Found in almost any multivitamin, immune support, ergogenic aid or fortified orange juice, vitamin C is taken for a variety of reasons necessary for our health.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays an important role in various functions of our body such as:
- Maintaining the normal function of the immune system
- Helping with collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth
- Ensuring the normal functioning of the nervous system
- Reducing tiredness and fatigue and
- Helping to protect cells from oxidative stress
Limitations of Vitamin C
There are many reasons for taking vitamin C supplements. Unfortunately, there are also two well-known problems with consuming high-dose ascorbic acid supplements.
- The more you take, the less is absorbed. This makes high dosages inefficient.
- The more you take, the more likely you will get unpleasant GI side effects.
Luckily, encapsulation of the vitamin into phospholipid spheres (liposomes) could help with both of these problems.
Liposomes are the Solution
The GI distress caused by too much vitamin C is due to osmotic forces. This basically means vitamin C attracts water, leading to dehydration. In turn, this can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps and other gastrointestinal disturbances.
Liposomal vitamin C is hidden in phospholipid spheres. This reduces its dehydrating side effects.
Additionally, normal absorption in the intestine is carried out through a number of cellular transporters. However, due to the limited capacity of the transporters, there is limited absorption of vitamin C. Packing vitamin C into liposomes could help it passively cross the intestinal cells and avoid these intestinal transporter barriers.
Why Did We Want to Study Our Product?
Our mission is to show that liposomal encapsulated supplements can really make a difference to supplement absorption. With this human study, we wanted to prove that our product can specifically overcome the problems associated with vitamin C absorption, with ease.
What Did We Look at?
- We tested 20 healthy adults. This is an adequate group size for pilot tests like ours.
- 10 people were given 1 000mg of our liquid liposomal vitamin C (liposomal group) and 10 other people received 1 000mg of non-liposomal vitamin C in tablet form (standard group).
- Next, we drew blood before giving the participants the supplements (a baseline measurement) and then one hour, two hours, and six hours after supplementation. We did this for the liposomal and standard group in order to compare their effectiveness. That way, we could measure how much and how fast the supplement was absorbed.
- Once we received the laboratory plasma ascorbic acid level results for every participant, at every time point, we calculated the maximum blood concentration (Cmax) of vitamin C and the time at which it occurred (Tmax).
- The area under the curve (AUC) was calculated as well. This is the pharmacological equivalent of what many people refer to as bioavailability. It tells us how much of an ingested nutrient reaches the bloodstream, for how long it stays there, and thus how much of it can actively be used by the body.
What We Found
1. Maximum Blood Concentration
The average maximum ascorbic acid concentration (Cmax) in the liposomal group was 2.20mg/dL. The Cmax for the standard group was 0.83 mg/dL. This means that 2.7 times more vitamin C got into the bloodstream in the liposomal group as compared to the non-liposomal group. This suggests that liposomes are able to help vitamin C to overcome the gastrointestinal barriers and enter the bloodstream at a higher concentration.
2. Time until Maximum Blood Concentration
The liposomal group had a Tmax of 360 minutes while the Tmax in the standard group was 60 minutes. Since the uptake mechanisms of the two groups are different, the time they take to reach the bloodstream are also different. This also suggests that the release of vitamin C into the bloodstream is sustained and slow thanks to liposomal encapsulation. It is probable therefore, that the supplement’s effect could last longer. This could reduce the need for multiple dosing.
3. How did the Groups Compare?
We looked further at the data to see if there were differences between the two groups for all other parameters. We plotted this as a graph pictured in the image below.
- First we looked at the baseline plasma ascorbic acid measurements i.e. before the supplement was taken. These values were not statistically different, which is good! This means that each group started at a level playing field.
- Next we looked at the one hour mark. The amount of vitamin C in the blood increased for both groups, but were not statistically different from one another. This means that absorption at this point was not different for either group.
- The next time point (two hours), starts to tell a good story. Here we saw that the average vitamin C concentration in the liposomal group was significantly higher than in the standard group. More interesting is that in the standard group, the vitamin C levels actually began to decrease at this point. So after one hour, where the vitamin C concentration in the blood of the liposomal group was just beginning to increase, the standard group had already reached its peak.
This trend continued for the next 4 hours i.e. the amount of vitamin C in the blood continued to rise for the liposomal group while it is already leaving the blood in the standard group.
What Does this Mean?
Our study suggests that the amount absorbed from a single dose of our liposomal vitamin C product is higher than a comparative non-liposomal product. This means that the liposomal formulation is more bioavailable than the standard supplement at the same dose.
This could basically mean that food supplements like vitamin C that were limited by their poor absorption in the past, can now become powerful tools. Thanks to liposomal technology, deficiencies can be combated and good health can be promoted in the future.
Can we improve our study?
At PlantaCorp, we believe that there is always scope for improvement. The results of this bioavailability study can be improved by conducting the study in larger and more diverse groups. Also, since our results suggest that liposomal vitamin C levels could increase even more after six hours, we wish to measure vitamin C for longer periods of time and in more frequent intervals. Finally, we would like to see how liposomal vitamin C compares to a non-liposomal high-dose supplement to show just how much vitamin C liposomes can deliver to our bodies.
We actually performed a new vitamin C study with some improvements. You can see the outline here or contact us for information on other bioavailability studies we have conducted with other ingredients.
Vitamin C’s bioavailability is limited by several factors including high doses and the transporters in the intestine. Therefore, liposomes are a very interesting solution to provide effective vitamin C supplements for those who wish to benefit from its health benefits.