In pharmacology, bioavailability (BA) is a subcategory of absorption and is the fraction of an administered dose of unchanged drug that reaches the systemic circulation, one of the principal pharmacokinetic properties of drugs. By definition, when a medication is administered intravenously, its bioavailability is 100%. However, when a medication is administered via other routes (such as orally), its bioavailability generally decreases (due to incomplete absorption and first-pass metabolism) or may vary from patient to patient. Bioavailability is one of the essential tools in pharmacokinetics, as bioavailability must be considered when calculating dosages for non-intravenous routes of administration.
For dietary supplements, herbs and other nutrients in which the route of administration is nearly always oral, bioavailability generally designates simply the quantity or fraction of the ingested dose that is absorbed.
Bioavailability is defined slightly differently for drugs as opposed to dietary supplements primarily due to the method of administration and Food and Drug Administration regulations.