Liposomal Supplements: What Are They?

Perhaps you have heard of liposomal supplements?  Most commonly vitamin C, glutathione, vitamin D and curcumin are available in this form.  Liposomes are an excellent delivery method for nutrients.

The word liposome comes from the Greek words ‘lipo’ for fat and ‘soma’ for body.  Liposomes are spherical ‘sacs’ consisting of a double ring of fatty-acid molecules—phosphatidylcholine molecules.  The liposomal spherical ‘sac’ can be used to enclose and deliver whatever the ‘sac’ contains direct into the cells and body tissues.

This transportation is facilitated by the cell membrane which, composed of phospholipids like the liposome, easily blends with the phosphatidylcholine of the liposome, incorporating into the cell via a fusion and ‘blending’ process, permitting the easy inclusion of the liposome’s enclosed active substance into the cell where it can readily provide benefit.

In fact, the body naturally produces liposomes around ingested nutrients using phosphatidylcholine.  This process takes time, whereas providing liposomal nutrients (nutrients contained within liposomes) greatly speeds up the absorption process for the nutrient.  Timing of the dose does not require accompaniment or exclusion of food as the absorption via the liposome avoids the digestive processes.

Phosphatidylcholine (phospholipid attached to a choline particle) is a major component of biological membranes and, so, is naturally-occurring in the body, where it has a wide-range of uses, including to make the brain chemical acetylcholine.

Phospholipids, which are found throughout the body in the membranes of body cells, are so naturally-occurring, that the body recognises these as body-compatible and does not treat them as ‘toxic’ or ‘foreign’—and, so, does not mount an immune attack on the liposome.

There are advantages of this liposomal delivery system for supplements. Both water-soluble and fat-soluble active ingredients can be liposome-encapsulated and delivered to cells.  The phospholipid membrane(s) protect the enclosed substance from degradation and getting ‘lost’ in the gastrointestinal tract.  This means liposomal delivery may particularly benefit those with digestive issues who may not absorb nutrients readily.  Any gastrointestinal side effects can also be avoided. And, as already mentioned, the natural lipids are compatible with human tissue so are not considered ‘toxic’ or ‘foreign’ by the body.  Liposomal delivery permits direct and efficient delivery of nutrient to the cells.

The high-tech manufacturing process makes liposomal nutrients more expensive than ‘normal’ nutrients, but also allows a highly bioavailable delivery system for high therapeutic doses which may be needed for some individuals, and, for general use, allows efficient direct delivery of nutrients without having to go through the digestive system, which means a lower dose of the nutrient, when delivered via liposome, may be equivalent in effect to a much higher dose conventionally delivered by tablet/capsule.

For some nutrients, ordinary, traditional, non-liposomal products generally have low absorption and bioavailability—this fact is clinically well-documented.  Liposome science allows improved nutrient absorption and higher bioavailability, and, like other liposomal products, dry liposomal powder products, allow this enhanced bioavailability. Liposomal delivery is particularly useful for nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, glutathione and curcumin.

The primary advantage of liposomal supplements is delivery of larger doses direct to cells. In the case of vitamin C, this can be very useful in situations when you would like to take a large dose of vitamin C, but the large dose of ascorbic acid by tablet/capsule/powder might result in diarrhoea or deliver too high a dose of the accompanying mineral (e.g. with mineral ascorbates).   

Dry liposomal powders have other advantages over liquid liposomal products, including neutral taste, longer shelf life, and no need for other ‘undesirable’ substances such as preservatives, or flavouring. 

Look for dry liposomal powder nutrients that are produced without chemicals, high temperatures or high pressure, as well as being conveniently available encapsulated. Dry liposomal powders can provide high-quality, readily bioavailable nutrients for direct and immediate use by the body.

provided by: Rose Holmes, Registered Nutritionist, mBANT, BSc, Dip.ION, PGCE

May 01, 2020 by Rose Holmes