Beyond Pills: How to Maximize the Impact of Supplements with Delivery Methods

Jul 28, 2023Supplements

Supplements are an excellent way to fill gaps in an otherwise healthy diet, ensuring that you obtain sufficient amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for well-being and longevity. However, differences in production and absorption can significantly impact how much of your supplement will work as intended and how much may be flushed out due to poor utilization.

The delivery method can also significantly impact their effectiveness. Liposomal supplements, vegetarian capsules, liquid supplements, suppositories, and innovative new delivery systems are some of the latest breakthroughs in nutrient delivery systems that can help maximize the impact of supplements. By choosing the right delivery method, you can ensure that your supplements are working as intended and providing the maximum benefit to your health.

Oral supplements

Oral supplements are the most common and convenient method when supplements are taken in the form of capsules, tablets, softgels, powders, chewable, gummies, or liquids.

Pros

Oral supplements are widely available and easy to administer with a wide array of formulations, dosages, and combinations. This allows individuals to choose supplements tailored to their specific needs, such as vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, or specialty formulations.

Cons

However, because the absorption goes through the digestive system, it can impact the absorption and bioavailability of oral supplements. Factors like stomach acid, enzymatic activity, and gastrointestinal transit time can affect the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients, potentially reducing their effectiveness.

Liquid supplements are one of the easiest and most readily absorbed delivery methods among oral types. They are a perfect choice for those looking for a greater way to adjust a dose or for those nutrients which are fat-soluble, like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Liquid supplements are quickly absorbed into the body, and they are a good choice for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.

Worth to mention, however, that certain oral supplements, especially at higher dosages, can cause digestive discomfort, such as stomach upset, bloating, or diarrhea. Some individuals may experience adverse reactions or interactions with medications when taking oral supplements, necessitating caution and monitoring.

Vegetarian capsules

Vegetarian capsules, also known as veggie capsules, are a popular delivery method for supplements. Vegetarian capsules are plant-derived, meaning that the capsules’ composition is made up of plant-derived materials. For people who have religious or dietary restrictions, these capsules are ideal. As ingredients are made from plants, people who are sensitive to dairy or wheat would find them a better alternative. One benefit of using these capsules is that they can dissolve faster than regular capsules, and they are easily digestible.

 

Vegetarian capsules are generally smooth and easy to swallow, making them more comfortable for individuals who may have difficulty with larger tablets or other delivery methods. They are generally stable and resistant to changes in temperature, humidity, and light. This can help preserve the quality and shelf life of the encapsulated supplements.

Vegetarian capsules

Compared to other delivery methods, such as liposomal or intravenous (see below), vegetarian capsules rely on digestion for the release and absorption of nutrients. This process may vary among individuals and could affect the bioavailability of certain nutrients.

The manufacturing process for vegetarian capsules is more complex compared to gelatin capsules. Achieving consistent quality and maintaining the capsules’ structural integrity may pose challenges for some manufacturers.

Some substances, especially those with specific pH requirements or solubility characteristics, may not be suitable for encapsulation in vegetarian capsules. It’s important to ensure that the supplement is compatible with the capsule material to prevent degradation or interaction issues.

Vegetarian capsules are typically more expensive compared to gelatin capsules due to the higher cost of plant-based materials and the additional manufacturing complexity. This cost factor could impact the overall affordability of the supplement.

However, vegetarian capsules are often recognized as being one of the most cost-effective methods, and they are a great choice for those who have difficulty swallowing pills. Your body quickly breaks down the outer shell, leaving the powdered nutrients to digest. Swallowing a capsule is efficient – quick, no mess, no fuss! 

Special ingredients

Some supplements contain special ingredients, or enhancers,  which can improve the absorption or bioavailability (amount of ingredient circulating in your blood) of certain supplements, such as CoQ10curcuminmilk thistlegreen tea, grape seed, ginkgo,  and resveratrol.

These enhancers may include substances like piperine, quercetin, or certain phospholipids. Co-administering supplements with absorption enhancers can potentially enhance their bioavailability.

Enhancers typically act in the gut to either improve solubility or reduce the amount of enzymatic breakdown that occurs there. By allowing you to absorb more active ingredients, the supplement may be more potent, meaning that a smaller dose may be used. At the same time, enhancers may increase the absorption or otherwise interact with other supplements or drugs which you take, so it is important to use caution.

Time-release systems

One of the new delivery systems is time-release, which also be written as “sustained-release,” “delayed-release,” or “extended-release.” They might also be labeled as “prolonged-release” or “modified-release” capsules or tablets. These descriptions all have a similar meaning.

If you are interested in the latest YouTube videos, publications, and events related to longevity, just click on the corresponding words, and you will be redirected to the associated web pages.

Source: Research Outreach

Time-release technology is designed to release nutrients to the body continuously over an extended period of time.

Thus, a slow-release system for supplements can control substance release within the gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin C timed release
Melatonin timed release
B-complex Vitamins timed release
Vitamin B Complex timed release
Niacin timed release
Vitamin complex for seniors timed release

Current drug-delivery systems use chemically synthesized polymers (synthetic substances made up of repeating subunits of large molecules). Permitted medication coating agents include methacrylic acid copolymers, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose phthalate, and ethyl cellulose. Coating the medication in such substances ensures that it makes it through the stomach without being broken down by the gastric acid and reaches the small intestine, where it can then be absorbed. 

While the pharmaceutical industry is permitted to use these substances in medications, the food industry is not permitted to use them in food supplements in a range of geographical locations, including Japan, the USA, and the EU.

Thus, the supplement industry is developing its own slow-release systems, and some time-release supplements are currently available on the market such as Purely Holistic Vitamin C, Puritan’s Pride Melatonin 5, Bronson Super Vitamin B Complex, Nature’s Blend Niacin, Mega Vita Min™ for Seniors, and others.

To explore the benefits of time-released supplements even further, it is best to discuss them with your healthcare practitioner to find a good fit for your personal needs.

Dr. Junichiro Wakamatsu, a section leader within the R&D division of Bizen Chemical Co., Japan, is pioneering award-winning food-grade controlled-release technology in the hope that, in the future, consumers will have more confidence in the efficacy of the supplements they buy.

Further studies analyzing compounds in the tablet-delivery system are needed to determine therapeutic effects. This is because different compounds tend to have unique properties that affect how well they are absorbed. This might include:

  • how quickly and to what degree they dissolve in stomach acid and gastrointestinal fluid,
  • the permeability of the gut lining,
  • how big an area of membrane is available for absorption,
  • the effective dose of the substance being tested.

Transdermal patches

Transdermal patches have gained recognition as a highly effective delivery method, especially for medications. However, some supplements can also be administered this way, like Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D complexIronResveratrolVitamin B12Glutathione, and others.

These patches allow for the controlled release of active ingredients directly into the bloodstream through the skin. By bypassing the digestive system, transdermal patches offer a convenient and efficient way to achieve systemic absorption of specific supplements.

Nasal sprays

Intranasal sprays have emerged as an innovative method for supplement delivery. This method is often used for certain hormones and medications.

However, some vitamins can also be delivered by this method, like Vitamine D3 and Vitamin B12. It is also one of the delivery methods of NAD+, the most important molecule for life to exist.

With direct access to the rich network of blood vessels in the nasal passages, intranasal sprays ensure rapid absorption and bypass first-pass metabolism.

Sublingual supplements

Sublingual supplements are designed to be placed under the tongue, where they dissolve and are absorbed through the sublingual mucosa into the bloodstream. This method allows for direct absorption without passing through the digestive system. 

Pros 

  • Sublingual delivery allows for the rapid absorption of supplements into the bloodstream. The sublingual mucosa has a rich network of blood vessels, enabling quick entry of active ingredients into circulation.
  • Sublingual supplements are easy to take and do not require water or swallowing, making them convenient for individuals who have difficulty swallowing pills or dislike the taste of traditional oral supplements.
  • Sublingual supplements often come in precise dosage forms, allowing for accurate dosing and ease of adjusting the dosage based on individual needs.
  • Individuals with sensitive stomachs or gastrointestinal issues may find sublingual supplements more tolerable than oral formulations, as they do not cause stomach upset or irritation.

Cons 

  • Not all supplements are available in sublingual form. The variety of sublingual supplements may be more limited compared to traditional oral supplements, which can limit the options for certain nutrients or combinations.
  • The taste and texture of sublingual supplements can be unpleasant for some individuals, affecting compliance and adherence to the supplementation regimen.
  • While sublingual delivery offers rapid absorption, it may not be suitable for all supplements or large doses due to limited absorption capacity through the sublingual mucosa.
  • Substances like food, beverages, or oral care products used immediately before or after taking sublingual supplements may interfere with their absorption.
  • The effectiveness of sublingual supplements may vary among individuals due to differences in sublingual mucosa, saliva composition, or other factors affecting absorption. 
Vitamin B12 Sublingual

Nature Made Vitamin B12 1000 mcg, Easy to Take Sublingual B12 for Energy Metabolism Support, 50 Sugar Free Fast Dissolve Tablets, 50 Day Supply

Vitamin D3 MicroLingual Tablets

Superior Source Vitamin D3 5000 IU, Quick Dissolve MicroLingual Tablets, 100 Count, Helps Promote Strong Bones and Teeth, Immune Support, Helps Maintain Healthy Muscle Function, Non-GMO

B12/B6 /Folic Acid Sublingual Tablets

Superior Source B12/B6 /Folic Acid Multivitamin Tablet, 1000 mcg/2 mg/800 mcg, 60 Count

Vitamin K2 Sublingual Tablets

Superior Source Vitamin K2 MK-7 (Menaquinone-7), 100 mcg, Quick Dissolve Sublingual Tablets, 60 Count, Healthy Bones and Arteries, Immune & Cardiovascular Support, Assists Protein Synthesis, Non-GMO

Zinc

Superior Source Zinc Lozenjets, Zinc (5 mg), Vitamin C (15 mg), Quick Dissolve MicroLingual Tablets, 60 Ct, Supports Immune, Skin and Antioxidant Health. Non-GMO

Collagen

Concentrated Liquid Collagen Peptides Supplement – Hair, Skin, Nail, Joints Support – Sublingual Drops by WINDSOR BOTANICALS – 10,000mcg Collagen, 5,000mcg Biotin – Lemon Flavor – 2-Month

 

Intravenous & Intramuscular

Intravenous (IV) therapy is a well-known method that involves the delivery of supplements directly into the bloodstream through a vein. Thus, it bypasses the digestive system and allows for immediate absorption without potential issues related to digestion, such as variability in absorption rates or breakdown of supplements by stomach acid.

When supplements are injected into the vein (Intravenous) or muscle (Intramuscular), the effects are instantaneous because they immediately enters the bloodstream. Shots are effective but can be tricky if you are unable to source a doctor willing to administer the shot. In that case, suppositories can be a helpful and powerful alternative (see below).

However, it is an invasive procedure and requires trained healthcare professionals to perform it, which limits accessibility, and increases the cost and complexity compared to other delivery methods. Increased risk of infection and potential side effects are other concerns for this delivery method.

Pros

IV delivery allows for direct and immediate absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. This can result in faster and more efficient delivery of nutrients to cells and tissues.

By avoiding the digestive process, IV delivery can achieve higher bioavailability of nutrients. It ensures that a greater proportion of the administered supplements reaches the target tissues without being degraded or metabolized.

IV delivery allows for the formulation of customized nutrient combinations tailored to an individual’s specific needs. This personalized approach can be beneficial for individuals with nutrient deficiencies or specific health conditions.

IV supplementation is commonly used in clinical settings for various therapeutic purposes, such as correcting nutritional deficiencies, supporting immune function, or aiding in recovery after surgery or illness.

Cons

IV delivery requires the insertion of a needle into a vein, which may cause discomfort, bruising, or infection at the injection site. It also necessitates the presence of a trained healthcare professional to perform the procedure.

Like any medical procedure, IV delivery carries some risks. These include allergic reactions, vein irritation or inflammation, vein damage, or, in rare cases, infection or air embolism if proper hygiene and techniques are not followed.

IV supplementation typically requires a healthcare facility or clinic, making it less accessible and less convenient compared to other forms of supplementation, such as oral supplements or dietary changes.

IV delivery of supplements is generally more expensive than other forms of supplementation due to the need for medical supervision, specialized equipment, and the administration process itself. This cost factor can make it less feasible for long-term or routine use.

 

Recent developments in supplement absorption have focused on improving the delivery methods of supplements to increase their bioavailability and effectiveness. Here we are listing the available and upcoming methods that are worth our attention.

Liposomal Supplements

Liposomal supplements are a breakthrough nutrient delivery system providing active molecules directly where they are needed most and can be optimally used. Some nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and glutathione, among others, are excellent candidates for liposomal delivery, which works by bypassing bodily systems such as stomach acid breakdown that decreases effectiveness. Liposomes have long been used as one of the most effective delivery methods, but few people know about them. Liposomal capsules are considered the most effective delivery method of NAD+. 

           Source: Temidayo et al.,  Molecules 2018, 23(4).

Liposomes are the most commonly investigated nanostructures used in advanced drug delivery, which were first discovered by Alee Bangham in 1963. Liposomes are artificially spherical vesicles prepared from naturally-derived phospholipids

They are well established for a range of pharmaceutical and biomedical applications with the unique capabilities.

Easily confused with a regular liquid, this is the most readily-available delivery method for your body. It is an excellent way for your body to rapidly ingest nutrients.

Pros

  • Liposomes can protect the encapsulated nutrients from degradation in the digestive system, allowing them to reach the bloodstream more effectively. This can enhance the bioavailability and utilization of the supplements by the body.
  • Liposomes can be engineered to specifically target certain tissues or cells in the body. This targeted delivery may improve the efficacy of supplements by ensuring they reach the desired sites of action.
  • Some supplements can cause gastrointestinal discomfort or irritation when taken orally. Liposomal delivery bypasses the digestive system to some extent, potentially reducing the likelihood of such side effects.
  • Liposomes can encapsulate a wide range of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even certain medications. This versatility allows for the delivery of various substances using the same technology.

Cons

  • Liposomal delivery methods can be more expensive than traditional oral supplements. The manufacturing process and the technology involved in producing stable liposomes contribute to the higher cost.
  • Although liposomal delivery shows promise, the scientific research supporting its effectiveness for various nutrients and health conditions is still limited. More studies are needed to understand its benefits and limitations fully.
  • Liposomes can be sensitive to environmental factors such as temperature, light, and pH. Ensuring the stability of liposomal formulations throughout storage and transport can be challenging, and improper handling may compromise their efficacy.
  • The quality of liposomal supplements can vary depending on the manufacturer. Not all liposomal products may be formulated or manufactured to the same standards, impacting their effectiveness.

 

Suppositories

Suppositories are largely overlooked due to discomfort, yet little is reported concerning effectiveness. Suppositories are round or cone-shaped objects that you insert into your bottom. Too much information? I understand! But it is important to know – suppositories are pain-free and also allow your body to absorb supplements in a very efficient way. Once the suppository is inserted into the rectum, it begins to melt and release the supplements that go directly to the bloodstream.

By bypassing the gastrointestinal tract, suppositories can avoid issues related to digestive enzyme degradation and variable absorption rates associated with oral delivery. They provide a more direct and efficient route for supplement absorption, particularly in cases where oral intake is challenging or may result in reduced bioavailability.

Suppositories are formulated to deliver the highest amount of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. They are absorbed quickly and provide a more effective delivery method than oral supplements. They are a suitable delivery method for supplements that require a higher concentration of the drug or for those who cannot tolerate medications taken orally.

Pros

  • Suppositories deliver supplements directly to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. This direct absorption can lead to rapid and efficient uptake of the active ingredients, as they do not undergo degradation by stomach acid or enzymatic breakdown.
  • By avoiding the first-pass metabolism in the liver, suppositories can improve the bioavailability of certain supplements. This means that a higher percentage of the supplement reaches the systemic circulation, potentially increasing its effectiveness.
  • Suppositories are beneficial for individuals with digestive issues, such as gastrointestinal disorders, malabsorption conditions, or difficulty swallowing pills. They offer an alternative means of delivering essential nutrients to those who may have challenges with oral supplementation.
  • Suppositories can allow for precise dosing adjustments, enabling healthcare professionals to customize the dosage of supplements based on individual needs and medical conditions.

Cons

  • The options for suppository-formulated supplements are more limited, making it challenging to find certain supplements in this delivery format. Not all supplements are suitable for suppository delivery due to their chemical properties or stability.
  • Suppositories require insertion into the rectum or vagina, which some individuals may find uncomfortable or invasive. This can be a barrier to their regular use, affecting compliance and adherence to the supplementation regimen.
  • The administration of suppositories may be less convenient than oral supplements, especially for individuals who are always on the go or have limited privacy to perform the procedure.
  • Although suppositories offer direct absorption, the efficiency can still vary depending on individual factors, such as the health of the rectal or vaginal mucosa.

Best suppository supplements for longevity

Currently, no information is available in the search results about which suppository supplements are rated the best for longevity. However, some companies like Qi, Zetpil, and Biom Pharma manufacture suppositories with supplements essential for longevity.

The concept of “longevity” generally refers to promoting overall health, well-being, and extending one’s lifespan. While certain supplements, both in oral and other delivery forms, have been studied for their potential effects on aging and longevity, specific suppository-formulated supplements for this purpose might be considered.

It’s important to note that the field of supplements and longevity research is continuously evolving, and new formulations and studies may have emerged since my last update. Additionally, individual responses to supplements can vary, and claims of “longevity” may not always have robust scientific evidence supporting them. Here are some examples of supplement suppositories potentially beneficial for longevity.

It is worth to note that benefit claims are made by the manufacturers and may not be supported by scientific evidence or regulatory agencies. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Zetpil Multivitamin and Mineral Suppository
CoQ10

 

Innovative New Delivery Systems

 

Intestinal microbiota modulation

The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in the metabolism and absorption of nutrients. Modulating the gut microbiota composition through probiotics, prebiotics, or synbiotics (a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) may enhance the absorption and bioavailability of certain supplements by optimizing gut health and microbial activity.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health and digestion. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. And synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics.

When probiotics ferment prebiotics in the colon, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs play a crucial role in maintaining gut health and promoting the absorption of certain nutrients, such as minerals and some vitamins.

Some probiotics can produce enzymes that aid in the breakdown of complex nutrients, potentially improving the availability of certain nutrients for absorption. 

Ritual Synbiotic+, for example, contains a prebiotic and probiotic, but as a bonus, it also includes a postbiotic to optimize your gut health. Using a timed-release capsule (see above) makes it more likely that the probiotic survives the stomach acid. It is a top-rated probiotic supplement in 2023.

Seed Daily SynbioticPrimal Gut Restore, and a few others also got on the list of best synbiotics.

Synbiotic

Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics- a review

Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health

 

It’s important to note that while synbiotics may support gut health and potentially enhance nutrient absorption, their impact on supplement absorption and bioavailability may vary depending on individual factors, including the type of supplement, the individual’s gut microbiome composition, and overall health status.

As with any supplement or dietary intervention, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before incorporating synbiotics or any other supplement into your routine. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific health needs and help you make informed decisions to optimize supplement absorption and overall well-being.

Micronization and microencapsulation

By reducing the particle size of supplements, the surface area available for absorption increases. Micronization techniques, such as milling and spray drying, are being explored to improve the dissolution and absorption of poorly soluble supplements.

Encapsulation refers to the process of enclosing supplements within protective shells or matrices. Microencapsulation techniques involve creating tiny particles that protect the supplement from degradation and control its release. These methods can improve stability, enhance absorption, and allow for targeted delivery of supplements.

Companies like INCAPTEK and Glanbia are developing and providing microencapsulation for the manufacturers of dietary supplements.

Nanomachinery and nanotechnology

In recent years, the development of delivery systems has been buoyed by breakthroughs in nanomachinery and nanotechnology, which have opened up new possibilities for optimizing therapeutic capabilities and benefits. 

Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of matter on the nanoscale (typically less than 100 nanometers) to create novel structures and materials. Nanotechnology-based delivery systems, such as nanoparticles or nanocarriers, promise to improve supplement absorption by providing controlled release, protection from degradation, and targeted delivery to specific tissues or cells.

Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) made from food-grade lipids have shown promise in enhancing the absorption of certain supplements.

Nanoemulsion technology involves creating tiny droplets of supplements, typically using lipid-based carriers, to enhance their absorption and bioavailability. This technology allows for increased solubility and stability of the supplement, facilitating better absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

Other approaches

The development of new delivery methods for supplements is an active area of research. Many promising approaches, like pH-sensitive delivery systems, ligand-mediated targeting, self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS), and others, are being explored. These advances have the potential to improve the efficacy and convenience of supplements, as well as their absorption and bioavailability.

Nanotechnology: A novel tool to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients

Rapamycin and aging: When, for how long, and how much?

What is next?

In our upcoming posts, we will keep you updated on the research and development in relation to new and advanced delivery methods of supplements.

Be sure to check back!

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This website is dedicated to all aspects of longevity with educational and inspirational purposes only. Understanding of the biological basis of aging is important since it gives us ideas on how to slow down and, possibly, even reverse the changes in our bodies leading to aging and illnesses.

We accumulate so-called positive traits of old age during our whole life, such as knowledge, experience, wisdom, empathy, and freedom. Too late! We are approaching our time to die. However, it doesn’t need to be this way.

If you have an opportunity to live active life longer without pain, disease, or cognitive decline, would you? Imagine a possibility to enjoy and watch your family growing beyond grandchildren, travel the world, realize your skills and experience in something you always wanted to do down to perfection. Sounds not bad, does it?

Well, according to science, it is quite possible!

Where do you stand on your longevity?

Definitely, when it comes to our body and mind, everyone has a right to a personal choice on how to maintain health, treat the problems, or take steps for further improvement. We defined three different levels for longevity approaches depending on your condition (perfectly healthy or have pre-existing conditions), your goal (maintain or improve your health), and the complexity of life extension methods (easy, moderate, or advanced).

Level 1 – Simple

You can choose to maintain or improve your health by easy and cheap methods such as healthy eating, herb therapy, or general supplement arrangements (vitamins, minerals, etc.). You can find information on these methods in our “What Can You Do” Category or go to the “Anti-aging methods and techniques” page.

Level 2 – Moderate

If you wish to take a step further, you may consider IV therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or extreme fasting. You can find information on these methods in our “What Can You Do” Category or go to the “Anti-aging methods and techniques” page. The cutting-edge achievements can be found on the “News & information” page.

Level 3 – Advanced

At this level, you must be totally dedicated to your longevity and target the most advanced treatments toward lifespan extension (regenerative medicine such as stem cell treatment, cartilage regeneration, platelet-rich plasma therapy, prolotherapy, etc.). Most of these methods are being used now and show even greater promise for the future. “News & information” page.

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