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Last modified on November 26th, 2022
One of the reasons I feel a lot of people don’t get the results they’re hoping for when they take vitamins or supplements is that they aren’t absorbing fully. You’re excreting most of the supplements unless you’re looking at the best ways to take them for absorption.
Liposomal Glutathione are coming a long way, and that’s one way to improve your absorption of vitamins and nutrients, but there are others.
Any time I’m buying a supplement, if I can find a liposomal version, that’s what I’m getting. Liposomal supplements are packaged in a liposome, and a liposome is a little pocket of fat cells. The liposome preserves the nutrient you’re taking and improves your body’s absorption.
Liposomal vitamin C is a popular form of these supplements; this is the only version of vitamin C I’ll use.
With liposomal vitamin C, essentially, there’s a lipid bilayer of the liposome. This bilayer is similar to the membrane covering our cells, and the liposomal delivery methods replicate our cells. Once a supplement like a vitamin C is in a liposome, our body can absorb it like dietary fat.
That helps it avoid something called first-pass metabolism.
When a supplement avoids first-pass metabolism, it doesn’t have to go through the processing and break-down it does in the stomach typically, so you’re maximizing the benefits you’re getting from taking it.
Since liposomes are structured like a cell membrane, when you take liposomal supplements, it’s merging with your membranes. The contents of the liposome are then delivered right into your cell.
Liposomal supplements have a longer shelf-life too.
They’re preserved, which prevents them from degradation for longer than other supplements.
When you take a liposomal supplement, you don’t have to worry about whether you should take it with food or not. You can take it and know that it’s getting into your cells, and you’re getting the benefits.
Water-soluble and fat-soluble nutrients can be put into liposomes.
Some of the more popular liposomal supplements include vitamin C, as well as B vitamins, turmeric, glutathione, and vitamin D.
You can find liposomal supplements such as capsules, sprays, and liquids.
Fat-Soluble vs. Water-Soluble Supplements
Learning more about fat-soluble versus water-soluble supplements can help ensure you take your vitamins so they’re well-absorbed.
Deficiency of Vitamin A is one that your body stores. You have to watch how much you take of these because they can be toxic if they’re taken in high doses since they are stored. Fat-soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Water-soluble vitamins pass in your urine if you take more than your body can use. B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble.
To improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, you should have them with a meal that includes fat. For example, maybe you’re having a full-fat glass of milk or peanut butter. You can take these vitamins with olive oil, avocado, or any source of healthy fat.
You can improve absorption by vitamin D, for example, by more than 30% if you take it with dietary fat.
So what about your water-soluble vitamins? In contrast to your fat-soluble vitamins, the best time to take them is on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning is ideal before you have anything on your stomach or at least thirty minutes before eating. You want your water-soluble vitamins to be able to dissolve and absorb without food getting in their way.
When you take iron, try to take it on an empty stomach if you can manage it. It can cause nausea for some people, but when it’s on an empty stomach, it will absorb better. To increase your Liquid Iron absorption, even more, take it with vitamin C.
When you’re taking certain medications, you have to be careful about when you take vitamins and supplements. For example, if you take thyroid medication, calcium can block its absorption.
By contrast, taking grapefruit juice with many medications can increase its effects and put you at risk of overdosing.
What to Take Together and What to Take Apart
The effects of some vitamins and minerals are improved when they’re taken together.
One example is calcium, which you should take with vitamin K and vitamin D. The vitamin K and D help your bones absorb calcium.
Along with vitamin C helping you absorb iron, which was mentioned above, it can also help with constipation and nausea that can come with iron supplements.
When you take your vitamin B12, adding an acidic food or drink to the mix can help you absorb more. Acid can help break down and absorb B12 supplement.
While some vitamins and nutrients work well together and help one another be more effective, there are others that you shouldn’t combine.
Calcium can block iron absorption, and copper and zinc can interfere with one another’s absorption.
The same receptors in your digestive tract are responsible for absorbing iron, zinc, and copper. If you have too much of one of them, it will crowd the others out, and they won’t make it through the intestinal wall.
Vitamin E and vitamin K can also compete with one another. Vitamin E can reduce your absorption of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for bone mineralization, calcium metabolism, and blood clotting.
Split Your Doses
Since your body can only absorb so many water-soluble vitamins and nutrients simultaneously, you can increase how much you’re getting and absorbing by splitting your doses.
If you’re taking a high dose of vitamin C, as an example, take two or three smaller doses throughout the day to improve absorption rather than one big one.
Use Black Pepper
Along with getting liposomal supplements, I believe one of the best ways to take vitamins for absorption, and all supplements, for that matter, is to use black pepper.
Also known as Piper nigrum, black pepper has a lot of health benefits, even though we tend to think of it as just an everyday spice.
Health benefits of black pepper include:
- High in antioxidants
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Helps brain health and may improve brain function
- Improves blood sugar metabolism
- Potentially lowers cholesterol levels
- May have cancer-fighting properties
- Promotes gut health
- May help with pain relief
- Can reduce appetite
We included it on our list of the best ways to take vitamins for absorption because it helps increase the absorption of nutrients, including selenium and calcium. Black pepper extract can also boost the benefits of plant compounds like turmeric and green tea.
Taking it with food can also increase the amount of nutrients you absorb into your bloodstream.
The active component, piperine, enhances the oral bioavailability of nutraceuticals because it affects enzymes that metabolize drugs. This then decreases the first-pass metabolism of nutraceuticals and increases the levels circulating in your system.
Add Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics and digestive enzymes can be good for gut health in general. They can also help you maintain a healthy gut and promote a healthy small intestine.
Probiotics and digestive enzymes help your body digest and absorb nutrients better, including when they come from supplements.
Digestive enzymes also break your food down, allowing your body to absorb them more easily. If you have a food intolerance, such as gluten or lactose intolerance, a digestive enzyme can help you get everything you need from your food and supplements.
Be Mindful of Your Coffee Intake
If you have morning coffee or anything with caffeine, it can impede the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Caffeine is a diuretic, and Diuretics make you pee, so you’ll excrete your water-soluble vitamins before your body gets a chance to absorb them.
Try to wait at least an hour to take your supplements after you have your coffee. This is true for other drinks with caffeine as well.
Choose High-Quality Vitamins and Supplements
While supplements and vitamins can have some fantastic benefits and can empower you to take control of your health, they don’t have to be FDA-approved or regulated. This means it’s up to you to figure out which brands will be best, and remember, the lowest-priced supplement may not be the best option.
Some of the things to look for as you choose high-quality supplements and vitamins include:
- Third-party testing: Supplement companies don’t have to do third-party testing, but some manufacturers will show that their products are high-quality. They’re doing this voluntarily, and there is something called the Certificate of Analysis (COA) you can look for. The COA is given by third-party companies like NSF, ConsumerLab, or USP.
- Be careful about supplements made outside the U.S.
- Look for products that are free of harmful contaminants.
- Check the actual amount of active ingredients that are in your supplements. We’re not always fans of proprietary blends because they tend to have minimal amounts of all the ingredients, so even if you’re getting something with a long list of things in the formulation, it’s not always the best bang for your buck.
Finally, store them properly to get the most effectiveness from your supplements and keep them lasting as long as possible. Store supplements and vitamins in a cool, dark, and dry place, and don’t store them in damp areas like your bathrooms. Go through your stash of supplements regularly to ensure they aren’t past their date of expiration. Their effectiveness can degrade if they’re expired.
Seeking Health. “Liposomal Supplements: Bioavailability, Benefits & More.” Accessed October 10, 2022.
Akbarzadeh, Abolfazl, et al. “Liposome: Classification, preparation, and applications.” Nanoscale Research Letters, February 22, 2013. Accessed October 10, 222.
Lykstad, Jacqueline and Sharma, Sandeep. “Biochemistry, Water Soluble Vitamins.” NIH National Library of Medicine, March 9, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2022.
NIH National Library of Medicine. “Fat Soluble Vitamins.” Accessed October 10, 2022.
Ems, Thomas, et al. “Biochemistry, Iron Absorption.” NIH National Library of Medicine, April 21, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2022.
Health Essentials. “What Are the Health Benefits of Black Pepper?” Cleveland Clinic, August 4, 2021. Accessed October 10, 2022.
Cicetti, Fred. “Does Coffee Kill the Benefits of Vitamins?” Live Science, February 22, 2010. Accessed October 10, 2022.
Loria, Kevin. “How to Choose Supplements Wisely.” Consumer Reports, October 30, 2019. Accessed October 10, 2022.