Are 90% of your vitamins going down the toilet?


If you live in the USA it is likely that you have
been exposed to advertising suggesting that 90%
of the vitamin tablets that you are taking are
going down the toilet. Because these claims are
so wide-spread I feel that is appropriate to address
the issue of bio-availability and sort out the
fact from the fiction.

Is this claim true or not? The answer is not a
definitive yes or no because there is no benchmark
given in which to base the claim on. I’ll try to explain.

Supplements are a bit like cars. For example,Are 90% of your vitamins going down the toilet? Articles at one
end of the spectrum you may have a Russian built Lada
which are cheap, utilitarian and very unreliable
(at least they used to be) and cost a few thousand
dollars or you may have a Rolls Royce which is the
ultimate in luxury motoring and reliability and will
set you back around a half million dollars. There is
no comparison between the two vehicles.

The same principle applies to supplements

You can buy cheap supplements at the supermarket and
what you get is a product which is manufactured to a
price. This means that the cheapest possible ingredients
are used as well as the cheapest excipients which bind
the ingredients together. To give you an idea of just
how big the difference of ingredient costs can be I will
quote an example of one nutrient… Beta Carotene.

The overwhelming majority of manufacturers use synthetic
beta carotene (even those producing the more expensive
brands). The cost of synthetic beta carotene to a
manufacturer is around $60 per kilo.

However, the 98% pure natural crystalline beta carotene
that we use in our Total Balance costs over $2,400 per kilo.

The same differences can apply with Vitamin B12 which is
generally 3% pure and costs $340 per kilo versus the
99% pure that we use at $12,000 per kg. The differences
do not stop at the active ingredient level but can also
apply to the excipients as well. Some cheaper excipients
bind the ingredients together so well that after swallowing
the tablet a large proportion of it passes right through
your system and does indeed end up in the toilet.

To make matters worse those ingredients that are released
are done so in the stomach and are largely destroyed by
your stomach acids. When using these types of cheap
supplements as the ‘yard stick’ the statement of 90% of
the supplement ending up down the toilet is indeed true…

But, that is like trying to compare apples with oranges…

The difference between some supplements are as great as the
example given earlier about the motor vehicles, not only in
the quality of the ingredients used but also the delivery
system employed or in most cases the lack of it. When I am
talking about a delivery system I am referring to how the
active ingredients get into your blood stream where they
are needed to do their work.

There are only four effective ways in which nutrients can
get into your blood stream.

1. By injection.
2. Through the mucous membranes of the mouth. (Only some nutrients)
3. Via the lining of the walls of the upper intestine.
4. Via the lining of the walls of the colon.

The methods which are used are as follows:

1. Injection with a hypodermic syringe… only practical via
a clinic or physician. B12 injections for example.
2. Through the mucous membranes of the mouth by a sublingual
tablet or liquid. Note: This has limitations because many
nutrients cannot be absorbed through these membranes.
(However, for those ingredients that can be absorbed it
is a very good method which is why we use it for our male
and female sex rejuvenator products.)
3. Via the lining of the walls of the upper intestine. This is
how our Total Balance is absorbed through the use of a
special delivery system within the excipients.
4. Via the lining of the colon walls using suppositories which
are prescription items and do not apply to supplements.

Sadly the overwhelming majority of supplements do not have
any ‘delivery’ system. They are simply made into a tablet or
capsule and if they dissolve within a reasonable time in water
that’s OK… but, because of this solubility the majority of
the active ingredients are destroyed by the stomach acids.
As a result only about 10 – 15% of the active ingredients
actually get into the blood stream.

This percentage number is what is considered to be the
bio-availability of the product as is quite standard for
average supplements. In comparison the bio-availability of
our Total Balance is around 80%.

Why don’t all supplements have higher bio-availability?

This can be summed up in two words… cost and know how. It
is surprising how few supplement companies have the technical
know how to incorporate effective delivery systems into their
products. And, often the will to spend the extra money in
production costs.

OK, so you may now be thinking to yourself … what about
these companies that are ‘knocking’ ordinary supplements …
are their products as bio-available as they claim?

The short answer is NO! I’ll expand on this:

The companies that are making these claims are generally
those that are selling liquid supplements. Not sublingual
liquids because as I mentioned earlier that is not practical
for many nutrients and certainly not for a general health
supplement. The liquid products that are being sold are
taken by drinking straight or mixing with water. Many of
the companies selling these products are multi level
marketing companies and rely more on hype than good science
to sell their products.

So, what happens when you drink these products?

Very simply the greatest bulk of the nutrients are destroyed
by the stomach acids which mean that the bio-availability of
these liquids is no greater than an ordinary capsule which
dissolves quickly in the stomach. Granted there are no tablet
remains to pass through your digestive system intact but the
greatest percentage of the active ingredients of the liquids
are destroyed in the stomach.

Unfortunately these companies take advantage of the fact that
people do not understand the principles behind the
bio-availability and as such can manipulate their presentation
to make it appear that the efficacy of their product is much
higher than it is in reality.

Just a final comment on these liquid products! Many of them
are very weak. If you are currently using them or considering
doing so, make sure you find out the amount of ACTIVE
ingredient per dose and what the ingredients are. As a
consumer you are entitled to know that, so ask for it and if
you don’t get the information you can be sure that the potency
is very low and you should avoid it as your money is better
spent elsewhere. Some of these products are little more than
water with a few nutrients thrown in.

In good health,

Warren Matthews
Xtend-Life Natural products

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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