neurotransmitters. They keep us alive. 

But let's look a little deeper into what nutrients are. Because by doing so, you'll understand better what your body needs and what we work so hard to create here at BioActive Nutrients. 

What Are Good Nutrients? And What Are Bad Nutrients? 

The truth is there are no bad nutrients. Only good ones. If you look back at the definition, nutrients are what keep us alive. 

Proteins, carbohydrates, fats and sugars along with all the micronutrients we depend on – like vitamins, minerals, special plant flavonoids and more – are all part of what keeps our body going. 

The bad comes when we get too much of one thing – or the wrong form of it. 

For example, sugar is not such a bad thing. Our whole energy cycle depends on glucose – the chemical term for sugar. 

But most of us get way too much of it in our diets. 

In 1999, the USDA concluded that the average American consumed close to 64 pounds of sugar a year.[1]  In 2009, the American Heart Association reported that that number had gone up to close to 84 pounds a year.[2] 

Even worse, we get most of this sugar from soda pop and processed foods.  We eat mostly refined white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. By getting sugar into our system this way we lose out on all the healthy micronutrients that come with the sugars we get when we eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 

But while sugar can be good for you, and thus a nutrient by definition, other food components are downright bad, without any redeeming qualities. 

For example, trans-fatty acids invented by margarine producers . . . or  artificial flavors and food colorings . . . do nothing for your survival. 

In fact they unquestioningly rob you of health. 

So now that we've clarified that all nutrients are intrinsically good, let's get even more specific . . . 

What Are Bioavailable Nutrients? 

It's one thing to put some good nutrients on your plate and tuck into them. 

It's another to make sure that after they go through your stomach, they actually get into your bloodstream where your body can use them. 

See, a lot of what we eat just doesn't get used. I'll spare you the details on the proof of this – I'm sure you're pretty familiar with the evidence in your toilet. 

Nonetheless, the nutrients we end up calling waste – aren't always garbage. A lot of what your body doesn't use is nourishment you need. But your body just isn't able to process it properly and absorb it. 

For example, you're probably pretty familiar with the need for calcium to help you build strong bones. 

However, your body can't do much with calcium unless it also has Vitamin D3.  From making sure you can absorb calcium in the gut, to helping your bone-building cells (osteoblasts) build new bone material, Vitamin D3 helps your body get and use calcium.[3] 

On the flip side, certain compounds found in foods make calcium less available. For example, the oxalic acid found in spinach and rhubarb can make it harder for your body to absorb calcium.[4] 

Finally, several studies have shown that the form of calcium itself can make all the difference in how well your body can use it.  According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, calcium citrate is much more bioavailable than calcium carbonate.[5] 

It's important to note that the less expensive form, calcium carbonate, is what you'll find in many supplements despite the evidence that your body can't absorb it as well. 

What Are Bioactive Nutrients? 

So now you know nutrients are found in the good foods you should be putting on your plate . . . 

And you understand that the next thing you're looking for in a nutrient is its bioavailability . . . 

After you've chewed and swallowed a few bites, you want to be sure this nutrient works its way into your bloodstream. 

But getting all these good nutrients into your bloodstream doesn't mean anything if the nutrient doesn't end up doing the job its supposed to do. 

Vitamin D provides a great example of the third thing you need to look for in a nutrient – its bioactivity. 

Bioactivity is how powerfully a nutrient works in your body. 

Here's what I mean: 

When it comes to Vitamin D, there are several forms. Supplements contain either Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).  While they're both Vitamin D's, their structures are slightly different. Vitamin D2 is made by yeast exposed to sunlight. 

Vitamin D3 is the only one made by plants and vertebrates.  It's what we make when sunlight hits our skin. 

Most importantly, D3 is the form that our body can use most effectively. 

First, it's more bioavailable. We absorb D3 70% - 200% better than D2

But it's not just more bioavailable. The second reason D3 is better for you is this: 

When it hits our bloodstream, D3 is able to bind with the Vitamin D receptors on our cells at a much higher rate than D2.[6] 

This is important. 

Says Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Ph D and author of The Instinct to Heal and Anticancer: A New Way of Life, "Vitamin D is possibly the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and save yourself from many chronic diseases, including cancer.”[7] 

But if it doesn't bind with the cells it needs to . . . And thus doesn't start the chain of events we need it to fire off . . . 

You lose out – big time

Some health officials still contend that both D's are equivalent. Even the Office of Dietary Supplements asserts that the two are identical except in the highest doses. [8] 

But the proof is in the pudding. Studies using D3 have shown consistently that it helps prevent fractures and preserve bone strength. 

Meanwhile studies using D2 have been much spottier. [9] 

So you not only need nutrients that you can absorb, you need ones – like D3 – that do the job you eat them for.  Like keeping your bones strong. 

Now You Know What Nutrients Are – And What To Look For! 

We started off with just a simple question: What are nutrients? 

Who knew this one question could take you into a whole new understanding of nutrition? 

Yet this, in fact, sums up our mission as a company.  

The choices for nutrition are growing in leaps and bounds as people catch on to the idea that food can be your medicine. 

You can see this for yourself every time you see all the new special health foods and vitamins in the supermarket. 

The new boxes and bottles with headlines yelling, "Low-fat", "More Energy" and "Heart-healthy" are practically bursting off the shelves. 

While the new options for enjoying good food and even better health are exciting, it can also be overwhelming. 

It's hard to know by looking at the labels, which foods and supplements have the right amount of certain nutrients. 

Or if the nutrients in there are the most readily bioavailable . . . 

Or if they are bioactive, ready to go to work in your body . . . 

On the other hand BioActive Nutrients seeks out the most bioavailable and bioactive nutrients in every formula we create. 

We make it easier for you to navigate the world of nutrition by giving you nutrients you can count on for better health.


[1] http://www.cspinet.org/new/sugar_limit.html

[2] http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=semi-sweet-americans-should-cut-sug-2009-08-25

[3] http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind/

[4] http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/calcium/

[5] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/412220

[6] http://www.ajcn.org/content/84/4/694.full.pdf+html

[7] http://www.vitamindhealth.org/2010/02/the-vitamin-d-solution-dr-holicks-new-book/

[8] http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind/

[9] http://www.ajcn.org/content/84/4/694.full.pdf+html

**This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.