We are always looking to get the most out of the supplements that we use. We want to be sure that they use the latest technological developments to boost our circulating and tissue concentrations of essential nutrients. Liposomal technology is a relatively new method of targeted nutrient or vitamin delivery that appears to be superior to standard oral supplement technology. In this article, we’ll be discussing what liposomal technology is and how it differs from standard oral supplements.
Liposomes – A Short History
Liposomes were first discovered by Alec Bangham in 1961. The British hematologist first published his findings on liposomes in 1964. Starting in the 1970s, liposomal technology was extensively studied as a potential nutrient delivery system.
It was in the 1990s that it began to be studied for its potential role as a Dietary Supplement delivery system. As of 2016, it was expected that the use of liposomes in the nutraceutical industry will grow rapidly over the next 5-10 years.
What are Liposome’s?
In short, liposome’s are a type of delivery vehicle that transport substances into the body effectively through direct absorption in the mouth, and help prevent the premature breakdown of the substances by stomach acids.
Let’s dive deeper:
Structurally, liposome’s are micro-sized fluid-filled spheres made up of a bi-layer or double-layer of phospholipids. Phospholipids are the most abundant type of lipid that makes up cell membranes. A phospholipid molecule is comprised of a hydrophilic head and two hydrophobic fatty acid tails.
Hydrophilic means having a strong liking for water; hydrophobic means having a strong fear and/or hatred of water.
When a phospholipid molecule is put into a water-based solution, the fatty acid tails rapidly move to free themselves from the liquid, similarly to how oil separates from vinegar.
The tails turn inward, and the head, made up of a phosphate group, turns toward the liquid, which forms the spherical double-layered membrane. The lipid bi-layers of liposomes can combine with the bi-layered cell membranes to deliver the contents of the liposomes to cells or tissues.
That is how liposome’s serve as a vehicle for administering nutrients.
Phospholipids and Phosphatidylcholine
But where do phospholipids come from?
Phospholipids are isolated from lecithins produced from different seed oils, such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil. Lecithin and purified lecithin fractions are graded according to the percentage of phosphatidylcholine that they contain.
Raw lecithins contain roughly 15% phosphatidylcholine; higher-graded lecithin fractions may have anywhere from 50%-95% phosphatidylcholine.
You may be wondering:
What is phosphatidylcholine, and why is it important?
Phosphatidylcholine has had a long history of being used as a therapeutic, and is widely considered to be the most beneficial type of phospholipid. It serves as the primary structural support of human cell membranes.
To that point, after it helps deliver the nutrient contents of the liposomes, which include vitamins and minerals, phosphatidylcholine also provides nutrition to the brain, liver, and cells, as well as serves important functions in the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. In regards to liposomal technology, phosphatidylcholine has the greatest versatility in liposomal vitamins.
Back to phospholipids:
The different types of phospholipids include:
- Hydrogenated phospholipids and saturated phospholipids are stiffer phospholipids that make stiffer membranes that may improve absorption in the GI tract.
- Unsaturated phospholipids sourced from soybean or sunflower oil make a more flexible membrane that should improve intraoral absorption.
The Benefits of Liposomal Technology
Now, let’s get into the benefits of this technology.
Nutrients and vitamins alike are inserted into the liposomal spheres, which provide numerous advantages. One of the primary advantages of this delivery system is that liposome’s protect their contents of vitamins and minerals from being released early, and being broken down by the acidity of the gastrointestinal tract. The micro-sized liposomes interact with the mucus layer covering the surface of epithelial cells in the gastrointestinal tract.
This increases the time that the nutrients spend at the area where absorption takes place, increasing their absorption and bio availability. After oral administration, the small size of the liposome’s allow them to spread out through the small intestine. This allows the liposome encapsulated nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to achieve a controlled, reproducible release with not only increased absorption, but also minimizing potential side effects.
Sounds promising, right?
Another important advantage of liposomal technology is the increased absorption and bio availability compared to other oral forms of nutrient or vitamin administration. Standard oral forms of nutrient or vitamin administration have been clinically documented as providing low absorption rates and bio availability.
By protecting nutrients or vitamins from being prematurely broken down by the gastrointestinal tract, more of the nutrients or vitamins make it to the bloodstream to be quickly transported to and utilized by the cells, tissues, and organs.
It gets even better!
Yet another important benefit is that nutrients and compounds of different solubility can be encapsulated in liposomes.
Hydrophilic or water-soluble nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C can be encapsulated within the fluid-filled spheres. Lipophilic or fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamin A and Vitamin E can be encapsulated within the lipid bi-layer.
These are all important benefits, but how does liposomal supplements differ from intravenous administration?
Compared to intravenous administration, liposomal delivery is more cost-efficient and convenient.
Additionally, according to various clinical studies, liposomal-delivered nutrients are sustained at higher levels in the blood plasma for much longer. They are better absorbed in the lymphatic system, cells, tissues, and the brain, where these nutrients can do their work.
Liposomal Technology is the Best Way to Get the Most Out of Your Dietary Supplements
The unique formulation of liposome’s makes them able to carry both water-soluble and fat-soluble nutrients, or vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Most importantly, Liposomal Technology provides increased absorption, bio availability, and intracellular delivery with minimal side effects, compared to standard oral supplementation.
It also provides higher circulating levels of nutrients in the lymphatic system and, eventually, the systemic circulation, and is more cost-efficient and convenient compared to intravenous administration. You should take the necessary steps to keep your levels of essential vitamins and minerals within their healthy, normal ranges for your overall health and well-being.