Probiotics Help You Absorb Nutrients
Written By Ana Aleksic, MSc Pharm

Probiotics Help You Absorb Nutrients

Absorption is the passage of end products of digestion from the GI tract into the bloodstream and body tissues. These nutrients supply energy and nourishment essential for daily functioning. Lack of absorption of nutrients (both macro and micro) can lead to protein and several vitamin and mineral deficiencies – that is to say, malabsorption leading to malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies seem to gobble up about two billion people around the world.

While re-populating the gut with beneficial bacteria, high-end probiotics also ensure proper absorption of nutrients ingested as part of our diet. Following are a few evidence-based implications of probiotics in enhancing the delivery of micronutrients to our body tissues:

1. Augment Iron Absorption

When used on a regular basis, these fortified microbial strains prevent iron deficiency by boosting iron absorption.

The fermentation of healthy bacteria in the colon produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate and propionate. SCFAs increase the absorption of iron from the initial portion of the colon. [1] Hence, probiotics may serve as a promising therapy for anemia secondary to intestinal worm infestation as well as for under-nourished children. The SCFAs are considered as a powerhouse for intestinal health. Elderly people who already have an altered microbiome tend to produce less SCFAs and thus have a greater propensity to develop malnutrition. [2]

The significance of probiotics in improving the nutrient absorption is evident from a research performed by the University of Aberdeen in the UK. According to this study, administering prebiotics and probiotics can tremendously improve therapeutic outcomes in malnourished individuals. These individuals also include those battling with life-threatening conditions like cancer. [3]

2. Accelerate Calcium Delivery to Body Tissues

Probiotics augment dietary calcium absorption and are therefore essential for bone and dental health. A study conducted by the researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Malaysia demonstrated a significant improvement in bone mineral density (used as a marker for osteoporosis) after the administration of Lactobacillus strains owing to enhanced calcium absorption. [4] The probiotic-induced expansion of the absorptive surface of villi could also account for the augmented dietary nutrient absorption.

3. Relieve Diarrhea

Malabsorption syndromes in particular cause excessive diarrhea that further depletes the body of nutrients. Healthy gut microbes help mitigating diarrhea, preventing the fecal loss of nutrients. This anti-diarrheal effect is also observed in children who are fed a probiotic supplement, consequently demonstrating a significant improvement in weight and height, relative to those who are fed a supplement with similar caloric value but lacking probiotics. [5]

4. Directly Increase the Formation of the Vitamin B Complex group

The viable bacterial strains, specifically Lactobacillus reuteri serve as a route for vitamin B12, folate (vitamin B9), and thiamine (vitamin B1) synthesis. Vitamin B12 deficiency contributes to severe anemia and neurological deficits. [6]


Supplementing probiotics can help us reap their immense benefits, including nutrient absorption.


Written by:
Dr. Rasheed Huma



    1. Bouglé D, Vaghefi-Vaezzadeh N, Roland N et al. Influence of short-chain fatty acids on iron absorption by proximal colon. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2002;37(9):1008-11.
    2. Claesson MJ, Jeffery IB, Conde S, Power SE et al. Gut microbiota composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature. 2012 Aug;488(7410):178-84. doi: 10.1038/nature11319.
    3. Sheridan PO, Bindels LB, Saulnier DM, et al. Can prebiotics and probiotics improve therapeutic outcomes for undernourished individuals? Gut Microbes. 2014;5(1):74-82. doi:10.4161/gmic.27252.
    4. Parvaneh K, Jamaluddin R, Karimi G, Erfani R. Effect of Probiotics Supplementation on Bone Mineral Content and Bone Mass Density. The Scientific World Journal. 2014;2014:595962. doi:10.1155/2014/595962.
    5. Saran S, Gopalan S, Krishna TP. Use of fermented foods to combat stunting and failure to thrive. Nutrition. 2002;18(5):393-6.
    6. Saulnier DM, Santos F, Roos S, et al. Exploring Metabolic Pathway Reconstruction and Genome-Wide Expression Profiling in Lactobacillus reuteri to Define Functional Probiotic Features. Gibas C, ed. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(4):e18783. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018783.
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