As much as we may work hard to have a well-rounded diet, everyone naturally has gaps in their nutrition. Perhaps you had a cheat day…which became a cheat week after little to no coaxing. Or maybe you’re the type of person who tracks all of your meals diligently, but you live in a colder climate so you’re missing some Vitamin D in the winter months. Or you could be working to become a vegetarian or vegan and need to make up for the lost protein and dairy food sources. Whatever it may be, you want to make sure you’re choosing vitamins that will give you the maximum nutritional value. And, as recent studies have indicated, the best way to get the most out of your vitamins may be through fermented supplements.
What are Fermented Supplements?
To understand fermented supplements, you must first understand the process of food fermentation. This is the natural process through which carbohydrates are converted into alcohol or acids by microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. Fermentation causes the microorganisms to change the elements within the food, giving them extra nutritional value. The fermenting process is typically used to create foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, alcohol, and wine.
Fermented vitamins and supplements have undergone a similar process. The process typically involves either lactic acid fermentation, ethanol fermentation, or fermentation through bacteria, enzymes, or yeasts.
How Fermented Supplements are Different
The difference between fermented supplements and those that are unfermented is that fermentation can make the nutrients easier for the body to digest and, can therefore allow the body to more easily absorb the vitamin benefits. Comparing it once again to the normal process of fermentation in foods, let’s look at milk. When milk is fermented, the lactose breaks down into simpler components. Therefore, some people who are lactose intolerant are still able to digest yogurt without a problem. Fermented supplements act similarly in the body, allowing the body to digest them more easily and maximize the nutritional benefits.
Take New Chapter supplements, for example. Rather than formulate vitamins with synthetic or isolated nutrients that are more difficult to digest, the company utilizes a vitamin fermentation process that involves organic Saccharomyces yeast and whole foods. The yeast will absorb the nutrients into its cell structure, thereby breaking them down and making them easier for the body to digest and absorb.
According to Genuine Health, “Recent studies have shown that fermentation magnifies the benefits of plants and herbal blends and in some cases produces unique bioactive phytochemicals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds that did not exist prior to fermentation.” For example, the fermentation of rice bran can produce phytochemicals that contain antioxidants that can’t be found in un-fermented rice bran. Because of their added nutritional value, fermented ingredients can protect against chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
When we don’t get enough fermented food or supplements in our diets, it decreases the number of healthy bacteria in our bodies. Isomalto-oligosaccharide, for example, is a fermented fiber. When fermented, it has prebiotic properties that can help with cholesterol, mineral absorption, blood sugar, and the regulation of bowel movements.
Fermented supplements and foods are proven to be better for our body’s nutrient absorption. They can also improve our body’s immune functions. Fermentation may enhance natural killer cell activity, our body’s first line of defense when it comes to infections.
The fermentation process can also improve the bioavailability of amino acids in supplement ingredients. After the fermentation process of sprouted brown rice protein, the amino acid profile increases to be comparable to mother’s milk. In addition, it gives the brown rice protein a 97% correlation to whey protein isolate. Similar to amino acids, the bioavailability of magnesium, vitamin B, and zinc can also drastically increase through the fermentation process.