What Is Liposomal Vitamin C? Exactly How This Superstar Supplement Can Benefit Your Health
In the past few years, there has been a plethora of "liposomal" supplements to hit the market. But what exactly are liposomal supplements, and what makes them different from traditional supplements?
In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I often recommend liposomal supplements as a way to target certain health issues as they are a great way to get therapeutic dosages of certain nutrients - specifically Vitamin C.
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin which means it is naturally found in food as well as the water that resides in a food. Since your body does not typically store these vitamins, and so we need to get them regularly from the foods that we eat or through supplementation. So before we dive into the top liposomal vitamin c benefits, let’s learn a little bit more about liposomal vitamins and what makes them the gold standard when it comes to supplementation.
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What is liposomal vitamin C?
Most vitamin C supplements you buy are either capsules or powders. Liposomal vitamins on the other hand, come in the form of a liquid gel inside a single serve packet. These are typically added to a little bit of water to make them easier to swallow but you can also take them directly from their individual serving packet.
What are liposomes?
Liposomes are essentially fatty transporters. Every cell in your body is wrapped with a fatty cell membrane that closely resembles liposomes.
Liposomal supplementation works by creating a fatty encapsulation over specific nutrients - in this case vitamin C - to enable the most effective transportation to our cells so your body can reap all the benefits of this amazing nutrient.
Is liposomal vitamin C better than regular vitamin C?
While numerous clinical studies back the benefits of taking vitamin C, traditional oral pills and powders provide limited absorption. This is because when you take traditional vitamin C, this nutrient has to contend with stomach acid and enzymes before finally reaching your small intestine, where there is actually very little vitamin C leftover for your body to absorb into your cells where they’re needed. In fact, according to studies only about 14-30% of vitamin C from traditional supplements are absorbed by your body! (1)
Medication, excess sugar, and digestive conditions that damage your gut health - where close to 80% of your immune system resides - can deplete nutrients like Vitamin C as well by inhibiting absorption even further.
This is where liposomal vitamin C shines. Because of its unique encapsulation technology, liposomal vitamin C is simply more bioavailable than other forms of vitamin C making it the superior option - especially if you are struggling with gut problems or looking to reap specific benefits of taking vitamin C.
What is liposomal vitamin C good for?
The benefits of liposomal vitamin C are vast. Not only is it a superstar immune booster, vitamin C is involved in multiple areas of your health that you might not have expected. These are my top liposomal vitamin C benefits.
1. Eye health
According to the American Optometric Association, consistent vitamin C supplementation is able to reduce your risk of developing cataracts in addition to slowing the progression of macular degeneration and visual acuity loss - two age-related vision problems. (2)
2. Skin health
Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, which supports skin strength and elasticity. Collagen is made up of three amino acids - glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. (3) It provides structural support to our connective tissue, bones, tendons, and your skin. However, as you age, collagen levels decrease contributing to the appearance of wrinkles. By getting enough vitamin C, you are facilitating optimal collagen production and healthy skin.
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant in the body to fight free-radicals generated by UV light and minimize oxidative stress. Since UV light depletes Vitamin C in your skin, your body needs to be replenished after sun exposure. Studies have even shown that these antioxidant properties can further protect against aging through surface-level collagen synthesis and by preventing collagen breakdown. (4) It can also decrease hyperpigmentation and dark spots on the skin.
3. Immune function
Your immune system utilizes Vitamin C in numerous ways, including:
- To produce antibodies
- For white cells to multiply and function optimally
- Fights oxidative stress, which weakens the immune system
When taken to fight off a cold, studies have found that vitamin C was able to reduce symptoms of the cold by up to 30 percent. (5) Combining it with zinc can further increase vitamin C’s immune-boosting properties.
4. Cardiovascular support
Due to its superstar antioxidant capabilities, vitamin C also works to inhibit oxidation of LDL-protein which is involved in atherosclerosis, and can even improve arterial stiffness and lipid profiles for reduced heart disease risk. (6)
5. Neurotransmitter support
Vitamin C is responsible for synthesizing important mood boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Liposomal vitamin C has been linked to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, resulting in better mental health and a more stabilized mood. (7)
Effectiveness of liposomal vitamin C
Although liposomal supplements are becoming more popular, the growing number of liposomal vitamin C benefits can’t be denied. Studies are continuing to look at the differences between regular supplementation and liposomal, but a recent study concluded that liposomal vitamin C had a significantly greater absorption rate than non-liposomal vitamin C. (8)
How to pick the right supplement
It’s one thing to make the switch to liposomal vitamin C, but it’s just as important to choose the right brand of liposomal supplements. After all, many brands don’t truly understand the science behind liposomal technology.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a liposomal vitamin C:
1. Number of additives
The best brands have the fewest ingredients. Any extra ingredients like artificial fillers and colors that can negate the benefits of why you are taking a supplement in the first place. The majority of the ingredient list should be made up of the active nutrient.
You shouldn’t have to go on a wild goose chase to validate a brand’s products. When you look up a brand they should be completely transparent about every aspect of their supplements including the quality of their ingredients, where they source them from, and their manufacturing process. As a bonus, they should also include science-backed research supporting the benefits of their supplements.
It’s not just enough to take my word for it. As I mentioned above, brands should be able to provide clinical studies on the effectiveness of their products and the nutrients included. Certain brands even test their specific products through a third party to validate its effectiveness
My favorite liposomal brand
As the first liposomal Vitamin C brand on the market, LivOn Labs has been a top-seller since 2004 due to its proven effectiveness and continues to be my go-to recommendation for my patients. In fact, LivOn Labs Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C has been shown in a study to absorb 50% better in white blood cells (the defense mechanisms of your immune system) than vitamin C powder! I personally take LivOn Labs Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C on a regular basis during the cold and flu season and daily whenever I am traveling to keep my immune system on the defensive.
For more information on how to determine the quality of vitamins and supplements like a pro, check out my article here.
What are the side effects of liposomal vitamin C?
In general, there are very minimal side effects to liposomal vitamin C as it is difficult to overdose on Vitamin C considering the upper limit is 2,000 mg per day. This is almost impossible to get through food alone and is mainly worth taking into consideration if you are supplementing.
Even if you do have too much vitamin C, the most common adverse reactions are nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. The only caveat to this is a slight increased risk for kidney stones in men only with continued high supplementation. And since vitamin C is water-soluble, toxicity is uncommon since whatever is not utilized by the body gets expelled through your urine.
Can you take vitamin C everyday?
As of now, there is not much research saying that vitamin C isn’t safe to take on a daily basis. The National Institutes of Health recommends different dosages based on your age and gender. (9)
- 0-6 months: 40mg per day
- 7-12 months: 50mg per day
- 1-3 years: 15mg per day
- 4-8 years: 25mg per day
- 9-13 years: 45mg per day
- 14-18 years: 75mg per day for men, 65mg per day for women
- 19 years and older: 90mg per day for men, 85mg per day for women
They also recommend that those who smoke up their daily intake by 35mg, pregnant women up their daily intake to 85mg, and breastfeeding women up their daily intake to 120mg.
Seeking help from a functional medicine doctor
Ultimately, the best supplement for you comes down to your individual health case. While there are many benefits of vitamin C, whether or not you need to take a supplement, especially a liposomal supplement, is dependent on your health needs and goals. In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I specialize in helping you uncover the root cause of your health problems and personalizing a list of recommended supplements along with the correct dosages and recommended brands to help you overcome your symptoms.
If you are ready to cut the confusion behind supplements and determine what supplements are right for you, schedule a telehealth functional medicine consultation today.
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- Yung, S et al. “Ascorbic acid absorption in humans: a comparison among several dosage forms.” Journal of pharmaceutical sciences vol. 71,3 (1982): 282-5. doi:10.1002/jps.2600710304
- Diet and Nutrition American Optometric Association February 2023. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y
- Boyera, N et al. “Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts.” International journal of cosmetic science vol. 20,3 (1998): 151-8. doi:10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171747.x
- Al-Niaimi, Firas, and Nicole Yi Zhen Chiang. “Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 10,7 (2017): 14-17.
- Anderson, T W et al. “Vitamin C and the common cold: a double-blind trial.” Canadian Medical Association journal vol. 107,6 (1972): 503-8.
- Moser, Melissa A, and Ock K Chun. “Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 17,8 1328. 12 Aug. 2016, doi:10.3390/ijms17081328
- Ballaz, Santiago J, and George V Rebec. “Neurobiology of vitamin C: Expanding the focus from antioxidant to endogenous neuromodulator.” Pharmacological research vol. 146 (2019): 104321. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104321
- Davis, Janelle L et al. “Liposomal-encapsulated Ascorbic Acid: Influence on Vitamin C Bioavailability and Capacity to Protect Against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury.” Nutrition and metabolic insights vol. 9 25-30. 20 Jun. 2016, doi:10.4137/NMI.S39764
- Vitamin C NIH February 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.
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