Necessity is the mother of invention (innovation), a commonly used proverb when someone comes up with a way to do things better or hasn’t been done previously. This proverb is not limited to ultra-technical fields and is now quite the driving force for innovation in the dietary supplement industry. Culturally, we seek to make things bigger, better, and stronger and look for ways to improve on what we already have. Imagine if Henry Ford had never devised his idea to have a moving assembly line. His innovation reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to less than two hours, helped lower the cost, and improved his automobile’s quality. You may not have heard of Julio Palmaz, but he was an interventional vascular radiologist known for inventing the balloon-expandable stent. Some say this is one of the most important inventions of all time. Out of necessity comes invention.
Bioavailability: What Is Bioavailability?
Bioavailability is the technical word for how well (how much and how fast) an ingredient/drug/nutrient is absorbed into your bloodstream. A higher bioavailability generally means more nutrients are absorbed than conventional methods. Conversely, if an ingredient is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream, it is less likely to benefit the health we seek.
- Better absorption into the bloodstream should yield better results from your supplement.
- Better solubility allows for better absorption and more methods of consuming the supplement, i.e., instead of just tablets or capsules, we can have effervescent powders, gummies, and stick packs. Who doesn’t have “pill fatigue”?
Why is Bioavailability important?
Oral bioavailability is one of the essential properties in product design and development. A high oral bioavailability reduces the amount of an administered ingredient necessary to achieve a desired biological or physiological effect and, therefore, could reduce the risk of side effects and toxicity. For example, in the supplement world, if you originally had to take 500mg of ingredient x to get a result, you may only need 250mg now. This opens the door to better compliance (fewer pills and capsules), smaller dose sizes, the ability to combine efficacious doses of multiple active ingredients, etc. A win, win, win situation.
Real Life Bioavailability
There are several examples of technology to share here. One is LipiSperse® which has been applied to several difficult-to-absorb ingredients, such as Curcumin (HydroCurc®) and PEA (Levagen®+). “LipiSperse® is a patented, novel delivery system that uses dispersion technology to enhance the bioavailability of hydrophobic agents.”[i] Translation: LipiSperse® makes ingredients that have poor absorption or don’t mix well in water better absorbed and easily dispersed in water. Consider that your bloodstream is primarily made of water; this can play a critical role in getting nutrients into the body and the areas in need.
Embedding into a whey protein matrix
A great example of this technology is the ingredient lycopene. This may sound technical, but simply put, they take lycopene and implant it inside whey protein to help reduce the particle size of lycopene. This reduction in particle size is believed to be the reason SibeliusTM: LactoMato has improved bioavailability compared to other sources of lycopene. As stated above, you will get better absorption and enhanced amounts in circulation by enhancing bioavailability.
Liposomes are double-layer, liquid-filled bubbles made up of a lipid (fat) membrane (like our cell membrane), and a core made up of water. They can keep water-loving ingredients (like vitamin C) in the center of the “bubble” or fat-loving ingredients (like vitamin D) in the double-layered fat membrane. While most commercially available “liposomal” products are made using the same ingredients (for example, phospholipids), they are generally creating emulsions rather than liposomes. A phospholipid emulsion does not offer the proper absorption of genuine liposomal formulations. The newest technology, “PlexoZome®, is scientifically proven and validated to provide genuine liposomes with precise particle sizes and stability of the finished ingredient.
Advantages of Liposomes
High Bioavailability and Absorption- The liposome easily passes through your intestines, into your blood, and enters your cells, making the nutrient more bioavailable. In cell culture studies, liposomes can increase intracellular delivery 100-fold over non-liposomal delivery.
Better Tolerated- The liposome’s outside fat layer prevents the nutrient from directly contacting the stomach and intestines. This allows high doses of nutrients, such as vitamin C, to be better tolerated, reducing intestinal discomfort.
Added Layer of Protection
Liposomes also protect the ingredients inside the “bubble” from harmful free radicals or the body’s natural defense mechanisms (for example, macrophages), which can render the ingredient less or even not effective.
Liposomes contribute to the stability of the ingredient(s) found within. This will help to maintain the effectiveness of the ingredient over time.
AquaCelle® is a patented delivery system designed and clinically proven to optimize the bioavailability of liquid fat-based products such as Omega-3s[ii], CoQ10[iii], astaxanthin, lutein, etc. AquaCelle® helps reduce the size of the oil droplets and increase the interaction of the enzyme lipase (naturally produced by the body) with the fat droplets. This improved interaction improves the absorption (bioavailability) of liquid oil products (omega-3s). This process is often referred to as micelle production, which naturally occurs in the body. However, for many people, this process is slow or inefficient, which is why using AquaCelle® technology with a liquid fat supplement ingredient supports improved absorption and the body’s natural function.
Simply put, nanotechnology is the manufacture and use of sub-microscopic particles (nanometers). For those challenged by the metric system, there are a million nanometers in 1 millimeter (which is the thickness of a hair). The smaller particle size allows for more rapid and complete nutrient absorption into the body. In addition, being super-small may also enable the ingredient to enter critical areas of the body (for example, your cells) not normally accessible with larger particle sizes.
While this blog focused primarily on improving the bioavailability of your dietary supplement ingredients, keep in mind that there are several other areas in which technology is enhancing your supplements too. As a consumer, I seek newer technologies to improve my life and lifestyle. So look for these branded technologies when shopping for your next supplement or functional food.
[i] Briskey D, Sax A, Mallard AR, Rao A. Increased bioavailability of curcumin using a novel dispersion technology system (LipiSperse®). Eur J Nutr. 2019 Aug;58(5):2087-2097. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1766-2. Epub 2018 Jul 4. PMID: 29974228
[ii] A self-emulsifying omega-3 ethyl ester formulations AquaCelle® significantly improves eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid bioavailability in healthy adults. Bremmell, K.E., Briskey, D., Meola, T.R. et al. Eur J Nutr 59, 2729–2737 (2020). doi.org/10.1007/s00394-019-02118-x
[iii] The impact of micelle size and increased absorption of ubiquinone using a novel delivery system (AquaCelle®). David Briskey, Andrew T Sax, Alistair R Mallard, Charlie Ng and Amanda Rao. International Journal of Pharmacokinetics vol.4, no.2. doi.org/10.4155/ipk-2019-0004