FORMS OF SUPPLEMENTS
DIFFERENT SUPPLEMENT FORMATS
Tablets are the most cost-effective supplements in general which allow the manufacturer to pack the most material into a given space. Tablets are the most shelf-stable choice and retain their potency over a longer time (2-3 years) compared to liquids, powders and most capsules. Tablets can be offered in a wide range of sizes and shapes. And as long as you choose product from a reputable manufacturer, formulate it based on nutrient synergy and take it as directed, you do not need to worry about absorption issues with tablets.
Drawbacks: Large tablets can be hard for some people to swallow (they can be crushed just before use). Tablets do not offer the flexibility of dosing that liquids and powders do.
Capsules are widely used in supplements because they are easy-to-swallow and break down quickly in the stomach, although not to the point that there is any nutritional advantage. Vegetarian capsules are a gelatin-free alternative for customers hesitant to consume meat by-products like gelatin. Some people like that capsules can be opened for the use of all or part of it’s the powdered contents, i.e., mixing the nutrients in applesauce or a protein shake. That can be an advantage for children or others who have difficulty swallowing pills.
Drawbacks: Capsules cost more than tablets and have significant space and potency limitations since their powdered contents cannot be compressed to a significant degree. Since capsules are not air-tight, their shelf-life is shorter than tablets.
Softgels are one-piece gelatin capsules almost exclusively used for liquid or oil-based formulas. Although vegetarian softgels have been introduced to the market, adoption has been slow and gelatin softgels are the most common type on the market. Because of their smooth contour and shape, softgels are very easy-to-swallow regardless of size. They also offer superior shelf-life compared to capsules, liquids and powders since they are completely sealed and air-tight.
Drawback: Softgel manufacturing is specialized and considerably more expensive than tablets or capsules, and therefore softgel products cost more.
Chewables need no explanation. But they always cost more on a dollar-per-milligram basis and tend to be lower potency when compared to comparable products in tablet and capsule forms. They usually have some sugar and flavorings added which many health-conscious people strenuously try to avoid. Chewables are best-reserved for children or those who really can not swallow tablets or capsules.
Powders can be very cost-effective, but they must be mixed in liquid (i.e., water, juice, shakes) or food. Powders do offer great flexibility with dosing – you can make much finer adjustments to the dose than with tablets and capsules. For supplements taken in gram quantities powders are much more practical.
Liquid supplements. Customers often seek out liquid supplements based on their belief that liquid supplements absorb faster and are therefore better than other forms. This difference is not great enough to amount to a noticeable or significant nutritional difference, so that is not educated reasoning to go liquid. And, as previously stated, when it comes to essential nutrients, slower absorption may be better. However, liquids offer a flexibility with dosing and are very easy for most people, especially children and the elderly, to take.
Drawbacks: Liquid supplements are always more expensive and their shelf life is shorter than with other formats. They are heavier to transport. They are not portable like capsules and tablets. They often require refrigeration. Many contain flavoring and other ingredients that should be avoided. For instance Centrum multivitamin liquid product contains 5 g of sugar per serving in addition to ethyl alcohol, polysorbate 80 (neurotoxin), and synthetic vitamin E (DL form )and other low potency ingredients. It is always important to read labels when buying any product.
Dr. Aleksandra Niedzwiecki
DR. RATH RESAERCH INSTITUTE
SANTA CLARA, CA, USA