Liposomal Delivery Makes Supplements More Bioavailable

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Liposomal Delivery Makes Supplements More Bioavailable
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Having a well-balanced diet is one of the key points in staying healthy. Coupled with regular exercise and good lifestyle choices, you can improve your quality of life and even extend it. However, there are nutrients that we still need to take supplements for, depending on the demands of our daily activities. If you work nights or have to deal with a compromised immune system, you may need to take additional Vitamin C supplements. However, studies have shown that Vitamin C is not highly bioavailable, meaning that it isn’t easily absorbed by the body. This is where liposomal technology steps in.

The Bioavailability Of Nutrients

In order to understand the concept of bioavailability, let’s take a look at Vitamin C. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements under the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid (a water-soluble vitamin) plays an important role in boosting the body’s immunity and aiding in protein metabolism. However, they report that taking more Vitamin C actually hinders the body’s ability to absorb it. Roughly 70 to 90 percent of this vitamin is absorbed when taken at amounts of 30 to 180 mg per day (that’s low, compared to the typical stock dose of vitamin C in the drugstores, which is 500 mg). At amounts of more than 1 gram per day, absorption falls to less than 50 percent. [1]

That means that the bioavailability of Vitamin C is quite low. Bioavailability is therefore how much of a substance the body can absorb and process effectively. And Vitamin C is not alone; there are plenty of other nutrients that have low bioavailability, like iron which is only 14 to 18 percent bioavailable (even lower if you are on a vegetarian diet, where bioavailability of iron is 5 to 12%). [2]

The Answer: Liposomal Supplementation

The reason why many nutrients have low bioavailability is because of their inability to pass through the body’s multi-layered cell membranes. Liposomes, on the other hand are spherical vessels made of phospholipids, a component of the cell membrane, that make it easier for them to travel in an out of the cell. Using this principle, placing much-needed nutrients like vitamin C and iron in liposomes can greatly improve their bioavailability leading to better absorption by the body. [3]

Akbarzadeh, et. al. in 2013 published a study on liposomal delivery of pharmaceutical agents, concluding that liposomes provided excellent drug delivery to specific locations in the body. This led to better-targeted drug therapy and a significant reduction in drug toxicities and side effects. [3]

Again, this principle is used in several recent publications that focus on nutrient supplementation. According to Xu, et. al. in 2014, liposomal delivery of iron was better than regular oral supplementation of iron. The study used a rat model of exercise and found that the experimental group that was treated with liposomal iron had better red blood cell, serum iron, and liver iron levels. The researchers concluded that iron liposomes effectively managed iron deficiency in the test subjects with very minimal side effects. [4]

An older study in 2010 had very interesting results regarding liposomal supplementation. Most of the studies that focus on liposomes are limited to oral intake but Lee and Tsai focused on a different route. They found that coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant, was better absorbed topically when in a liposomal formulation. Coenzyme Q10 is also popularly used in cosmetics to help with skin health but bioavailability through topical applicant has always been low. The study reports that liposomal coenzyme Q10 is very promising in improving the absorption of this substance through the skin. [5]

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Also in 2010, Mach, et. al. published a study in an anti-cancer journal that showed how liposomal formulations of curcumin, a spice that has significant anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties, were better absorbed by the body and had very low potential for drug interaction with chemotherapeutic medication. This suggests that liposomal formulations can also improve the bioavailability of natural extracts. [6]

If you are asking how much do liposomes improve bioavailability, the answer is it varies. Different studies have different results; different nutrients have different results. A study on capsaicin extract found that liposomal formulation improved bioavailability three-fold while a two-fold increase in bioavailability was seen in a study on ferric citrate. [7][8]

With numerous studies being done on the liposomal preparation of supplements, it cannot be denied how it is able to improve the bioavailability of numerous substances. From pharmaceutical products to natural supplements, liposomes are able to help the body absorb them better. The next time you want to include supplements in your diet, maybe take a look at liposomal formulations and see if they work for you.


[1] Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C.

[2] Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron.

[3] Akbarzadeh, A., et. al. (2013). Liposome: classification, preparation, and applications.

[4] Xu, Z., et. al. (2014). Encapsulation of iron in liposomes significantly improved the efficiency of iron supplementation in strenuously exercised rats.

[5] Lee, W. & Tsai, T. (2010). Preparation and characterization of liposomal coenzyme Q10 for in vivo topical application.

[6] Mach, C., et. al. (2010). Evaluation of liposomal curcumin cytochrome p450 metabolism.

[7] Zhu, Y., et. al. (2015). Improved oral bioavailability of capsaicin via liposomal nanoformulation: preparation, in vitro drug release and pharmacokinetics in rats.

[8] Yuan, L., et. al. (2016). Enhanced oral bioavailability and tissue distribution of ferric citrate through liposomal encapsulation.

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