Liposomal Vitamin-C and Bioavalability
by marco dydo
Greetings My Dear Individual, Gentle Snowflakes! ☺
Okay, So I’ve been asked to chime-in regarding Liposomal Vitamin-C and Bioavailability. It’s 3:00 a.m. and I’m very busy in the lab these days so I’ll keep this short. (Yeah … Right!) ☺
In a recent group of messages, many terms were bandied about without definition or full explanation. So, NEW RULE … use a “Big Marketing Word” you better explain it COMPLETELY … or don’t use it!
Okay, now … Liposomes (in the simplest incarnation) are composite structures made of Phospholipids (a major fat component of cell membranes) in a lipid bilayer vesicle where the Phospholipid head is Hydrophilic (water loving) and the tail is Hydrophobic (water hating). So, think of a wall made up of two layers. These two layers are connected where the tails are on the inside or the interior of the wall touching “tail to tail”. The heads are on the outside aspect of the wall looking out. Now, think of this wall as a sphere, which creates a void or hole (think “Jelly Doughnut” where, the Doughnut is the Liposomal-Phospholipid “wall” and the Jelly is the compound to be delivered). The “Jelly” may contain small amounts of molecules/compounds ... like Vitamin C, for instance!
Another way to consider this is to think of a basketball. The skin and the air-filled core make up the entire ball or Liposome. Now, see its “skin” as two layers of molecules sandwiched together and the part you touch (as you bounce it) and the part that touches the compressed air inside the ball, and the rubber in between those two “skins”, make up the Liposomal Phospholipid Bilayer Membrane. Now, both of these “skins” love water (Hydrophilic), the heads. The rubber material in-between the outside and inside of the “ball skin” is the water hating (Hydrophobic) tails and all together creating a barrier that keeps the “air inside the ball”! The compound to be delivered … it this case … compressed air … from the top of the key … “Swish” nothing but net! (Hey, don’t step on my dreams!) … is delivered, safe and sound, inside the ball. ☺
So, weather you like the Jelly Doughnut or Basketball analogy, this is the basic picture of the “Unilamellar Liposome Vesicle” (ULV) with only one bilayer. There are others, but beyond the scope of this paper … (you’re welcome!)
Okay, so why is this so important?
Well, we just learned that a Liposome has a Phospholipid Bilayer Membrane and a core. Inside this core is a water or aqueous solution surrounded by the Hydrophobic (water hating) membrane, in the form of a Lipid Bilayer. Now, for our discussion, Hydrophilic (water loving) solutes … like Vitamin-C … are dissolved into this watery-core. The Vitamin-C cannot readily pass through the bilayer membrane so, it’s “along for the ride” as either a Jelly Doughnut or Basketball! So, off they go, ball and air or doughnut and jelly together on the long journey to their ultimate target destination.
So, where the Liposome finally winds up is dependent on many variables but its prime goal is to deliver, in this case, the Vitamin-C molecules to a “site of action” or Target. Now remember that cell membranes are also Lipid Bilayers so the Cell Wall and the Liposome “fuse” together allowing the contents to be permeated, fused or diffused into the cell proper. The Liposomal paradigm is a much more efficient delivery method of molecules and compounds, like Vitamin-C, as opposed to simply ingesting this substance and allowing it to be directly absorbed in the Gastrointestinal Tract.
When you consider that Liposomes can be “loaded” with a number of Hydrophobic and/or Hydrophilic molecules, alone or combined, this is a very efficient means to deliver molecules and compounds. So, by creating an easier way of delivery into the cell, it is generally considered, that the Liposome enhances Bioavailability (transporting “stuff” to, and making it available in greater abundance for, the interior of the cell). However, it is not a magic delivery projectile and its efficiency is typically distributed non-homogeneously … it’s an “up or down” and “hit or miss” proposition!
Bioavailability is a long story. Think War and Peace or the Harry Potter series or The Lord of the Rings and you will start to get the idea. Now, the formation of Liposomal Vesicles is like one character in any of those stories (pick your favorite). And, as enormous the story of bioavailability might be in regard to actual effectiveness of any compound it, in turn, it is a tiny piece of an even larger “metabolic story”! Think of the singular story of War and Peace compared to the entirety of tomes and volumes contained within the Library of Congress. Therefore, when companies start throwing around the term of Bioavailability like it’s the seats, the tires, the wheel, the gas and the keys, well … like it’s the entire car! It’s not! When you hear marketing terminology that attempts to use one mechanism as the “Silver Bullet of Absolute Delivery” … see this as a red flag!
As for the “Vitamin-C” part of the discussion … well, weather liposomal or not, all Vitamins are most definitely NOT created equal … not even close. As for the new “marketing promoted” and “wallet empting” term of Liposomal-C … well, I’ve looked at a number of these products and the vast majority are, well … crap in … crap out! When you start with isolated substandard compounds and then use science like it’s a magic wand and presto-change-o … it’s just like a bad magic trick that you should see coming from a mile away. The only Liposomal-C that passes my standard for complete phytonutrient profile and enhanced delivery is what I make in my lab for my ongoing research. Now, that’s not to say that I’ve tested every single product on the market and perhaps there is one that may pass scrutiny however, I haven’t found one yet.
For most of you, supplements should be taken “supplementally”! If you are eating the right food, prepared correctly, you should be able to attain the vast majority of the requisite nutrients from your food. If you do require supplements, you should do that under some sort of supervision and oversight by a qualified individual. Getting advice on the Internet from people who have no more “real technical knowledge” than the average person is irresponsible, dangerous and criminal. This is definitely not an opportunity to try your hand at DIY … If you really want to roll up your sleeves and “get busy” go build a bird house instead! The birds will appreciate it and you’ll be a lot healthier in the long run!
As always …
Don’t forget to breathe! ☺