Vitamin supplements come in many forms and it can be confusing to know what is best for you. Understanding the different benefits of oral supplements, IV therapy or vitamin injections can really make a difference in your overall health.
Discovering new or improved methods of getting vitamins into your cells quickly is a vital goal of nutritional manufacturing companies, and those methods largely relate to form. The term for this characteristic is bioavailability, which is the rate at which a substance is absorbed and made available to your body. It’s affected by how quickly a supplement dissolves and is absorbed in the gastrointestinal system (mostly stomach and small intestine); substances that need to be broken down the least are absorbed fastest.
Here are some key factors to keep in mind regarding supplement forms:
Tablets: This form is the most common one. According to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, only about 3 to 10 percent of the vitamins in pill or tablet form actually make it throughout your body and enter the bloodstream. Tablets have the slowest rate of bioavailability.
Capsules: Capsules are coated with a substance that makes them easier to swallow than traditional tablets. Gel-form capsules also digest more quickly than powder-form capsules, and in general, capsules have a better bioavailability than tablets but less than liquids.
Liquid: Liquids are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream because they don’t have to be broken down—and they’re much easier to swallow. As such, they have the fastest rate of bioavailability of all the over-the-counter forms.
The development of high-standard nutraceuticals is focused on providing nutrients with proven medical benefits with better concentrations and absorption rates. But what are nutraceuticals?
According to the FDA, a nutraceutical is any substance that has additional medical or health benefits beyond general nutrition and can include vitamins, minerals, herbs, foods and supplements. This broad definition leaves much room for interpretation and confusion, and many products may call themselves nutraceuticals, but they don’t really fit the bill. Nutraceuticals can be pills, capsules, liquids, juice, or just about any form that combines a food product with a medical benefit. Many supplements are also nutraceuticals, but many are not. The key to nutraceuticals is that research supported proof shows that they have medical benefit.
Nutraceuticals aim to counteract the effects of stress and free radicals by boosting your body’s immune system and reducing specific health risks. Research has proven that you can slow down various components of early aging by using the right combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants contained in nutraceuticals.
As the quest for good health continues, pharmaceutical-grade supplements are becoming more mainstream and highly popular because they provide people with that they’re looking for—the right nutrients that the body can readily absorb and utilize quickly in a delivery system with minimal wasted product through poor digestion and absorption.
Which form is best?
IV vitamin therapy and intramuscular/subcutaneous vitamin injections are most efficient, especially for aging adults, because absorption through the gastrointestinal tract is deficient when taking vitamin supplements orally.
What is the difference between IV vitamain therapy, subcutaneous injections and intramuscular injections?
A subcutaneous injection is a shot given under the skin and is usually given in the upper arm, buttocks, waist, or thighs.
An intramuscular injection is a shot given directly into the muscle and is usually given in the upper arm, buttocks or thigh.
With IV vitamin therapy, nutrients are delivered directly to the bloodstream by accessing a vein with a small needle. When vitamins are given intravenously, the digestive system is bypassed and a much higher nutrition level is delivered directly into the cells through the blood stream.
There are times when the body is so deficient of the nutrients it needs, that oral supplements cannot sufficiently do the job. IV therapy and nutrient injections are ideal to provide key nutrition needed for people struggling health issues related to aging, stress, illness and disease.
The differences among brands
Supplements don’t have to meet the same high standards that food and conventional medications do, although this regulation is changing and becoming more stringent.
Unfortunately, you’ll rarely find a supplement that is simply the intended active ingredient without the addition of some inactive substances that help mold the supplement to the right size, shape, and color and aid in its dissolving. Some of the added substances can also negatively affect the way you digest and absorb the supplements. Consider the following:
Filler: One area where supplements differ greatly is in the filler they use. Some filler is necessary to take up space, but fillers are nothing more for the supplement than volume. However, some fillers are better than others for absorption, and some companies use more filler than needed to give the appearance of a larger quantity.
Disintegrant: Disintegrants help dissolve a tablet after you swallow it. Some of the popular disintegrants are gellan gum, crospovidone, and croscarmellose sodium.
Binder: In tablets, binders are mixed with fillers to stick to the components of the tablet during compression. Some common binders are starch, cellulose, povidone, and xanthan gum.
Flavor: Flavoring is added to add a pleasant taste—or to disguise a bad taste! A few other things you can do without are added sugar, salt, or starch—a vitamin isn’t something you’re having for lunch!
Colorant: Colors are added to tablets to make telling them apart easier and so that they look more appealing. One thing you absolutely, positively have no use for in a multivitamin or supplement is artificial coloring. Vitamins don’t need to be pretty to be effective.
*Agin, B., & Perkins, S. (2008). Healthy aging for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub.
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TelewellnessMD® provides consulting and program recommendations for general health, age management, nutrition and other wellness healthcare needs through an online platform and network of wellness medical providers. Trim® Nutrition’s product line includes vitamins, supplements, protein shakes, protein bars and proprietary nutrient injections compounded in a certified licensed pharmacy using the highest quality ingredients. Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, Trim® Nutrition’s clinical staff of physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, and research and development specialists are dedicated to the mission of Making Bodies Better™.