The Liquid Vitamin Advantage
Vitamin supplements have traditionally been taken either as tablets or capsules. Lately, however, there has been a massive upsurge in the popularity of liquid vitamin supplements. This has been accompanied by a lot of marketing hype insisting that the liquid alternative is far superior to the old-fashioned solid delivery method. Predictably, the pro-pill lobby has hit back with assertions that liquid supplements are generally overpriced, offer no significant advantages, and may in fact be a poorer delivery method for daily vitamins. Let’s evaluate this problem by taking a closer look at some of the claims from both sides.
An often-quoted statistic in favour of liquid vitamins comes from the highly respected Physicians Desk Reference, a standard prescription drug reference that can be found in virtually every doctor’s office in the United States. The edition published in 2000 claimed that “…as low as 10-20% of the nutrients taken in pill form actually make it to the cellular level. That means 80-90% has to be eliminated by the body, which can be very taxing on your system. It also means that for every 0 you spend on nutritional pills, about goes down the toilet. Liquid, on the other hand, has an absorption rate up to 98%.” This lowered bioavailability of pills is due to the fact that they have to be processed by the gastrointestinal system to become digestible, whereas liquids come ready-prepared for almost instant and complete absorption.
It must be borne in mind, however, that not all pills are created equal. They differ widely in quality and type. Cheap generic tablets are often be made from low quality ingredients that in some cases are relatively useless to the body and in other cases render the tablet indigestible, causing it to pass through the body with no absorption at all. On the other hand, reputable manufacturers often use pharmaceutical-grade enteric-coated pills which are designed to pass through the harsh stomach environment before being readily absorbed into the bloodstream via the walls of the upper intestine. Indeed, it can be argued that this is the best delivery method for some delicate compounds which would otherwise be destroyed by stomach acids.
Another widely praised aspect of liquid supplements is that they are prepared from fresh natural ingredients, as opposed to the powdered and processed ingredients often used in pills. This is appealing to many people as, generally speaking, fresh is best when it comes to diet. And, being made from whole foods like aloe vera or mangosteen, these products contain phytonutrients such as enzymes and amino acids, which combine with the vitamins to provide a healthier overall package. But, again, good manufacturers of pills strive to ensure that their ingredients are kept as fresh as possible, and they often combine several ingredients which work together synergistically. The binders and fillers used in high quality pills will also give them an extended shelf life, which is a distinct advantage over liquid alternatives.
The fact that liquid supplements don’t need extra “carrier” material, such as binders, fillers, and capsules, means that the healthy ingredients can be more highly concentrated in liquid vitamins. This is usually offset by the higher relative price of liquids, especially the over-hyped MLM (multi level marketing) supplements that are currently gaining high exposure. Some older people have a great deal of trouble swallowing and digesting pills. It can also be hard to get children to take supplements in this form, due to both taste problems and difficulty in swallowing. For both of these groups, a pleasant tasting liquid alternative may be the only option.
Overall, there are definite advantages to be gained from taking liquid vitamin supplements. However, buyers should exercise caution when evaluating various products: try not to be misled by advertising hype, buy from reputable companies, and remember that there is a place for both liquids and pills in your nutritional supplement regime.
About the Author: Nate Scott is a writer and contributor for Vitabase. He is a professional in the areas of health and nutrition. You can reach him at http://www.vitabase.com