Liposomes were first discovered in the 1960s by British biophysicist Alec Douglas Bangham, FRS. Even though their effectiveness remained and remains undisputed, it was the high cost of producing liposomes that prevented them being used more widely as active substance carriers.
So … what are liposomal vitamins? And why are they now considered one of the best ways to deliver vitamins to the body?
Liposomal vitamins are manufactured using Liposomal Encapsulation Technology (LET), microscopic healthy fat particles called phospholipids. Liposomes are microscopic bubble-type particles which form a membrane made up of special molecules called phospholipids. Phospholipids are the basic building block of every cell membrane in the human body. Consequently, liposomes, due to the fact they are made up of phospholipids, are safe for the transport of vitamins and food supplements to the human body. Phospholipids are very similar to the membrane that surrounds each and every cell within our body and either allows or hinders the absorption of a nutrient or a compound.
Many years ago, researchers discovered that these liposomes could be filled with therapeutic agents and nutrients. The membrane of the liposome would hold in the nutrient and would not release it until it reached the bloodstream. In other words, their distinctive property of maintaining a protective barrier around the active ingredients they carry is that which makes the active substances resistant to digestive enzymes, gastric juices, bile salts, intestinal bacteria, even to free radicals produced by the human body.
AND there is an added bonus: liposomal technology does not use the additives such as gelatines, coatings, binders, fillers, sugars, colours and flavours usually used in vitamin tablets and supplements.
Bearing in mind how important the phospholipids are, Yoga Nutrition uses vegetable phospholipids from sunflowers that contain unsaturated fatty acid chains. It is important to consider what the phospholipid is made of when choosing a liposomal vitamin. We all know about the different kinds of fatty acids and choosing an unsaturated one is important as the fatty acids of phospholipids can be integrated into the cell membranes of our body.
To sum up, here are three reasons why you should take your vitamin supplement as a liposomal.
- They protect the active ingredients: by preventing the vitamins being aggressively targeted by stomach acids. Encapsulation in liposomes shields the vitamins in the digestive system.
- They mask some active ingredients: phospholipids mask the active ingredients so that larger amounts can be absorbed and escape the selective power of the small intestine. Osmotic side effects of some high doses of vitamins and minerals can be reduced (see further down this article to read more about osmotic side effects).
- They are better absorbed: the active substances enter the enterocytes (intestinal cells) directly through passive fat uptake through the body’s usual fat absorption. From there they reach the bloodstream via the lymphatic system and avoid going through the liver, which would normally block some substances from making their way into the blood and other organs.
Often the only way to get such a regular or even, if needed, a high dose, of a supplement is through an injection: the delivery of vitamins through liposomes is equivalent to an injection.
Liposomes and high-dose vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, energy metabolism and the immune system. As an antioxidant, it fights cellular stress. Due to its solubility in water, excess vitamin (> 1000 mg) can be excreted relatively easily, which is why it is hard to overdose on vitamin C. This is because vitamin C transporters actively channel their freight to the inside of the intestine. If the concentration is too high, the transporters cannot keep up and the vitamin is washed out before it can be absorbed. Even in very high concentrations, vitamin C is relatively harmless. A side effect associated with vitamin C intake are a consequence of vitamin C not being absorbed in the intestine.
This is called the osmotic effect:
Since vitamin C from food supplements is often too highly concentrated, it is automatically diluted by the body. This is done by redistributing water. Osmotic diarrhoea can occur, as can nausea or cramps. The symptoms are not dissimilar to lactose intolerance, which is based on the same principle.
In general, up to 2000 mg vitamin C per day over a longer period is considered safe for adults over 19 years of age. This is referring to the amount from food and dietary supplements combined. However, if healthy people consume more over a longer period of time, side effects can occur.
Liposomes help with high-dose vitamin C uptake. Since the absorption of phospholipids is passive, the encapsulated vitamin just follows across the gut barrier. Normally the intake of doses from 1000 mg on is reduced by up to 50% in non-liposomal vitamin C products.
To sum up:
- People who use vitamin C as complementary therapy may want to take high doses non-intravenously. In liposomal vitamin C bioavailability can be increased due to the changed uptake mechanism.
- As set out above, osmotic side effects are avoided and the vitamin C is delivered in its entirety.
Liposomes and Curcumin
Curcumin is a polyphenol and polyphenols are known to have poor bioavailability. What is a polyphenol? It is a secondary plant substance. This means that they are not required for the survival of the plant cell, but for that of the plant as a whole. Most of them, such as curcumin, show antioxidant properties, have colour or smell, protect against UV radiation or pathogens. Because plants and humans are confronted with the same kinds of similar environmental stresses, logically polyphenols will also have a positive effect on our body.
However, there are a few major problems to polyphenols such as curcumin, the main one being their poor water-solubility, which in turn means the curcumin is not able to get into the bloodstream easily. On top of that, substances such as curcumin are also quickly excreted from the body. Yet if curcumin is taken as a liposomal, i.e. the curcumin is protected by liposomes, then larger amounts of curcumin can overcome the intestinal barrier. Liposomes increase transport via the lymphatic system. The first passage through the liver is delayed and plant compounds are not immediately eliminated.
This means that liposomal curcumin is not just passing through the body as it can find no access to the bloodstream in its polyphenol form, but that protected by the liposomes, will be transported to the blood cells.
That is a lot of science! But we hope that you will understand now why Yoga Nutrition is working hard to make as many of its products as possible available as a liposomal!
 Theresa M.Allena1Francis J.Martinb