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May 30, 2021 10 min read

While all nutrients are important for a properly functioning body—whether it’s micronutrients or macro—there are some compounds that go that extra mile in helping out the human body.

Vitamin C is one of these dietary supplements. Being able to impart tons of benefits with supplementation, vitamin C is crucial for everyone’s wellness.

But what if we said that there was a way to improve this already amazing micronutrient?

Through the use of liposomes that increase vitamin C’s bioavailability, this vitamin is brought to new heights—allowing you to reap even more benefits.

But first, let’s take a look at what exactly makes vitamin C and liposomes special as they are.

Foods High in vitamin C on a wooden board.

What is Vitamin C?

Also called ascorbic acid, traditional vitamin C is one of the over 50 essential nutrients that everyone should consume every day to optimize their wellbeing. It’s considered one of the most important and safest nutrients that everyone should take every day.

Unlike certain other micronutrients, vitamin C is water-soluble. This means that it’s not found in any fatty tissues in the body, but rather in areas that are watery. For example, the bloodstream, inside of cells, and between cells. One important thing to keep in mind is that parts of cell membranes are fatty—but we’ll get to this down below.

One interesting fact is that humans are one of the few species that cannot synthesize vitamin C on their own, but vitamin C synthesis may have been a part of our past.

Joining us in the “no vitamin C club” are some other primate species, most bats, guinea pigs, and capybaras. Other animals are able to produce quite a lot, making it unnecessary for them to take it in from their diet.

Health Benefits of Vitamin C Supplementation

Vitamin C is an amazing nutrient that’s necessary for a wide variety of bodily processes—much more than just being able to fight off scurvy. It’s found primarily in citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes, peppers, strawberries, black currants, and brussels sprouts, along with many other fruits and vegetables.

And its list of benefits is nearly as long as the list of foods that contain it. Vitamin C helps to:

  • Produce energy
  • Maintain bone, teeth, and gum health
  • Heal wounds
  • Metabolize proteins and fats
  • Support your immune system
  • Improve skin health by making it more supple and clear
  • Acts as antioxidant, reducing chances of chronic diseases
  • Forms connective tissue

For a nutrient that’s so essential for so many different things, it’s crucial that we get enough of it from our diets and through supplements. However, even if we do consume enough of it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to go where it needs to in order to be effective.

The Liposomal Delivery System

A liposome is an extremely small sphere that is made up of a phospholipid “skin”—a type of fatty layer that is very similar to the membrane of one of your cells.

In fact, the membranes are so similar that they’ve even been studied as models of cells. The technology of encapsulating a nutrient within a liposomal layer has even been used since the 1960s as a way to deliver vaccines and various gene therapies.

They’re synthetically created from cholesterol in such a way that helps to deliver the “payload” that’s inside of the liposome directly into the cell. When you consider nutrients that are only water-soluble (aka, vitamin C), then it can have a difficult time getting through the fatty layer of cells. However, placing it inside a “trojan horse” of sorts allows it to go where it’s needed most—right into the cells.

An added benefit of liposomes is that they also prevent the payload from either being oxidized or digested before it can be delivered to the cells. In a lot of cases, this is even better than intravenous delivery of medication and nutrients, making this an extremely potent way to get your supplements.

But how does this all come together and why exactly are liposomes combined with vitamin C and other nutrients? The answer is bioavailability.

The Benefit of Absorption Rate

We know that liposomes help to deliver nutrients directly into cells, but the difference is actually extremely big. Vitamin C especially is unique in that smaller amounts are more easily absorbed by the body.

For example, while 100 mg of vitamin C might allow you to absorb a couple of milligrams shy of that amount, a 2000 mg dose will only be about half absorbed by your body. This is known as the fractional absorption principle: the more you take in, the more isn’t absorbed.

The reason for this is that vitamin C only gets through the wall of your intestines using special transporters, and there’s a limited number of them available. Once vitamin C moves through your gut, it just comes out the other end without giving you any use.

And even when vitamin C does get into your bloodstream, the majority of it isn’t actually taken up by your cells. Most of it passes through, and while it still imparts benefits on some aspects of your body, it doesn’t find itself into your cells very often.

Wrapping the vitamin C in a coat of fat makes it significantly easier to be taken up by your lymphatic system, and it’s even been shown that it aids the entrance into individual cells. For a nutrient like vitamin C that has a difficult time getting to where it’s most needed, liposomes offer a massive benefit.

What Bioavailability Means for Your Body

Through the encapsulation of vitamin C with fat, it can be both passively transported through your gut wall and then more easily taken up by individual cells. This means that the nutrients becomes more available for your body, boosting several benefits.

For example, this easier absorption has important effects on your lymphatic system (the white blood cells, for example). Because they’re more bioavailable to the cells that fight diseases and help you heal, your immune system will stand to greatly benefit from liposomal vitamin C intake.

These benefits spread to all of the tissue, cells, and organs that come into contact with vitamin C that’s been encased in liposomes.

Liposomes and Phospholipids

And while liposomes boost the benefits of vitamin C, they also come with their own benefits as well. Liposomes are made up of a compound called phospholipid, which contains a lot of phosphatidyl-choline.

This phosphatidylcholine is one of the integral building parts of all cell structures and cell membranes. Part of the reason why liposomes are able to easily enter cell membranes is due to this compound.

Phosphatidyl-choline is considered an essential fat, meaning that you have to take it in through your diet since your body isn’t able to produce it on its own (much like vitamin C). But as a key part of cell structures, this fat plays a crucial role in your body.

So, not only do you get the benefits of vitamin C becoming more bioavailable to your body, but you’re also going to get the benefits of supplementing with liposomes and the choline that they provide.

Most people don’t ingest enough choline in their regular diet, so this is an important part of any liposomal vitamin C supplement. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this useful supplement.

Mitigating Oxidative Stress

As we age, more and more free radicals enter our bodies. These free radicals mostly come from chemicals and pollutants in the air, and as we grow old and age, they can lead to serious health conditions along with aging prematurely.

Vitamin C is one of the most common and useful antioxidants that our bodies use, and therefore, increasing its bioavailability is sure to lead to even greater benefits in this area.

Helping Against Cancer

Vitamin C taken intravenously is often prescribed for chemotherapy patients, to be taken in tandem to fight off cancer. While it doesn’t necessarily fight off cancer on its own, it’s very helpful in increasing energy levels in patients.

There have been some cases where high vitamin C intake was linked to cancer regression, but it’s important to keep in mind that these were isolated cases. Intravenous vitamin C—while helpful—shouldn’t take the place of chemotherapy when fighting cancer.

Many cancer patients who do take intravenous vitamin C also supplement with liposomal vitamin C between their treatments. This helps to prevent blood levels from dropping after receiving IV vitamin C. And because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C is also a preventative against cancer.

Collagen powder and pills spoons on pink background.

Producing Collagen

Collagen is what makes up our bones, joints, blood vessels, muscles, skin, and tendons. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s the most common protein in the human body.

Vitamin C happens to be an important factor in the creation of collagen in the body, which has cascading effects on a ton of different tissues and organs. Our collagen production begins to wind down after the age of 25, and low vitamin C levels can hurt production even more.

Improving Heart and Brain Health

Studies have shown that vitamin C can potentially decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases by around 25% in people who either take it through their diet or supplements.

The nutrient is able to relax blood vessels while also releasing enzymes that manage blood clots and platelet adhesion. Furthermore, vitamin C also improves the amount of blood that’s pumped out of the heart every time it beats.

Both of these things together make vitamin C an important nutrient for maintaining heart health. Vitamin C is also able to help against reperfusion injuries—when previously deoxygenated cells (due to a stroke or heart attack) are suddenly oxygenated.

This leads to the creation of free radicals, which vitamin C is able to counteract. Similar benefits can be seen when it comes to reperfusion in the brain when tissue is damaged.

Dosage and Side Effects

As we mentioned above, vitamin C is one of the safest supplements that you can take. You can take it on an empty stomach, but larger doses are better after a meal.

The recommended daily value is about 75 to 90 mg for adults, but most research studying its benefits uses much larger dosages. These dosages tend to range from 500 mg to 1000 mg, with 2000 mg being the upper limit.

In fact, vitamin C may be one of the few nutrients where “less is more” isn’t true (as long as you stick to below the upper limit of 2000 mg). It’s likely best to supplement with at least 500 mg and also ensure that you’re getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day—partly for the vitamin C, and partly for all of the other micronutrients that they offer.

And even on the higher end of the dosage, there aren’t any serious side effects. Some types of supplements may irritate the stomach, and going over 2000 mg in a day may cause diarrhea or nausea. But otherwise, there really isn’t anything to worry about.

In certain cases, very high doses (upwards of 4000 mg) may be prescribed for patients that have had a heart attack or stroke. This helps protect against oxidative damage due to reperfusion.

There is also some weak evidence that suggests that vitamin C may lessen the effects of ADHD medications that are amphetamine-based. However, this hasn’t been seen in humans yet so any potential impacts are likely to be very minimal, if existing at all.

Getting the Good Stuff

When it comes to “fat-soluble” vitamin C, there are some things to watch out for that can speak to its effectiveness (or lack of it).

For example, certain compounds such as ascorbyl palmitate are labeled as fat-soluble and liposomal, but will not form the necessary liposomes. These are usually combinations of fat and of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is a different form of vitamin C than liposomal vitamin C.

Not only does this formulation contain significantly less of the actual vitamin C, but it’s also easily digestible. Why might that be a bad thing? Before the vitamin C can get to where your cells need it, it’s already being broken down in your stomach and small intestine.

This releases the bond between the fat and the vitamin and is about as effective as simply supplementing with regular old vitamin C. This is one thing to watch out for when looking for “fat-soluble” vitamin C supplements.

Rather, you want to find a product that contains either a “formed liposomal” or a “pro-liposomal,” containing a phospholipid such as (but not necessarily) phosphatidylcholine. Fat-soluble vitamin C supplements such as ascorbyl palmitate should be avoided since they don’t offer much over regular vitamin C.

You’ll also want to be paying attention to things like sugar levels. Especially if it’s a chewable vitamin, it will probably contain some sugars in order to mask the (bad) taste of vitamin C.

However, try to avoid refined versions of sugars, such as fructose, dextrose, or glucose. Non-GMO and gluten-free formulations can be found as well.

How Long till the Benefits Kick In?

Whether liposomal or not, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation on when you should start seeing results after taking it. The key is to be consistent. Taking a supplement only a couple of days of the week (unless directly specified by the manufacturer) will not lead to any efficient or long-term benefits for you.

Especially with something like vitamin C that’s required every day, you should make a habit of supplementing with it daily, or at least ensuring that you’re getting enough through your diet.

While a 3-week period has been thrown around as the minimum amount of time before seeing results, this will differ from person to person. Just know that any benefits might take a while to show themselves, and you need to be backing everything up with a lifestyle that puts your health front and center.

Man doing yoga outdoors

Vitamin C and Holistic Health

The benefits of vitamin C combined with liposome are extremely potent and beneficial for your health, but no amount of supplementing will be able to make up for an unhealthy lifestyle. Getting the most out of vitamin C (and any supplement for that matter) is predicated on a strong foundation of diet, exercise, and rest.

While supplements are useful, they won’t give you the variety of nutrients that a well-rounded diet will, and so it’s crucial to make proper food choices if you’re looking to reap all the benefits of liposomal vitamin C.

The same can be said for both exercise and rest: without one or the other, vitamin C will only be able to help so much. To maximize benefits and ensure that no gains are being left on the table, it’s necessary to make a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and high-quality sleep part of your routine.

Only once you’ve got your bases covered will you be able to get everything you can out of a high-quality liposomal vitamin C supplement.

Keep these tenets close to your routine, and you’ll be seeing improvements in every aspect of your life.