Bioperine and Bioavailability – The Nutrient Sidekick

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Bioperine and Bioavailability – The Nutrient Sidekick

Bioperine comes from Piper nigrum which is known as black pepper. This black pepper abstract is added to a wide range of supplements and foods to increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Black pepper has been used in India for hundreds of years for its medicinal benefits and now is available in a potent extract form. Dried pepper contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Bioperine is an extract form that has been clinically tested and patented in the U.S.. Studies demonstrate that is significantly increases bioavailability of certain nutrients by increasing absorption in the gut.

Bioperine works on two different levels (cellular and molecular) by initiating thermogenesis. Your body generates heat during metabolism. There are two types of metabolic reactions known as catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is where a larger molecule is broken down into two smaller molecules and in the body this generally requires an enzyme. Catabolism involves the breaking of a bond. The breaking of a bond releases energy in the form of heat. Enzymes can work in anabolic mode by taking to smaller molecules and putting them together to make a larger one. This requires heat/some form of energy/enzymes to make it go. When you take in food, the stomach releases hydrochloric acid and some enzymes that chemically break down food into smaller particles, releasing
heat energy. When ingesting a big meal, you’ll notice that you feel warmer inside. That’s coming from all the chemical bonds you are breaking in the food ingested.

Another way to generate heat is by contracting skeletal muscle. When your body’s temperature drops, your brain tells your skeletal muscles to contract and this generates the breaking of many chemical bonds creating a lot of heat. This process is referred to as shivering genesis. This is important because the brain must maintain a constant 37 degree C to work properly or it begins to shut down.

Another way your body can generate heat (thermogenesis) is by opening ion channels in cell membranes including mitochondria (where ATP is made inside the cell). Ions flowing or exchange of electrons generates heat. You’ve probably noticed that a wire gets warm when an electrical current is moving on it. Moving electrons in a conduction band on a copper wire generates heat. Bioperine’s thermogenic mechanism is multifaceted and only partially understood at this time.

Thermogenic foods are often used as weight loss foods and they play an important role in the breakdown of foods we take in. When food is better digested it becomes more bioavailable, hence better absorbed. Bioperine is know to contain thermogenic molecules that work with your body’s natural thermogenic properties thereby increasing bioavailability. So, you don’t need to eat more food but rather digest it better.

The molecule responsible for increased thermogenesis in Bioperine is piperine. It is a pungent alkaloid and is classified as a thermonutrient. This molecule is responsible for the burning sensation in your mouth. This molecule gives your system a little extra heat which aids in the breakdown of nutrients.

Bioperine doesn’t work with all nutrient molecules. There are certain botanicals, minerals and vitamins it can be co-administered with. These botanicals, minerals and vitamins are listed below.

Herbal Extracts

Bioperine increases bioavailability of Ginkgo biloba, Ashwagandha, Boswellia serrata, curcumin and capsaicin.


Bioperine increases bioavailability of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12. It also increases absorption of Vitamins C, A, D, E and K along with CoQ10.


Bioperine increases absorption of Alpha-carotene, Beta-carotene, Beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin as well as pine bark bioflavonoids.

Amino Acids

Bioperine increases absorption of lysine, isoleucine, leucine, threonine, valine, tryptophan, phenylalanine and methionine.


Bioperine increases bioavailability of calcium, iron, inc, vanadium, selenium, chromium, iodine, potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium and germanium

Bioperine versus Black Pepper

There is no doubt that black pepper is good for you and a great flavor enhancer. However, it doesn’t have the same effect as bioperine extract (piperine). It’s all about particle size. The extract is in small particulate size that can’t be achieved with ground pepper. This provides for better digestion and absorption. Even though bioperine has been added to a number of supplements, you can take it by itself. A lot of people take bioperine alone for its thermogenic and healing properties.

Several clinical trials have been conducted in the U.S. and they measured the enhanced absorption generated by bioperine with several nutrients. Nutrients were measured in blood samples after ingestion with and without bioperine extract. They found that selenium absorption increased by 30 percent, beta-carotene absorption increased by 60 percent, CoQ10 increased by over 30 percent and vitamin C increased by over 50 percent. These trials administered 5mg of bioperine per dose.

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of action of how the bioactive molecule of bioperine (piperine) increases bioavailability is still not fully understood. So, it is a work progress. There are several theories based on research. Generally, it is believed that piperine increases intestinal blood flow as well as increasing the emulsifying content in the gut lumen.

One theory of how piperine works is that it interferes with an enzyme known as UDP-glucuronyltransferase (UGT) in the small intestine and the liver. This process affects how the kidneys work. Interfering with UGT changes the process of excretion of certain nutritional molecules by the kidneys by blocking excretion to some extent. That’s because the natural state of the nutrient (unchanged by UGT) is less soluble thereby excretion is less efficient. This allows for the nutrient to remain in the body longer. UGT enzymes attach a glucuronic acid moiety to xenobiotics and other substrates to allow removal from the body. Xenobiotics happen to be molelcules that are found in the body but not made there nor are they are they expected to be found there (i.e. drugs, piperine). This pathway is important for drug elimination or in general other xenobiotics such as dietary substances and toxins. When the UGT enzyme is working it transfers a glucuronosyl group to a given substrate (botanical, mineral, vitamin etc.) that makes the substrate more polar and therefore more soluble in blood. When the substrate is more soluble in blood, it is easier to filter it out by the kidney and pass into urine.

Another theory has it that vanilloid receptors are involved. Vanilloid receptors are highly concentrated on afferent neurons in the intestine. Piperine can bind to vanilloid receptors and activate a membrane-bound adenyl cyclase enzyme. This enzyme catalyzes cAMP synthesis which acts as a second messenger that activates an enzyme called protein kinase A. This enzyme increases gut mobility and dilates blood vessels in the intestinal wall. It has been suggested that this may increase digestion and absorption.

Research supporting the vanilloid receptor theory comes from a family of transient receptor potential ion channels (TRP channels). These channels are a group of ion channels found in the plasma membrane of many cells types. Once such type is TRPV (“V” for vanilloid) which binds much more than just vanilla. These channels mediate a wide range of sensations, for example, pain, hotness, warmth, coldness, tastes, pressure and vision. Some of these channels can be activated by molecules found in spices such as garlic (allicin), chilli pepper (capsaicin), yet, others are activated by menthol, camphor, peppermint and even marijuana (THC). These channels can be activated by a number of different mechanisms that are unrelated to each other and are short lived. TRPV was the first channel studied and it is sensitive to capsaicin and is called the capsaicin or vanilloid receptor.

And, yet another theory has it that piperine increases absorption by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes from the intestinal wall. Nevertheless, which every mechanism is involved or perhaps all of them, piperine increases bioavailability for certain nutrients.


Bioperine extract is isolated from Piper nigrum commonly known as black pepper. It has been added to some foods and supplements to increase bioavailability of certain botanicals, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. The bioactive molecule in bioperine is piperine. Bioperine has been clinically tested in the U.S. and is patented for human consumption. It is safe and effective. The mechanism of action is not well understood but believed to be oriented around thermogenesis.

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