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What are Liposomal Supplements?

October 2016

In order to understand liposomal supplements, you first need to understand what a phospholipid is, because a liposome is made up of phospholipids.

A phospholipid is defined as a specific class of lipid, which includes fats, waxes, sterols and fat soluble vitamins, that has two specific parts: It has a round head that is hydrophilic, meaning ‘water loving’, and it has a tail which is hydrophobic meaning ‘water fearing’.

This makes it unique in that the head turns towards water and the tail tries to get away from water.

As mentioned earlier, a liposome is a made up of a large amount of phospholipids which arrange themselves into a spherical nature when introduced in water. They will attract to and surround many different nutrients forming a phospholipid layer around the nutrient itself. See figure below.

Due to the size and stability of the phospholipids used they are able to successfully travel through the digestive system without getting degraded by enzymes, carrying the nutrient through the intestinal membrane.

Although research has not clearly shown how the nutrients in a liposome are actually released, there are a couple of theories. One theory suggests that the phospholipids are processed in the liver as fats and that this process releases the nutrient. Another theory proposes that cells all over the body, hungry for phospholipid materials to repair cell membranes and other cellular structures, "steal" these materials from the liposome allowing their contents to leak out.

Either way, the liposome covering allows the nutrient to pass through the intestinal membrane intact making the nutrient more bioavailable to the body.

It used to be that this delivery technology was only used in the pharmaceutical industry to deliver drugs more effectively. In recent years some supplement manufacturers have utilized this unique technology to make nutrients such as vitamin C, CoQ-10 and glutathione more bioavailable to our body.

Brenda Valen, BS, CNC, CNHP

Gulf Coast Nutrition