Liposomal Food Supplements: Adding value to our lives

PlantaCorp GmbH
Liposomal Food Supplements
6 min readNov 16, 2020

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The market is flooded with several types of food supplements, making it difficult to choose one that does exactly what it says. It is no secret that we believe in the power of liposomal formulations in adding value to our lives. This article could help you decide why food supplements enhanced by liposomal encapsulation technology should be your best choice too.

What are food supplements & Why we need them

Food supplements refer to the consumption of nutrients in a concentrated, dose form, outside of our regular diets [1,2]. A dose form indicates the ingestion of a measured dose of a nutrient in the form of tablets, syrups or capsules. As we mentioned in our previous post on food supplements, our bodies cannot synthesize a lot of the essential nutrients we need. Ageing, disease, heavy physical activity and improper and imbalanced diets lead to nutritional deficiencies. Food supplementation is thus, the need of the hour for a majority of the world population.

Available forms of food supplements

“Food supplements can be categorized based on the type or source of the active ingredient.”

One way to categorize food supplements is based on the type of active ingredient. Food supplements are thus categorized as vitamins, minerals and proteins. Another way to categorize them is by using the nature of the source of the ingredients. We can then, therefore, classify food supplements as:

1. Natural supplements

Natural food supplements are those in which the ingredients are all sourced from plant, animal or microbial sources. The natural extracts are then packaged in their unmodified form. These could include ingredients such as curcumin, bovine collagen and resveratrol in the PlantaCorp line of products.

2. Semi-synthetic supplements

Semi-synthetic supplements have ingredients that typically derive from natural sources but are then chemically modified. The modification of ingredients is necessary, in some cases, in order to obtain a biologically active or biologically available form that the human body can process. For example, the modification of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin K or Vitamin A, so that they become water-soluble, have been proposed [3].

3. Synthetic supplements

A synthetic supplement is wholly artificially created. This is beneficial especially in cases where the natural source may be scarce or unavailable due to ethical reasons. We chemically synthesize most of our B vitamins.

The disadvantages of current food supplements

You may know most of the widely consumed supplements as “traditional” food supplements. The manufacturing process uses traditional or well-established technology. In most cases, these supplements have the goal of complementing your diet and completing your daily nutritional requirement. No matter which form of food supplement is currently available in the market though, a majority of them are unable to deliver the full dose of the active ingredient that they contain. This is true for healthy individuals as well.

Why traditional food supplements are unable to deliver their full potential

Although many of the currently available supplements contain higher than the daily required dose of a nutrient, the body can only absorb a usually lower limit of the nutrient. The rest is eliminated through urine or faeces. Another reason for the inefficacy of some food supplements is that they are easily destroyed by the enzymes in saliva or the acids in the stomach. This happens even before absorption by the intestine for delivery into the bloodstream. The third reason for their inefficacy is that many nutrients are poorly water-soluble. This means that they will require a carrier protein or fat to be able to be delivered to their site of action.

“Traditional food supplements are mostly inefficient because of overloading, destruction by the digestive system and poor water solubility.”

Liposome-encapsulated food supplements

The image shows a typical phospholipid that has a water-loving phospho head and two water-repelling lipid tails.
Typical phospholipid structure

An emerging trend in food supplements are liposomal formulations of food supplements. Liposomes are man-made, phospholipid bilayer spheres. A phospholipid molecule, like a fat molecule, is composed of two hydrophobic (water-repelling) lipid tails. However, they also contain a hydrophilic (water-loving) phospho head. Thus, when arranged as a bilayer (two layers) sphere such that the heads face outside and the lipids face each other, the liposome is water-soluble.

Our body’s cell membranes are naturally made of phospholipid bilayers. In order to make phospholipids into liposomes outside of the body, however, we need to provide energy to the system. This is why liposomes are man-made.

The similarity in structure between a cell membrane and a liposomal phopspholipid bilayer is seen here.

The advantages of liposome-encapsulated food supplements over traditional food supplements

“Liposomes can effectively deliver fat-soluble and water-soluble nutrients to the blood stream.”

Fat-soluble nutrients are encapsulated between the lipid bilayer. Water-soluble ones are encapsulated in the aqueous core.
Encapsulation of nutrients in a liposome

Having an aqueous (water) core and a lipid bilayer surrounding it, liposomes are able to encapsulate both water-soluble and fat-soluble substances within the sphere. Once encapsulated, they can deliver an active ingredient safely to the bloodstream [4]. The protection of the active ingredient ensures that it can safely cross biological barriers such as the acidic environment of the stomach. Further, fat-soluble nutrients such as curcumin, are better absorbed by the body when accompanied by lipid molecules [5]. Finally, since liposomes are able to increase the availability of a certain nutrient in the bloodstream, lower doses of the nutrient can be consumed. This ensures that the body eliminates very little of the nutrient. Maximum absorption of a nutrient thus means, maximum nutritional effect.

The disadvantages of liposome-encapsulated food supplements over traditional food supplements

As such, there are no known disadvantages of plant-based liposomes as they are biocompatible. They are non-toxic and are easily eliminated from our body by macrophages [6].

One of the limiting factors for liposomal formulations is cost. Liposomal formulations are a trifle more expensive than traditional food supplements of the same dosage because they are a new technology. However, with the increased adoption of liposomal food supplements, we foresee that this difference will soon be a thing of the past. Further, as outlined above, the nutritional advantages far exceed the current cost limitations.

Key takeaways

· Traditional food supplements are those manufactured using well-established practices.

· Traditional food supplements do not always complete our normal diets. They suffer from problems of overloading, destruction by the digestive system and poor water solubility.

· Liposomal formulations are an emerging category of food supplements. Liposomes are phospholipid bilayer spheres capable of encapsulating both water-soluble and fat-soluble nutrients.

· Liposome-encapsulated food supplements have several advantages over traditional food supplements. They can protect their contents from gastric destruction thus effectively being able to deliver almost all their content into the bloodstream.

References

1. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/food-supplements

2. The National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheets. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/

3. Hirota Y & Suhara Y. New Aspects of Vitamin K Research with Synthetic Ligands: Transcriptional Activity via SXR and Neural Differentiation Activity. Int J Mol Sci. (2019); 20 (12): 3006.

4. Shade CW. Liposomes as Advanced Delivery Systems for Nutraceuticals. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016;15(1):33–36.

5. Stohs SJ, Chen O, Ray SD et al. Highly Bioavailable Forms of Curcumin and Promising Avenues for Curcumin-Based Research and Application: A Review. Molecules (2020); 25: 1397.

6. Porter CJH, Trevaskis NL and Charman WN. Lipids and lipid-based formulations: optimizing the oral delivery of lipophilic drugs. Nature Reviews (2007); 6: 231–248.

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PlantaCorp GmbH
Liposomal Food Supplements

ISO22000 and GMP-certified producer of Liposomal supplements in Germany. Our unique encapsulation technology provides access to high-quality food supplements.