With take-out and fast-food fare replacing good old home cooking in many American households, the need for vitamin supplements has become even more compelling now than ever before. Vitamins and minerals play a significant role in the growth and development of children and in the maintenance of good health for people of all ages. The amount or quantity of each micronutrient that an individual needs depends on factors such as age, gender, state of one’s health and certain medical conditions. Thus, children, pregnant or lactating women, the elderly and the diseased all have different needs in the type and amount of vitamins and minerals they should take.
One issue that has been a subject of study in the health industry and that has many people baffled is the form in which vitamins should be taken to reap their maximum benefits. In the market, one can find liquid vitamins and liquid minerals and to the uninformed, it can be quite a challenge deciding to go liquid or solid. An analysis of specific properties will enlighten consumers on the pros and cons of each form so that they can arrive at an educated decision.
Absorption, in pharmacology, is the movement of a drug from its entry point into the bloodstream. The absorption rate, expressed in percentage, should preferably be high for the drug to be most effective.
Absorption involves a process of passing through organs and membranes before it reaches the circulatory system. The solid form of any drug or supplement must dissolve before it can be absorbed. Hence, a tablet must stay in the stomach, intestines and liver for dissolution. The stomach, GI tract and liver are places where acid secretions and degrading enzymes promote drug metabolism. When massive metabolism occurs, vitamin extraction can be so excessive that no nutrient reaches the bloodstream anymore. On the other hand, a 2006 study showed that vitamins in tablet form did not dissolve in stomach fluids after 20 minutes. Although the study was not conclusive, it showed the probability of vitamin tablets being excreted in the stool instead of having them absorbed into the body.
In contrast, the liquid vitamin supplement readily passes through the gastrointestinal tract without having to linger in it. Dissolution is not necessary and while absorption is not 100 percent complete, it is double the rate of tablet vitamins at the cellular level.
Bioavailability, defined by the Merck Manual as “the extent to and rate at which the active drug enters systemic circulation, thereby accessing the site of action,” is the most significant property of a drug as it determines the medicinal efficacy to produce the desired response. The rate and extent of absorption are two essential features of a drug’s bioavailability. The higher a drug’s rate and extent of absorption, the greater is its bioavailability, which makes the drug more effective in achieving its prophylactic and therapeutic purposes.
As stated above, the tablet form of vitamin supplements has a lower absorption rate compared to liquid vitamins that do not have to pass the dissolution process. It's only logical to conclude then that liquid vitamins have higher bioavailability and are therefore better in delivering their benefits to the user.
Facility in Ingestion
The liquid form is easier to swallow than tablets and pills. Liquid vitamins used to be only for children, the elderly and those who had difficulty taking medicines in solid form. Not anymore. Liquid vitamins have gained visibility due to their increasing popularity. Since most vitamins do not taste bitter like medicine, its liquid version isn’t difficult to take in too. Knowing their advantage over the tablet form in absorption and bioavailability, a number of consumers have shifted from tablet vitamin supplements to liquid vitamins.
Admittedly, liquid vitamins cost a little more than their solid counterpart. And it’s only natural; quality, after all, comes with a heftier price tag. Forget the “high quality, low price” sales pitch. It’s an urban myth that businessmen like to promote to gullible buyers.
In conclusion, liquid vitamins offer several advantages over the tablet form in the pharmacokinetic angle. The micronutrients are absorbed in the body faster when taken in liquid form rather than in their solid version. Faster absorption equates to higher bioavailability, extracting the value of each drop of vitamin, boosting a person’s immunity and ultimately producing a healthier person.