Vitamin absorption is a CRUCIAL aspect to consider when evaluating supplements. Absorption, known technically as bioavailability, can and does vary significantly from supplement to supplement. Please keep that in mind if you are a consumer who buys according to price.
These days the term “vitamin absorption” is commonly used to refer to not only absorption
of vitamins but of other nutrients/ingredients as well. So, I have used it in this sense in the discussion below.
If you haven’t already read bioavailability of nutritional supplements I recommend that you read it now so that today’s article makes more sense.
Enteric coating is essential for high quality supplements containing expensive and highly efficious ingredients like L-Glutathione, enzymes, SAMe and herbal extracts. This special aqueous based coating offers an optimal delivery system ensuring higher levels of vitamin absorption.
Although enteric coating is a common technology employed with expensive pharmaceutical medications, it is rarely seen in the nutritional supplement industry!
That’s because most supplements are manufactured to a price rather than from a ‘best science’ perspective. Pharmaceuticals always work because they must be based on ‘best science’ since FDA regulations require proof that they work.
For those of you having already read through much of this site, you will know that I personally use a broad spectrum multi nutrient supplement which is enteric coated. The manufacturer (Xtend-Life) has tested it and claim over 80% absorption of the 83 ingredients. An extremely high level for a nutritional or dietary supplement.
Some experts believe that (in non enteric coated products) the bioavailability of vitamins (i.e. all the contents) is only 10-15% due to damage from gastric juices and enzymes in the stomach. This is a gray area however as there is little conclusive research available dealing with absorption rates since so many individual factors come into play from person to person.
How does it work?
The following facts come primarily from the Xtend-Life website (with permission). Locating other (supplement related) information on this topic has proven near impossible.
Colorcon – a world leader in the manufacturer of advanced coating systems for pharmaceutical dosage forms provided a small amount of supporting data.
Enteric coating is made up of cellulose polymers which are non-reactive and are not absorbed by the body nor affect it in any way. These polymers are pH sensitive meaning they will not react to the more acidic ph levels in the stomach but will react and disintegrate in the alkaline environment in the small intestine.
The small intestine (duodenum) is where most nutrients, from the food we eat, travel to be absorbed into the bloodstream. So releasing supplement contents in the intestine is highly desirable from a bioavailability standpoint.
How can manufacturers be sure that enteric coating does what it’s supposed to? By using tests which involve placing sample tablets in fluids simulating gastric juices and the pH environment of the small intestine.
Xtend-Life performs these tests on each batch of tablets they manufacture. They report the following typical test results:
Now, manufacturers of non enteric coated supplements will always point out that some vitamins and other nutrients actually need stomach acids to become bioavailable. This is true. However by including certain additional enzymes in enteric coated tablets these nutrients will become bioavailable when released in the intestine.
NOTE: Low quality, mass produced tablets full of excessive amounts of cheap binding agents may only partially disintegrate (or not at all), passing through the stomach and intestine almost intact with little vitamin absorption.
The state of the art nutritional health supplement I use along with my whole family (and many of my friends) is called Total Balance.
It is enteric coated because it contains 84 ingredients many of which are expensive key ingredients susceptible to destruction by stomach acid.
The vitamin absorption rate for Total Balance is extremely high - that's one of the main reasons it works so well.
To learn more about Total Balance please follow this link.
To see how Total Balance dominates the other industry leading supplements please visit my best vitamin supplements comparisons.