Liquid Love? The Pro’s and Con’s of Liquid Multivitamins for Adults

By Jamie Fletcher

Does your daily vitamin regimen have your medicine cabinet or kitchen counter looking a bit like a pharmacy? As we continue to learn more about the dangers of micronutrient deficiencies, it’s no surprise that Americans find themselves collecting supplements like it’s our job. [1] However, for many, it’s easier to purchase a vitamin pill than it is to actually take one. As we unveil the disturbing trends in production that have led to less nutrient-dense foods, vitamin supplementation has become necessary to meet our micronutrient minimums to stay healthy. Even the most conscious of eaters have had to swallow their pride along with their vitamin pills as we face the hard fact that food alone just won’t cut it anymore if we want to meet out nutritional needs.

While we may have accepted dietary supplementation as a necessary part of our wellness routine, that doesn’t mean we’ve grown to enjoy it. Frankly, pill-popping of any sort is an unpleasant practice most of us would like to avoid, so when you consider the sheer volume of pills many of us take regularly, it’s no wonder that many have sought alternatives.

Of these pill substitutes, liquid vitamins lead the pack as a superior form of supplementation. It’s no question that a liquid multivitamin goes down smoothly when compared to a bulky pill or tablet, but are liquid vitamins truly the best method for taking your multi?

If you’re ready to put away the pills but still aren’t entirely sure if liquid multivitamins are the way to go, read on as we dive in to the pros and cons of fluid supplements. Is it all love for liquids or a complete loss? And beyond pills and liquids, is there another option? We’re about to find out!

For the Love of Liquid: Pro’s Of Liquid Vitamins

Better Bioavailability & Absorption

When we break down the benefits of a liquid vitamin, a biological bonus is that there isn’t any break down involved. With a pill vitamin, your body first has to break apart the capsule or tablet to get to the micronutrients housed inside. In most cases, this extra step not only decreases the efficiency of vitamin absorption but it also limits the nutritional bioavailability, which is not ideal for supplementation intended to boost our health.

When you swallow a pill vitamin, your body enters a race against time to break down the external casing of capsules, or the hard glue “bricks” of tablet, so it can access those micronutrients inside. If the pill isn’t broken down quickly enough, then there's a chance those nutrients will pass right through the digestive tract without a trace (or trace mineral) being absorbed. With a sluggish breakdown, the majority of nutrients will be excreted, meaning that essentially, you’ve flushed those nutrients down the drain, literally.

Recently, several reports found that many multivitamins fail to fully dissolve within the allocated time frame set forth by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, meaning that consumers were not receiving the health benefits their multivitamin promised.[2] As awareness continues to grow regarding the problem with pill form vitamins, several other studies have examined the capsule conundrum. An investigation conducted out of Canada also found that the majority of tablets and a large percentage of capsules did not meet the Canadian time standards for adequate disintegration, once again highlighting the limited bioavailability of multivitamin pills.[3]

As our foods become more nutrient void, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to soak in as many vitamins and minerals as possible through alternative sources. With improved bioavailability and absorption, liquids appear to be a smart solution for effective multivitamin supplementation.

A Shorter Shelf Life

No, we didn’t accidentally place a liquid vitamin “con” on our pill-free “pro” list. While a multivitamin pill has a longer shelf life than a liquid vitamin, this longevity comes at a price. We’re sure you wouldn’t like to think of your multivitamin as a science experiment, but unfortunately, that’s what supplement pills have become to stay shelf-stable. The concoction that goes into keeping pills counter-top safe involves a questionable combination of fillers, stabilizers, and bonding agents so that your pill capsule can essentially double as a time capsule. So what are some of these unpleasant additives?

  • Hydrogenated Oils-This popular additive is at the top of the ingredient list for many unhealthy food items that tout a dangerous amount of trans fats, which form during the hydrogenating process.[4,5] While these chemicals can increase the shelf life of pill vitamins, they come with a hefty price. Some side effects include an increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol, a decrease in HDL “good” cholesterol, and increased inflammation. [6]We’re guessing these were not the effects you were looking for when you picked out your multivitamin pill.

  • Boric acid- It’s hard to believe that a pesticide could sneak its way into various your supplements, but it has.[7] Thanks to its microbial killing effects, this ingredient can lengthen the shelf life of a pill vitamin ten-fold. But shelf life should not outweigh human life when you consider the side effects, which include DNA damage, infertility, and birth defects.[8]

  • Sodium Benzoate-Another ingredient that’s present in many processed foods and drinks. [9] This ingredient promises long-lasting freshness in exchange for some serious health consequences. Sodium benzoate has been linked to DNA damage, liver cell damage, hyperactivity, and several types of cancer, a fact that has us pondering its place in our pill vitamins, or really any consumable product. [10]

After shining the spotlight on these shelf-stabilizing “secret ingredients”, the cost to benefit ratio for taking a pill multivitamin is just not equating to favor tablets or capsules. However, if you’re still swayed by the financial benefits that come with a pill supplement that won’t have to be replaced as frequently as a liquid form, you may want to consider the logic behind that stance. More often than not, many people unknowingly continue to take pill vitamins long past their expiration date. This means that you’re consuming vitamins that are no longer effective, or worse yet, are potentially harmful if they haven't been stored properly. With that in mind, it may be worthwhile to go with an additive-free liquid vitamin from the start, which provides more tell-tale signs once it's expired.

Simple to Swallow

Regardless of how you choose to choke them down, swallowing large, chalky pills is just not a pleasant process. [11] Pill aversion stems from many different sources, including a potentially serious medical condition known as dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. [12]This population is often most at risk for nutrient deficiencies, meaning that supplementation isn’t a choice but a necessity.[13] Access to liquid vitamins is imperative for those suffering from dysphagia when traditional food intake is simply not possible.

Those with medically-induced pill aversion are not the only population that has difficulty swallowing hard capsules and tablets: pill-phobia is an all too common psychological condition that prevents many from sticking with a supplementation schedule that involves a pill. For many, pill anxiety is a mental block that can lead to real physical effects like dry mouth and constricted throat muscles which increase the risk of choking. Fortunately, liquid vitamins provide a solution to the pandemic of pill-paranoia that plagues a large portion of the population.

Superior Synergism

When talking about the synergistic properties of liquid vitamins, the phrase “better together” comes to mind. With a liquid formula, you can pack in more powerful doses of micronutrients that work cohesively to amplify the health-boosting benefits. When taken together in higher doses, these vitamins increase the net effect of the other, resulting in a more effective multivitamin.

Liquid vitamins are able to achieve levels of nutrient density that are not achievable with capsules or tablets. The increased potency of liquid supplements is two-fold: liquid vitamins allow for an increased concentration of each micronutrient, which is then intensified through precise combinations that produce a stronger end product. With a liquid vitamin, the effect of each nutrient is bigger and better, together.

Liquid Loses: The Cons of Liquid Vitamins

Difficulty Dosing

We’ve all heard that too much of a good thing is never a good thing. In the case of liquid vitamins, this saying holds particular bearing since the overconsumption of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to some serious health consequences. [14] When taken inappropriately, the over intake of certain micronutrients can be toxic to the human body. Some potential side effects of micronutrient overdose?

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Immunosuppression

  • Brittle hair and nails

  • Peripheral neuropathies

  • Gastrointestinal upset

Long term blood toxicity of certain vitamins and minerals can have serious medical repercussions, like an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. [15,16,17,18]As research continues to examine vitamin overdose, it's clear that caution must be exercised.

Unfortunately, with liquid vitamins, it's extremely easy to take in more micronutrients than our body can handle. Since liquids are left in the hands of the consumer to dole out the dosage, inaccurate measuring is nearly unavoidable. Over time, a heavy hand with a liquid multivitamin will result in a waste of money, since you’ll excrete excess nutrients (we call this “financial flushing”), or worse, some serious health complications.

Reduced Vitamin Activity

While a pill does add an extra step in our body’s digestion and absorption process, the outer casing sometimes helps to protect and maintain certain vitamins and minerals inside. When exposed to certain conditions, these micronutrients will begin to degrade, thereby reducing the quality and bioactivity. One example of this is vitamin C, which begins to break down as soon as its been exposed to air. As soon as you’ve opened the seal of your liquid supplement, vitamin C and other micronutrients will immediately begin to lose their potency, leaving you to swallow down a subpar supplement.

External conditions are not the only limiting factor that can impair the bioactivity level of a liquid supplement. Without the protective layer of a tablet or capsule, the micronutrients are subject to the high pH levels of your stomach acid and can be broken down completely before ever reaching the small intestine where proper absorption can occur. When you take a multivitamin as a pill, the outside form functions as a safeguard so that the nutrients make it to the small intestine, where most nutrient absorption takes place. [19]While not all benefit is lost when taking a liquid multivitamin, the capsule or tablet provides a“safety net” to ensure that your body receives a more active and effective version of the vitamins and minerals. But as we just reviewed, if your body can’t break down the pill enough, it’s useless anyway – there is a narrow middle ground between disintegration that’s too fast and disintegration that’s too slow.

Bad Taste & Worse Smell

Let’s address the elephant in the liquid multivitamin: often, it tastes pretty terrible. And the smell? That’s even worse.

It doesn’t matter if your liquid vitamin is sourced from the fountain of youth, if the taste and smell are too awful to bear, then you’re not going to take it. And we don’t blame you! We’ve sampled our fair share of these pungent supplements and have found that more often than not, they taste bitter, medicinal,  and often leave a lingering after-taste that sits on your tongue long after you’ve shot back your supplement.

We know that taste and smell are subjective factors that may hold little weight when picking out your vitamin. But when it comes to liquids, these supplements taste a bit like drinking the milk from a cereal bowl full of multivitamins. So if the sound of Honey Bunches of B-12 or Frosted Folate doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps a liquid vitamin is not the way to go.

Sticky Supplement Situation

Yes, pills can certainly be hard to swallow. However, a liquid is impossible to swallow if it’s been spilled down your shirt or tipped over on your counter top. The added hassle that can come with a liquid multivitamin may have you asking, “is swallowing a chalky pill so bad after all?”

With the addition of artificial colors and flavors that are intended to mask a poor taste, an accidental spill of a liquid vitamins can lead to a very sticky situation. What's more, if you try to take a liquid vitamin with you on the go, you might consider keeping a spare shirt handy just in case you become the unfortunate victim of a spill that’s sure to leave a stain. It’s always a bit awkward when you have to explain a supplement-related shirt smudge as soon as you’ve walked into a work meeting.

Not only are liquid vitamins a headache to take on the go, but they’re not realistic for most travel plans. Considering the liquid limitations for carry-on items and the restrictive conditions of our checked luggage are subject, you’ll likely have to leave your multivitamin behind for your plane propelled travel plans. So while we’re not sure that anyone has ever claimed “there’s no use in crying over spilled liquid vitamins”, we’re guessing they would if they’ve ever had to unzip a suitcase full of a spilled sticky supplement.

Problems with Pills, Feeling Lackluster About Liquids, So What Do I Take?

Now that we’ve taken a good hard look at liquid multivitamins, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks, you may be asking yourself, “how should I supplement?”. Luckily, there is a better way to increase your vitamin intake that doesn’t involve a liquid or a pill.

Microgels, a more recent player in the multivitamin game, are a new and innovative form of multivitamin that allow for the highest levels of nutrient absorption and bioavailability when compared to any other supplement formats.

The controlled-release properties of a microgel provide systematic dissemination of micronutrients as it passes through the GI tract, releasing vitamin-packed microparticles at specific stages of digestion. By delivering small batches of these particles, the body is better equipped to take in a greater overall percentage of nutrients. The result is a highly effective and powerful multivitamin that traverses the hurdles that come with pills or liquid supplements.

Bioactive Multi by Healthycell is a leader in the microgel multivitamin category and has engineered a product that addresses the concerns for consumers who’ve had decide if it’s liquid love or a liquid loss when selecting a supplement. With an extensive list of essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants in a convenient on-the-go ready packet, Bioactive Multi provides the perfect health pick me up for any time and anywhere. That means you can finally retire your “back-up” shirt that you’ve tucked away in case of a liquid vitamin spill (although, we understand if you’d like to keep it handy for the equally frustrating scenario, the coffee spill catastrophe that always seems to occur mid-commute).

Finally, let’s not forget the taste. Unlike liquid multivitamins, Bioactive Multi comes with a fruity mixed berry flavor that's as pleasant to consume as it is easy.

Thanks to the gel format, Bioactive is an easy addition to many of your favorite meals, including smoothies, oatmeal, yogurts, and more. So whether or not you’d like to grab your vitamin as you run out the door or include it in foods to supercharge your snacks, the choice is yours.

While most supplements contain synthetic binding glues, fillers, coatings and anti-caking agents, Bioactive Multi is a more natural approach, 100% free of these “other ingredients.” The ingredients that make up the gel are healthy plant-derived prebiotics for extra healthy gut boost!

If you’re looking for a more powerful, packable, and palatable multivitamin, then it’s time to lose the liquids and pink-slip the pills in favor of a microgel. With Bioactive Multi by Healthycell, there isn’t a tradeoff between function and form like there is with other supplements. Rather, the function is in the form, giving your body the highest levels of nutrients, without the hassle.


References:

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[8] Abuse of Boric Acid and Borax in Foods. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_131_01.html

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[13] Crary M, Sura L, Madhavan A, Carnaby-Mann G. Dysphagia in the elderly: management and nutritional considerations CIA. 2012;

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