At aguulp, we often hear the question, ‘How long does it take for our supplements to show results?’ It’s a valid question, especially for newcomers to the world of supplementation. To provide you with the answers you seek, we’ve consulted our in-house experts.
In this week’s Expert Series, we’ll explore different supplement types, delve into the factors that influence their effectiveness, and shine a spotlight on the groundbreaking liposomal technology that drives aguulp’s supplements.
Why do we need supplements?
Firstly, it is important to understand what nutrients are and why we need them at all.
Nutrients play a fundamental role in maintaining both physical and mental health, they are needed for energy, organ function, food utilisation and cell growth. Our main source of nutrients is food, however research shows that due to a number of factors, the likelihood is that it is impossible to obtain everything we need from food alone, and these factors are likely to contribute to nutritional deficiencies. Factors including:
- farming methods
- quality of soil
- genetic modification
- poor diet and processed foods
In 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a research study concluding that every adult should take a multivitamin since it is impossible to obtain all the nutrients needed in our daily food intake today (Fletcher and Fairfield, 2002).
Whilst nutritional supplements have been shown to serve as an alternative solution in addressing nutritional deficiencies or as an insurance policy to ensure we are obtaining what we need from a nutritional perspective, two common questions often arise when it comes to using nutritional supplements: which type of supplement is best and how long it takes for supplements to work?
The supplement market offers a wide variety of different products in the form of tablets, capsules, liquids, soft gels, chewable tablets and powders, however it is believed certain supplements may not be as effective as others and for the uneducated consumer, knowing which supplement is best can be a minefield.
What are the different forms of supplements?
Here we take a look at the different forms of supplements that are available on the market and what the advantages and disadvantages are for each;
Tablets: Tablets have been, until recently, one of the more common and widely available forms of supplements, however, due to growing research and innovations in the supplement market, tablets may now be considered a less superior form of nutrient delivery compared to other methods available. Latest research suggests that as little as 10-20% of the nutrients in pills are absorbed, resulting in a considerable amount of unabsorbed material in the gut. The National Advisory Board states that 100mg consumed in tablet form translates into a concentration of only 8.3mg (8.3%) in the blood (Bennet et al, 1995). The advantages of tablets however include:
- considered to be the most cost effective form due to the ability to maximise the number of ingredients into a given space.
- tend to have a longer shelf life compared to other forms
- generally retain their potency for longer periods of time
A major issue with tablets however is size and the potential for being difficult to swallow for certain consumers. Dosing in tablet form can also be quite restrictive.
Capsules: Unlike tablets, capsules cannot be compressed which may restrict the amount of ingredients due to limitations with space, which may also limit the potency. Capsules tend to have a shorter shelf life than tablets and can be more expensive. On the plus side, capsules usually can be opened to empty the contents, quite often to add to liquid or fluids, making it an easier option or solution to those with swallowing difficulties.
Softgels: tend to be utilised for liquid or oil based supplements and because they are air tight they generally have a longer shelf life than other forms of supplements. Due to their smooth texture they are considered to be easier to swallow however, softgels belong to a specialised market and therefore tend to be more expensive than other forms.
Chewables: The main advantage of chewable supplements over other forms is that they are suitable for children and for those with swallowing difficulties. They do however tend to be lower potency compared to other forms and as the taste will be a big factor, many manufacturers will use added sugar or sweeteners to enhance the flavour, which can be a disadvantage for the health conscious consumer.
Powders: Powders are more practical when higher doses are required. They offer great flexibility in terms of dosing and are generally cost effective. Can be a good option for those with swallowing difficulties or for young children as quite often powders can be added to drinks. There is the potential for added ingredients such as sugar and sweeteners for the purpose of flavour enhancement which can be a disadvantage.
Liquids: Research suggests that liquid supplements are a superior form of nutrient delivery attributed mainly to the rate at which nutrients are absorbed. One pilot study evaluating the bioavailability and absorption rates of two B12 supplements demonstrated that absorption rate significantly increased in a liquid form rather than a solid form (Herbert, 1996).
Particle size is also thought to be key; the smaller the particle size the easier it is for the nutrients to be absorbed through the intestinal wall, meaning the body doesn’t have to work as hard to break the nutrients down. The nutrients are therefore delivered to the body in a ‘pre-digested’ form, bypassing the digestive system and the liver, resulting in immediate release of the nutrients to the cells. It is has been said that up to 90% of nutrients in a liquid form are absorbed in the first 22 seconds (Physician’s Desk Reference, page 1542, #49) however as discussed earlier, certain nutrients may benefit from being delivered and absorbed more slowly, such as the B vitamins and vitamin C, and therefore this may be considered a disadvantage as far as specific nutrients are concerned.
One of the other main advantages of liquid formulas is that they provide a solution for those who may experience swallowing difficulties. Liquid supplements also provide flexibility regarding dosing and offer convenience. One of the main disadvantages however is that the taste will be a critical aspect for compliance and in order for supplements to be palatable, manufacturers may use artificial flavours and sweeteners and other ingredients.
Liposomes: Liposomes are specially designed delivery systems, engineered on a nano scale, to deliver targeted medication and nutrition. Whilst liposomal technology is not new to scientists, until recent years, it has mainly been used in the field of medicine where it has been shown to be a highly effective form of targeted nutrient delivery.
Liposomal technology works by encapsulating the active ingredient within a phospholipid – a type of fatty acid which protects its contents. Liposomes are artificial vestibules (chamber) which are similar in structure to the phospholipid layer that makes up cell membranes and cannot be broken down during digestion. This allows the liposome to remain intact until it reaches the bloodstream where it is then delivered to the site of cell damage for the purpose of repair.
A number of studies have been conducted in relation to the use of nutrient delivery in the form of Liposomes. One study in 2008 explored the effectiveness of liposomal-N-acetylcysteine (NAC) used in rodents with lung injuries and revealed the efficacy of NAC was much improved when delivered in a liposome form. (Mitsopoulos, 2008). A study by Janelle, 2016 showed “plasma vitamin C concentrations were greater after oral administration of vitamin C encapsulated in liposomes compared with placebo and unencapsulated vitamin C.” Furthermore, evidence suggests liposomal delivery is significantly more efficient than standard dietary supplements as dose levels can be reduced by up to 10 to 15 times (R.Milne,2004).
Despite the positive research to support the efficacy of liposomal technology, two of the main disadvantages of liposomal supplements compared to other forms of supplements on the market can be cost and availability; manufacturers of liposomal supplements will focus on the research and efficacy of the product and the overall benefit to the consumer and consequently can be more costly to produce.
Reasons to take supplements and how long it may take to work:
If you have recently started taking a nutritional supplement or you are considering taking one, you may be wondering how long it may take to work or when to expect to see health benefits. The answer to this question is not so straight forward and depends on many factors, of which we will discuss below:
One of the main factors to consider when exploring the answer to the above will be the reason you are taking the supplement in the first place and what the desired outcome is:
Correcting a nutrient deficiency
Based on current research, it usually takes 1-3 months of consistent supplementation to correct a vitamin deficiency. This is because some nutrients start to work straight away in the body whilst others have an accumulative effect. This means that in some cases results can be seen and experienced quite quickly, whereas for nutrients that require accumulation in the body, the benefits may not be noted straight away and take longer to take full effect.
The severity of a nutrient deficiency
Depending on the severity of the deficiency, it can take longer and higher doses to rectify imbalances and restore to normal levels. Generally speaking, the more severely deficient you are in a vitamin or nutrient, the faster you’ll see a difference when taking supplements.
As an insurance policy
Many people choose to take a multivitamin product, for example, as an insurance policy to ensure they are obtaining the recommended daily allowance (RDA) or NRV (Nutrient reference value) of vitamins and minerals. It should be noted that the RDA is based upon an estimation of the minimum required amount of a vitamin or mineral in order to prevent a deficiency. It is based upon an estimation for the general population and not individual requirements.
Since multivitamins contain several nutrients and are generally based around the RDA level, they generally don’t provide the same targeted benefits of an individual vitamin or mineral supplement.
Targeted therapy using therapeutic levels
Therapeutic levels of specific nutrients are often used as part of a nutritional therapy programme, to help optimise levels of nutrients in the body, and as a targeted approach. There is a growing body of research that shows therapeutic levels of specific nutrients can support a wide range of health conditions and ailments. The rate at which larger doses of nutrients will work depends on many factors including the individual’s baseline level of that particular nutrient, the form in which it is supplied to the body and whether it is water or fat soluble.
Current level or baseline of that particular nutrient
The speed at which vitamins work can vary depending on what your starting point is. For example, if the deficiency is quite severe, it may take longer and higher dosages to restore adequate or optimum levels.
On the other hand, someone whose blood levels are slightly below the normal range may need to supplement for a much shorter period of time and with a much lower dose before the deficit is rectified. However, it is thought that the more deficient you are in a particular vitamin, the more quickly you will feel some kind of change.
Other factors that may affect how long supplements take to work:
Bioavailability: certain forms of nutrients have been shown to be more easily absorbed in the body over others, making them more ‘bioavailable’. For example, Magnesium Citrate is considered to be superior to Magnesium Oxide and likewise Zinc Gluconate is more superior to Zinc Oxide in terms of how easily it is for the body to absorb these nutrients.
Water soluble vs fat soluble: All vitamins can be classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble, which refers to how they are stored in the body. The major fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K, while vitamin C and the B group vitamins (including folate) are water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins can enter the bloodstream more quickly than fat soluble vitamins and therefore results can be seen more quickly whereas fat soluble vitamins tend to have more subtle effects over time. Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed in the presence of fat and therefore are best taken with meals to optimise absorption.
Combined ingredients and Interactions of other nutrients: certain nutrients work faster and more effectively when combined with other substances that facilitate their absorption. For example in the presence of vitamin C, Iron has been shown to be more effectively absorbed. Another example is vitamin D and Calcium which rely on each other for absorption. On the other hand, certain nutrients compete for absorption resulting in less of one being absorbed, Zinc and Copper are perfect examples of this.
Wholefood vs synthetic: some experts argue that wholefood supplements, products which provide only natural ingredients from whole food sources, are more effective at being absorbed than synthetic ingredients. Synthetic supplements are chemically manufactured substances that are made in a laboratory using a mirror image of its counterpart to produce the same ingredient only in a synthetic form.
Functional ingredients and excipients: supplements often contain functional ingredients, which may assist in tablet disintegration and absorption for example. The rate at which the ingredients are broken down will also be a factor in absorption, not necessarily favourably. For example, the body will be limited as to how much of any given nutrient can be absorbed and stored at one time resulting in any excess being excreted and lost, mainly applicable to water soluble vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin C.
Other factors that may influence the time for supplements to work include:
Diet and lifestyle
The food you eat can affect how long it takes for vitamins to work: Fat intake, we know that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K require dietary fat to be absorbed. To facilitate optimal absorption of these nutrients in supplements, it is important to incorporate healthy fats such as omega-3 into the diet.
Specific diets are associated with an increased risk of certain nutrient deficiencies. A vegan diet for example carries a higher risk of B12 deficiency since B12 is primarily obtained from animal sources. Therefore, following a vegan diet can affect how long it takes for vitamins to work as the starting point may be much lower compared to someone who isn’t following a vegan diet.
Caffeine: has been shown to interfere with the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, including the minerals calcium and vitamin D. Since caffeine has a diuretic effect on the body, this can result in the excretion of important vitamins and minerals too, especially the water soluble B vitamins & vitamin C.
Medications: some medications are known to interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. This is because certain medications can increase, decrease or prevent absorption of nutrients in the gut.
Alcohol: studies show that alcohol has an inhibitory effect on the absorption of important vitamins and minerals, especially the absorption of the water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C. In addition, the body prioritises metabolising alcohol at the expense of vital nutrients.
Smoking: research shows that smoking depletes vitamin C and B vitamins and also decreases the bioavailability of nutrients such as selenium and beta carotene.
Stress: it is widely acknowledged and accepted that stress depletes vitamins and minerals, as demonstrated in scientific studies.
Excess salt/sugar: studies have shown that excess consumption of sugar in the diet can lead to depletion of nutrients from foods that have been consumed and from the body stores, leading to potential nutrient deficiencies. Studies have also shown that excessive levels of salt in the diet can lead to excretion of calcium from the bones.
Underlying health conditions:
Some health conditions can cause vitamins to be absorbed inefficiently. These include:
- Malabsorption disorders: including Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, Coeliac and Lactose intolerance.
- Obesity: according to research, obesity is associated with micronutrient deficiencies due to inadequate intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Ageing: as we age our digestive system may not necessarily be as efficient as it once was and therefore the nutrients cannot be absorbed as effectively, usually this is an issue in the elderly or those with chronic digestive illnesses where the absorption is already weak.
Whilst water soluble vitamins can start working fairly quickly due to the way they are absorbed in the body and benefits may be experienced soon after taking them, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a magic pill. It takes time to build up your levels of vitamins and nutrients, so regular supplement intake is vital.
Forgetting your daily dose of vitamins won’t cause any serious problems, but inconsistently taking vitamins will impact how well supplements work. Taking supplements consistently can help to provide a constant supply of essential nutrients for your body. Supplements should be taken daily, so that it becomes part of your routine. This will allow vitamin or nutrient levels to build up, supporting your health and wellbeing in the most impactful way.
Aguulp’s liposomal technology (broken down in simple terms) compared to other supplements
aguulp’s supplements stand out due to their liposomal technology, which encapsulates active ingredients within protective phospholipids. This innovative approach ensures efficient nutrient delivery to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system’s limitations.
The supplements are formulated with a superior nutrient technology NutriProtect, developed over a 10-year period by our partner lab, aguulp harnesses this cutting-edge technology in all of our liquid supplements. Thanks to this technology, a serving can deliver 8 times more vitamins and nutrients compared to traditional tablets, providing maximum nutrient delivery to where your body needs it the most. Not all liposomes are created equal, but you can trust ours.
Benefits of aguulp supplements:
Targeted Nutrition: Liposomal technology delivers nutrients precisely where they are needed.
Superior Nutrient Delivery: Rapid and efficient absorption compared to traditional supplements.
Fast and Efficient Absorption: Nutrients are delivered to cells almost immediately.
Liquid Form: Suitable for those with swallowing difficulties, offering flexibility in dosing and convenient usage.
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