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What Is Black Pepper Extract and Does It Really Increase Nutrient Absorption?

How beneficial a dietary supplement will be depends on nutrient absorption. If your body can't efficiently absorb and utilize nutrients, you won't be able to get the full benefits of any product. To improve the bioavailability or absorption levels of dietary supplements, manufacturers may add a supportive ingredient: black pepper extract. Read on to learn what it is and how it helps your body utilize supplements.

What Is Black Pepper Extract?

Black pepper extract comes from the Piper nigrum plant that is native to southwest India but is now grown commercially all over the world. For centuries, people have used the dried, unripe fruit of the plant as a seasoning in food. This fruit is commonly referred to as a peppercorn.

The term black pepper extract refers to a concentrated substance derived from peppercorns. It contains piperine, a substance that gives black pepper its spicy taste. Studies have found that piperine may provide a number of benefits, including boosting the bioavailability of supplements.

How Does Black Pepper Extract Increase Bioavailability?

Black pepper extract enhances bioavailability by:

*Acting as a P-glycoprotein inhibitor: P-glycoproteins are substances found in the lining of our kidneys, adrenal glands and intestines. Their job is to move nutrients in and out of cells. Piperine may help to lessen the activity of these glycoproteins so that the nutrients found in supplements stay in cells.

*Supporting thermogenesis: Black pepper extract may assist with thermogenesis, the process of converting nutrients to energy. It may do so by activating hormones called catecholamines. When these hormones get activated in the digestive system, the speed of nutrient absorption increases.

*Slowing down glucuronidation: Glucuronidation is one of the ways that our body removes drugs and other substances from the body. Piperine may slow down this process so that the nutrients found in dietary supplements stay in the body longer.

What Is Bioperine?

Bioperine is a proprietary black pepper extract. In ordinary black pepper extract, the amount of piperine varies. Most extracts are only 5 to 9% piperine. By comparison, Bioperine is standardized to contain 95% piperine. As a result, Bioperine may have more of the key chemical that increases black pepper extract. At Body Kitchen, we use Bioperine as a supportive ingredient in supplements like Body Kitchen Mega NAC + Quercetin and Body Kitchen Keratin Enrich to enhance absorption.

Which Nutrients Are Supported Most by Ingesting Black Pepper Extract?

According to scientific research, black pepper extract is highly beneficial for the following nutrients:

*Iron: Red blood cells need the mineral iron to produce oxygen-carrying hemoglobin and for many other functions such as production of new DNA. One study found that people who took Bioperine with an iron supplement for 56 days had higher levels of hemoglobin.

*Beta-carotene: This form of vitamin A is vital for heart, eye and immune system health. In one study, half of the participants were given 5 milligrams of piperine per day and another group was given a sugar pill. After two weeks, beta-carotene levels had nearly doubled in the group that took the black pepper supplement.

*Antioxidants: Studies have shown that piperine helps the body absorb and utilize coenzyme Q10 (COQ10), resveratrol and other antioxidants. These supplements help fight the effects of free radicals that drive the aging process and contribute to disease by damaging cells.

*Curcumin: An extract from turmeric, curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, Bioperine was shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%.

*Vitamin B6: This essential vitamin is necessary for metabolism function, immune health and more. The vitamin is water-soluble and exits the body rather quickly. However, research shows that piperine can slow down the removal of vitamin B6. In one study, people who took vitamin B6 with Bioperine had 2.5 times more of the vitamin in their blood than those who didn't take the proprietary piperine after two hours. Two hours later, the vitamin B6 levels in the Bioperine group were 1.4 times higher.

What Are the Other Benefits of Black Pepper Extract?

In addition to increasing the bioavailability of supplements, black pepper extract may have other health benefits. Piperine is thought to act as an antioxidant and may help support heart and nervous system health. In addition, the supplement has been shown to enhance stomach acid production to aid in digestion. It may also aid in the activities of white blood cells that protect the body from infections due to bacteria and viruses.

Possible Side Effects of Black Pepper and Piperine

Studies suggest that supplements that provide piperine doses of 5 to 20 milligrams per serving are safe for most people. However, side effects are possible. Black pepper extract could cause burning sensations in the stomach and esophagus and may contribute to indigestion or acid reflux in some people.

Just as piperine can enhance the bioavailability of supplements, it may also make your body absorb more of some medications, such as antihistamines for allergies. As a result, supplements that contain black pepper extract may increase the risk of side effects from other drugs.

For best results, talk to your medical provider before adding a black pepper extract supplement to your diet. They can advise you on what side effects to look out for and let you know if it's safe to combine piperine with other supplements and medications that you take.