Expert Nutrition

Liquid vs Tablet Supplements?

What does the science say when comparing Liquid vs Tablet supplements?

Many liquid supplement manufacturers claim that because their product is in a liquid form that it is more bioavailable. In response to these claims it is important to understand that most nutrients are absorbed by the small intestine, unless they are taken sublingually (under the tongue) or injected. When you ingest a supplement in either a liquid or tablet form, it must first go through the stomach before it is then absorbed by the small intestine. If liquids were simply absorbed directly in to the bloodstream, as some supplement companies claim, would the same happen when you ate soup? Although the idea that liquid supplements would be absorbed quicker as the body doesn’t need to break them down sounds good in principle, reality is, the body doesn’t work that way.

Unlike most medicines, vitamins don’t need to be absorbed into the body quickly, therefore the effectiveness and stability of the vitamin are probably more important factors to consider when debating liquid vs tablet supplements.

A well-made tablet provides a very effective delivery system and is the chosen form of most pharmaceutical medications. This is because tablets have been shown to be a very efficient delivery system for medications. Why would vitamin and mineral supplements be any different? Does anybody doubt that an aspirin tablet is less effective because it comes in a tablet? Tableted products provide the advantage of an increased amount of active ingredient (almost 3 times as much as a capsule and much more than a liquid or spray) and in general, the stability of tablets is also superior to liquids.

Although we have heard that there was once a statement in the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) that suggested that a particular liquid supplement was more bioavailable in the liquid form, we believe that this has since been removed because it could not be substantiated. In recent editions of the PDR there have been no such claims. Given the stability and safety we personally recommend tablets.

1.Thomson Medical. Physician's Desk Reference 59th Edition. Thomson PDR, 2005.

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