What Forms of Vitamins Are Best Absorbed
We are all exposed to a barrage of new products every day, all claiming to be the best product in the market or the newest trend or healthiest choice. What is one to do?Vitamins are necessary for your body to function. The importance of vitamins for healthy living was known as early as the 18th century, an example was sailors were routinely given citrus fruits on long voyages to avoid scurvy. Doctors know that vitamins are important; however, the route of their absorption is also as important if not more important than the vitamins themselves.
How best to take your vitamin is not new to the medical community but may be new to the public.The cost and benefits of each route of administration and the ease of access must also be considered when one is given a choice of vitamin therapies. Intravenous dosing or intramuscular dosing will not be reviewed here as it is not an oral route and would be beyond the scope of this blog.
1. Oral Vitamins and Supplements
The average adult throat is less than one inch in diameter. However, some medications can be longer than one half to one inch, which makes them very difficult to swallow, explains Dr Simon Gaisford, head of the department of pharmaceutics at University College London. Hence why do companies continue to make vitamins that are so large and difficult to swallow. The above chart personifies the additives and preservatives that are added to each vitamin to make the production cheaper, simpler, and to let the vitamin survive the hostile acidic environment of the stomach. So why not bypass the stomach altogether?
There are actually companies that provide the consumers with vitamin tablets that do away with all the additives, preservatives that are used in the industry to make the vitamins prettier, more tasty, resistant to stomach acids, nicer smelling, and at the same time so large and difficult to swallow. These companies concentrate on what is truly important for your health as you can see below in the under the tongue absorption section.
However, let's expose some common myths about the industry before we delve into the true advantage of under the tongue absorption.
2. Time-Released Oral Vitamins
There is a new craze out there for time release vitamins. But are they good for you, or can they be harmful?
Time-release vitamins get their origins from the pharmaceutical industry. The reason behind slow or time release medication is simple: a) reduce the rate of side effects associated with a rapid surge of the medication in your blood or b) reduce the need for multiple dosing of the same drug in a 24-hour interval.
To better understand how medications are better as a time released tablet, is to better understand their side effects.
Medications and Their Side Effects.
Medications are needed to improve a condition that the body is suffering from; however, every medication has its own group of side effects. Imagine the medication Alfuzosin which is used to improve prostate health and urination in men. This medication if absorbed in a non-time release fashion will cause a rapid drop in the blood pressure and may cause syncope. Hence the time release formulation, better known as Uroxatrol, causes a slow release of the medication in your body and reduces the risk of low blood pressure while providing prostate symptom relief over 24 hours. The alternative would be to take the medication in multiple smaller doses, which makes compliance an issue.
Time release and reduce dosing needs.
From the argument above, imagine also that you have pain, and you require pain control. A patient can now take a pain relief agent multiple times a day or take a slow-release formulation of the same medication only twice or once a day. The time release medication can provide continued therapy over a long period of time resulting in less pain and better medical result.
Do you really need a time release vitamin?
These days it appears that the vitamin industry has tried to copy their pharmaceutical brothers without truly understanding the reason behind time release medications. How does a slow or time release vitamin benefit your body? Do you really need a slow release Biotin tablet? Unlike time release medication there appears to be no benefit to time release vitamins and some studies suggest they may absorb poorly or be outright bad for you. Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University showed in one study that time release vitamin C was less bioavailable and 50% less absorbed than a normal vitamin C pill.
Another review published on time release niacin showed possible liver toxicity from prolonged exposure. Finally, according to Harvard University School of Public Health, time release vitamins show no added benefit and may be more expensive than normal vitamins.
3. Are supplement powders good for you?
There is now a new trend for consumers to use vitamin powders. These powders are to be mixed with water or other liquids to be consumed orally. The concept is that the powders are without additives and preservatives and easier to swallow as a liquid drink. We want to shed some light about vitamin powders since there are many issues with powders that the consumers need to be aware of!
Vitamin powders are measured using a simple kitchen spoon. The issue is that vitamins are dosed in micrograms and the smallest deviation in the spoon scoop can make huge deviations in the actual dose taken. There can be issues of underdosing or toxicity which is not seen in tablets or capsules or packets.
Powders are made up of many particles of different sizes which are not uniform, large particles and small particles. The smaller particles tend to collect towards the bottom of a powdered mixture and larger particles to the top making it very hard or impossible to get a consistent recommended dosage of the same vitamins and minerals every time.
Mixing and Storage
If a powdered supplement needs to be mixed with a drink, then must stir thoroughly, and consume the full contents of the drink. Some ingredients are insoluble, like calcium, iron, boron, selenium, vanadium, manganese, magnesium, etc. Some material may remain at the bottom of the cup, while some ingredients stick to the side.
Storing powdered supplements is difficult due to the moisture exposure and clumping problems, issues which may make their shelf life shorter.
Taking too many vitamins and minerals all together can block each other’s absorption and many vitamins are poorly absorbed by the intestinal tract. Hence the route of absorption is the most important point the consumer can learn from how a vitamin should be ingested, see the discussion below.
4. Why are sublingual tablets absorbed quickly?
Sublingual, meaning literally 'under the tongue' refers to a method of administering substances via the mouth in such a way that the substances are rapidly absorbed via the blood vessels under the tongue rather than via the digestive tract see picture to the left. The route of absorption via the highly vascularized buccal mucosa allows the substances a more direct access to the blood circulation, thus providing direct systemic administration.
Medically, sublingual drug administration is applied in the field of cardiovascular drugs, steroids, some barbiturates, and enzymes. It has been a developing field in the administration of many vitamins and minerals which are found to be readily and thoroughly absorbed by this method. Sublingually absorbed nutrition, which avoids exposure to the gastric system and liver, means direct nutritional benefits, particularly important for sufferers of gastro-intestinal difficulties such as ulcers, hyperactive gut, coeliac disease, those with compromised digestion, the elderly, and anyone that is unable to swallow tablets or pills – the nutritional benefit is independent of gastro-intestinal influences.
There is considerable evidence that most sublingual substances are absorbed by simple molecular diffusion; the sublingual area acting rather like litmus paper, readily soaking up the substances. Buccal mucosa presents an ideal site for absorption.
One of the best known drugs used regularly with great success is Glyceryl Trinitrate better known as nitroglycerin, is a potent coronary vasodilator which is used for the rapid symptomatic relief of angina. It has been found impressively effective when administered sublingually; pharmacologically active after only 1 two 2 minutes also nitrate appears in plasma and concentrations can be maintained for 24 hours.
The Molecular Mechanism of Sublingual Absorption
For a nutrient to be effectively absorbed sublingually, it needs to be able to travel across the buccal mucous membranes; by a process of diffusion known as molecular osmosis which applies to all forms of absorption by the body; governing both intestinal and sublingual absorption. The distribution of water across cell walls depends on the osmotic difference in the blood between the intracellular and extracellular fluid. The distribution of water across blood vessel walls is determined by the in-vivo osmotic pressure of plasma and the total outward hydrostatic pressure. Unlike the cell membrane, the capillary wall is freely and rapidly permeable to small molecules. The diffusion of water across a membrane that is only permeable to water depends on the molecular weight of the particle. Small particles that readily dissolve in water, rarely present a problem in permeation and diffusion, and so can move freely between the tissues of the body. Active transportation into cells leads to rapid metabolism of the substances. The main mechanism for the absorption of the drug or vitamin in to the oral mucosa is via molecular osmosis as stated into the lipoidal membrane and this also could explain the absorption of non-water soluble vitamins since the lipoidal membrane which is the cellular barrier is made of lipid fats and hence drug absorption in many studies has been shown to be 3 to 10 times faster than the regular oral route and is only surpassed by the intravenous method of injection.
The cells of the oral epithelium and epidermis are also capable of absorbing by endocytosis, the uptake of particles by a cell as if by hollowly wrapping itself around it. These engulfed particles are usually too large to diffuse through its wall.
The advantages of sublingually administering nutrients seem to be manifold, offering improved bioavailability and more rapid metabolism of the nutrients which are absorbed more fully. It allows individual control over the dosage for optimum benefit, within safe guidelines, and can allow absorption in a palatable and easily administered form, regardless of gastro-intestinal difficulties. It is especially useful for those who have trouble in swallowing tablets. Sublingual nutrients are available in readily dissolved tablets, which are placed under the tongue, until dissolved. For these formulations, the small volume of saliva is usually sufficient to result in tablet disintegration in the oral cavity.
5. The Sublingual Advantage
Zinc and Copper Absorption!
Zinc and Copper are both major components of antioxidant enzymes important in boosting your immune system. During the current pandemic when many are taking large doses of zinc, copper deficiency may become a major issue since in the gut absorption of zinc blocks the absorption of copper. Under the tongue Zinc tablets are simply absorbed under your tongue - sublingually - bypassing the need to be swallowed, or to survive the harsh environment of the gut or to cause issues with copper absorption.
Some in the medical community believe that zinc dosing throughout the day is more effective in providing a constant flow of the supplement to your blood stream than once a day dosing. There are even some who recommend taking lower doses up to every 3 hours to improve boosting the immune response.
Iron Supplements and Intestinal Issues.
Intravenous iron is the best way to absorb iron supplements into our blood directly avoiding the common side effects of constipation, nausea, and vomiting. However, this method is tedious, inefficient, inconvenient, and not cost effective. Oral iron supplements are notorious for causing nausea, vomiting and constipation. Also, they must be dosed multiple times a day for long term due to their poor absorption. In a recent study in New England Journal of Medicine, study participants were given standard swallowed high dose iron tablets two to three times a day, but the results of their blood studies showed only absorptions of 22.6 to 23.6mg per day. One can avoid the poor iron absorption and its associated intestinal side effects. The medical community believes that under the tongue absorption is a more efficient method of absorption for any product hence Iron absorption by under the tongue tablets should not only provide less gastric side effects but should also provide a higher absorption and less need for multiple daily dosing.*
National Institute of Health (NIH) states that Vitamin D3 is considered “a fat-soluble prohormone” which is involved in many aspects of our wellbeing and regulatory functions just like a hormone. Everyone is aware that calcium absorption and bone health are major part of vitamin D3 benefits. However, most people may not know that Vitamin D3 is also involved in control of inflammation, sugar control, proper cell death, proper cell growth, and many other cellular and system regulation. A good size of population in the western hemisphere do not obtain their vitamin D3 from sun exposure or foods sources and need to be supplemented to obtain optimal levels. Due to its inability to dissolve in water D3 is at times difficult to absorb without large fatty meal or a glass of whole milk. Hence many find that they are D3 deficient even though they have been taking their supplements regularly. If you take vitamin D3 tablets under the tongue for better absorption, you do not need to worry about any of the above since it absorbs under your tongue and directly into your bloodstream. No need to plan a fatty meal or worry about an upset stomach because under the tongue D3 absorbs directly into the bloodstream from the tongue blood plexus and avoids the passage through the gastrointestinal tract.*
There is also debate about when is the best time of day to take your vitamin D3 – there is some research that suggests vitamin D3 may negatively impact your sleep. Until further research is available, we recommend you consume your Vitamin D3 supplements first thing in the morning. Make it part of your morning ritual. It is easier than having to remember to take them later in your busy day.
Vitamin B12 and Intrinsic Factor!
The problem with any oral vitamin B12 is that it must be swallowed. Now, whether you chew, drink or swallow your B12 the biggest issue is that after surviving the harsh environment of acidic stomach B12 requires to be bound to a protein called Intrinsic Factor (IF) to be absorbed into our body. As we age our body makes less and less IF and hence, we absorb less B12. Many complain of chronic fatigue or tiredness as they reach their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and worsens with advancing age. What is your best option if you do not want to get a B12 shot in the butt? An excellent source of under the tongue B12 currently available in the market allows bypass of the harsh environment of the gut or the need for attachment to IF. Under the tongue B12 is absorbed directly into the blood stream by osmosis as described above without the need of Intrinsic Factor (IF).
The problem with any oral vitamin is that it must be swallowed. Now whether you chew, drink, or swallow your vitamin the biggest issue is that the vitamin must survive the stomach acids and then the pancreatic juices introduced in the small intestine, get absorbed by the intestine, survive the liver first bypass metabolism that all food must go through when swallowed, before a fraction of that vitamin can survive and enter your blood stream. The industry has created more and more additives not only to cheaply produce the vitamins but to increase the survivability of the vitamin in the harsh environment of your gastro-intestinal tract before absorption.The best way to get your vitamins is of course via a healthy diet and proper nourishment. But if you fall into the group of people that are deficient and it is out of your control, which is a major portion of the population then you must resort to taking vitamins.
Here are the four popular reasons why people make the switch to an under the tongue vitamin:
There are under the tongue vitamin manufacturers that, can ensure tablets are of the highest quality and free of all additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors/dyes, and GMOs found in most other vitamins. The reason other companies put these “other Ingredients” in their vitamins is mostly to protect the vitamin against your stomach acids. In other words, these fillers and coatings are added to protect the vitamin, not you. Tablets absorb under the tongue (sublingually), allow manufacturers remove everything you don’t need and provide you with pure, perfect vitamins.
Quick-dissolving tablets absorb easily under the tongue and directly into your bloodstream. Within seconds of placing the tablet under your tongue, it will dissolve and start to absorb and disperse through your body and get to work! Making it the perfect solution for people who hate swallowing pills.
As you now know, certain brands of vitamins can be taken under the tongue. When you place it there, you are placing it on the buccal mucosa. The tissue that is there makes it possible to quickly absorb it into the bloodstream, avoiding the harsh environment of your stomach and digestive system entirely! So, if you are someone who hates taking vitamins because your stomach gets upset or have a hard time swallowing a big pill - you’re in luck! These vitamins will be a life-changing solution to avoid the stomach aches you get from taking vitamins.
If you breakdown how many vitamins you must take to get the same amount of absorption, the affordability is a no brainer. With under the tongue absorption, you take a single tablet (usually around $0.17/tablet), and you are good to go. On the other hand, swallowed vitamins promote a large pill at high dose since only a small portion survives the gastric acids. Hence, doctors sometimes recommend more than one of these other horse pills per day.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseaseThis information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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