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Multiple forms of multivitamins

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Ask the Experts
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Q: Multivitamins come in so many different formats: tablets, liquids, gummies, and capsules. Is there a difference in how my body will absorb the nutrients when delivered in different ways?

A: The absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is a complex process. Numerous factors influence how your body captures and absorbs both dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.

Disintegration of tablets, gummies, or capsules determines how well your body will absorb the nutrients. Binders, fillers, and lubricants are required nonmedicinal ingredients in tablets that slow their disintegration time (hours).

Hypromellose and gelatin capsules, on the other hand, have superior disintegration times (20 minutes with or without food), ensuring the nutrients are readily available for your body to absorb. Additionally, hypromellose and gelatin capsules are less likely to cause stomach upset.

Once the nutraceutical(s) are released, their potencies and therapeutic effects may be limited or reduced because of partial degradation in the harsh environment of the stomach. Likewise, the stomach lining must be protected from the abrasiveness of some nutraceuticals.

New technological advances have shifted focus to natural emulsifiers such as natural sugars and oils, including omega fatty acids and phospholipids, to encapsulate the nutraceuticals, protect them from the low pH and digestive enzymes in the stomach, and ensure their safe arrival in the small intestine.

Emulsified and oil-encapsulated nutraceuticals, delivered via softgel capsules, do not require binders, fillers, lubricants, or preservatives to either sustain their potency or enhance their absorption. In fact, the oils have significant health values as well as optimizing the delivery of the nutraceuticals.

Finally, intestinal absorption of nutraceuticals is significantly enhanced when they are encapsulated in oils and emulsifiers. They simply diffuse across the cell membrane or between the intestinal cells and into the circulatory system, which whisks them away to the body’s primary distribution centre—the liver.

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