Difficulty Swallowing Pills? An Easier Way to Take Vitamins

By Kathleen M. McCoy

Article at a Glance: 

  • Difficulty swallowing pills can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Nutrient absorption is key to getting enough vitamins and minerals from your supplements.
  • Not only can vitamin tablets and capsules be difficult to swallow, but they also aren’t the best way to absorb the vitamins you need.

If you have difficulty swallowing pills, you aren't alone. Perhaps you have a pronounced gag reflex that keeps you from swallowing pills, or you care for a young child or an elderly individual who isn't able to put the pill in their mouth and swallow with a sip of water—this isn't uncommon.

In the medical world, difficulty swallowing is called dysphagia. While this condition can occur from time-to-time when you eat too quickly, chronic cases of dysphagia may require medical intervention. (1)

Many health experts see nutritional deficiencies skyrocketing due to poor nutrition and poor nutrient absorption, leading to physicians and natural health practitioners recommending vitamin and mineral supplements. An inability to swallow pills can lead to health problems including nutritional deficiencies, so it is essential to address the problem head-on to avoid complications.

Even if your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil, you may still need to boost any deficits with a high-quality supplement. If you have a gastrointestinal disorder or disease, poor nutrient absorption is common, and you may need to learn how to absorb vitamins better without swallowing pills.

Do You Have Difficulty Swallowing Pills?

For some individuals, taking a pill with a swallow of water isn’t enough to get it down. It takes just one time that a large tablet or capsule gets stuck sideways after you’ve swallowed to develop a fear of swallowing pills. This is especially true for young children and individuals diagnosed with dysphagia.

Symptoms of dysphagia include: (2)

  • Food and liquid coming out through the nose after attempting to swallow
  • Failure to move food from the mouth into the throat
  • A sensation of choking
  • Food or pills getting stuck in the neck or chest, creating pressure
  • Regurgitation or reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Gagging when swallowing

Certain groups are more prone to swallowing problems including:

  • Young children
  • Seniors with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke survivors
  • Pregnant women
  • People with scarring of the esophagus due to acid reflux disease

If you or someone you care for has difficulty swallowing pills and foods, it is crucial to learn the signs of vitamin deficiencies. Treating dysphagia generally requires changing the consistency of foods as well as changing medications and supplements into a soft or liquid form. As the list above shows, not all individuals who can’t swallow pills will be able to learn how to swallow pills easier, so it is vital to find a suitable replacement to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need daily.

An Easier Way to Take Your Vitamins

The Standard American Diet, or SAD, is leaving many children, pregnant women, adults, and seniors with nutritional deficiencies. (3) These deficiencies are often compounded when you have difficulty swallowing pills or poor vitamin absorption. For example, pregnant women often experience indigestion with timed-release pills and folic acid supplements due to the changing chemistry in their guts.

For pregnant women and others who have trouble swallowing pills, there are easier ways to take your vitamins and minerals. Over the last several years, a variety of manufacturers have developed alternative format supplements in liquid form, powders, and candy-like, sugar-filled gummies. At Healthycell, we use advanced MICROGEL™️ technology that delivers easily-absorbed nutrients virtually anyone can swallow in a great-tasting gel pack.

What Is the Bioavailability of Vitamins?

The term “bioavailability of vitamins” refers to how the body absorbs the nutrients from foods and supplements. In medical terms, bioavailability is defined as “the proportion of a nutrient capable of being absorbed and available for use or storage.” (4)

Often, the quality of nutrient absorption relies on other factors. For example, fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K are better absorbed when consumed with protein (5) or oil. Another example is the phytochemical curcumin from turmeric. In order for this anti-inflammatory to be bioavailable in the body, it must be partnered with black pepper. 

The bioavailability of vitamins including vitamin B12 and vitamin C can also be affected by: (6)

  • Age of the person’s GI tract
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Tapeworm infections
  • Use of antacids and the diabetes medication
  • Repeated exposure to laughing gas
  • Decreased stomach acidity
  • Malabsorption disorders including celiac disease
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Poor immune system and AIDS

To combat difficulty swallowing pills, bioavailability challenges, and nutrient absorption problems, it is vital to select a supplement formulated without harsh chemicals that may affect absorption rates, in a form (like a gel) that quickly reaches the bloodstream without requiring breakdown in the gut. MICROGEL™️ is easy to consume and comes packaged in an appropriate daily dose that you can enjoy straight from the package, or add to water, or even a smoothie.

The Importance of Nutrient Absorption

The human body can’t survive, let alone thrive, without 13 essential vitamins including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins. These vitamins are essential for wellness, and research shows optimal levels in our system may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and other chronic conditions. (7)

When our bodies don’t absorb enough of these essential vitamins through foods or supplements, deficiencies occur. The Mayo Clinic notes that vitamin deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of healthy red blood cells that can trigger nervous system disorders and complications in pregnancy. Recognized symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include: (8)

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Mental confusion
  • Poor memory
  • Personality changes

The top four most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States are: (9)

Vitamin D: Essential for bone health and muscle strength, as well as protecting against type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Vitamin B12: Required for making red blood cells and DNA and a deficiency may cause poor concentration, memory loss, and fatigue.

Vitamin B6: Necessary for over 100 enzyme reactions including protein metabolism, cognitive development, and immune function and it may help protect against certain types of cancer, heart disease, PMS, nausea during pregnancy, and cognitive decline. (10)

Vitamin C: Required for the synthesis of collagen, protein metabolism, wound healing, protecting against free radicals, and supporting a healthy immune system. (11)

A Healthier Vitamin Alternative to Pills, Gummies, Liquids, and Powders

Bioactive Multi

Bioactive Multi is a multivitamin delivered through  MICROGEL™️ — a plant-based, easy-to-digest gel that goes down easily, especially for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. The wide spectrum of vitamins contained in Bioactive Multi is suspended in a prebiotic-based gel for maximum absorption. The gel protects the nutrients from stomach acid, preserving them until they are released in the small intestine. The nutrients themselves are micro-sized particles that offer effective and rapid absorption in the digestive tract. 

Key Takeaways

  • Trouble swallowing pills or pill fatigue is a relatively common condition experienced by children, pregnant women, adults, and seniors.
  • Individuals who can’t swallow pills, including vitamins and minerals, may develop nutritional deficiencies even when eating a healthy diet.
  • Tablets, powders, gummies, and capsules often contain synthetic ingredients, fillers, sugars (or artificial sweeteners), and anti-caking agents that can affect the bioavailability of the nutrients.
  • Common supplements often contain large difficult-to-absorb nutrient particles, reducing the bioavailability of the nutrients.
  • The bioavailability of vitamins can be affected by certain malabsorption disorders including SIBO, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease as well as inadequate stomach acid, an impaired immune system, tapeworm infections, and more.
  • Poor nutrient absorption and difficulty swallowing pills can be combatted by replacing capsules and tablets with Healthycell’s plant-based MICROGEL™️, a pill-free solution to get the nutrients you need. 

SOURCES:

1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dysphagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20372028

2. https://patients.gi.org/topics/dysphagia/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139124

4. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/131/4/1349S/4686865

5. https://doi.org/10.1111/tra.12231

6. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders-of-nutrition/vitamins/vitamin-b12

7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-vitamin-supplements-improve-health/

8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitamin-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355025

9. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/4page_%202nd%20nutrition%20report_508_032912.pdf

10. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb6-healthprofessional/

11. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/