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Organic Chemistry
Found in: Page 128

Short Answer

Question: Mineral oil, a mixture of high molecular weight alkanes, is sometimes used as a laxative. Why are individuals who use mineral oil for this purpose advised to avoid taking it at the same time they consume foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A?


The mineral oils absorb the essential nutrients and thus interfere with the absorption tendency of the body.

See the step by step solution

Step by Step Solution

Step 1: Mineral oils

Mineral oils are made by the ultra-refining, purification, and processing of petroleum. These oils are used in food because of their exceptional property to work well with very high and very low temperatures.

These oils are non-toxic and lighter than other oils.

Step 2: Vitamins absorption by mineral oils

Mineral oils have been found to absorb several micro-nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Step 3: Explanation

Since mineral oils absorb micro-nutrients, they interfere with the nutrient absorption of the body. The micro-nutrients get absorbed in the mineral oil that is consumed soon after taking the food.

Thus, the nutrients are not absorbed by the body. Instead, they are passed out of the body by remaining absorbed in the mineral oils and alternatively- unabsorbed by the body.

It is therefore advised to take mineral oils on an empty stomach.

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