Liposomes are a great supplement to help with bioavailability. After all, we all know that the vast majority of Americans take some kind of nutritional or vitamin supplement every day. But the actual bioavailability, or the proportion of a substance that actually enters the circulation after being consumed, varies widely from product to product. That means when you pop a multivitamin, your body may be absorbing anywhere from ten to ninety percent of the vitamins and minerals that you’re ingesting.
The ugly truth is that when we ingest even some of the most potent vitamins and minerals, only a small percentage of them are absorbed by our bodies. On top of that, our ability to absorb nutrients from orally taken substances can be greatly affected by bacteria in your gut as well as the acid in your stomach. With numbers like these, there must a solution to improve the bioavailability of the supplements we depend on for daily use. Luckily there, is that solution is called Liposomes.
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What are Liposomes?
Technically speaking, liposomes are tiny, artificial lipid bubbles that are about 1/1000th the width of a single human hair. They are made up of the same type of fat as our own cell membranes, making them both biocompatible and very stable when introduced to our bodies. But most importantly, liposomes are able to deliver fat-soluble substances in a stable way. That means from the moment you ingest them, liposomes are working to help you absorb nutrients and protect against their breakdown by bacteria and stomach acid. Since liposomes are intentionally created out of the same fat molecules (lipids) as our own cell membranes, they can instantly effectively combine with the cells in our bodies to create lasting and powerful support.
There are three different types of liposomes, and each kind can be implemented to aid in the absorption of different drugs or to target specific kinds of cells. There have been over 50,000 studies on liposomes from around the world, and amazing advances in their formulation have helped a wide range of industries including medicine, cosmetics, vitamins, botanicals, and farming agriculture.
What are Liposomes Made From?
Without getting too technical, liposomes are generally composed of naturally derived lipid chains that sometimes contain materials from eggs – so be careful when taking them if you are vegan or are allergic to eggs. It’s also pretty common for liposomes to contain a tiny layer of water that is trapped between the layers of lipids.
You may recognize the prefix “lipo” from things like “liposuction”. That’s because the words are derived from Greek word ‘lipos’, which means fat. ‘Soma’ in Greek means body, so when you put the two together, you get liposomes.
Liposomes are classified as either multilamellar or unilamellar. Unilamellar liposomes contain a single layer of lipids that holds a tiny amount of water. Multilamellar liposomes, on the other hand, use multiple layers of lipids to hold the water.
Benefits of Liposomes
Besides greatly increasing the bioavailability and absorption of the substances they are helping to deliver, liposomes can be beneficial in and of themselves. The phospholipids in liposomes that your cell membranes recognize are actually therapeutic – they can help nourish cell membranes by providing the lipids needed for them to function optimally. They can help deliver anything from supplements and antioxidants like GSH to cancer treatments and anti-fungal agents.
While all the benefits of liposomes in pharmaceutical use can be difficult to quantify, here are a few of the most common:
- Improved solubility and drug absorption.
- Focused effects on immune system cells.
- Sustained release for systemic and synergistic effects.
- Improved tissue penetration and bioavailability
- Inclusion of mechanisms to avoid or target certain parts of the body.
The brilliance of the liposome drug delivery system has inspired a new wave of ingenious treatments for many serious ailments.
Liposomes as Anti-Cancer Therapy
One of the most amazing benefits of liposomal drugs is that they can be designed and formulated to target certain cells or cell groups in the blood or certain areas of the body. This includes specific organs and even disease sites such as tumors. Thus, liposomes have become a proven and effective part of many anticancer treatments, and several studies have supported their use alongside traditional methods of fighting cancer.
For example, certain medications prescribed for fighting cancer such as anthracyclines bring with them very high toxicity. But using liposomes to target a specific area affected by the cancer cells will help limit the effects on the full body and lower the overall toxic effect.
Liposomes as a Method to Fight Fungal Infections
Liposomes can also be used as a delivery system for medications such as amphotericin B, a powerful anti-fungal drug that is often used in the treatment of fungal infections.
Using liposomes as carriers to encapsulate amphotericin B can help to mitigate or even stop the unwanted build-up of the drug in important organs as well as your central nervous system, thus dramatically reducing the risk of body toxicity. In addition to that, the liposomes work to more naturally target the mononuclear phagocytic system where the fungus usually exists, which will lead to a more effective and passive form of drug targeting.
Liposomes Vs. Parasitic Diseases
Certain Parasitic Diseases can become potentially fatal because of the way they are treated. That’s because the toxic dosage limits of many of the drugs used to fight off these terrible diseases are often barely higher than the recommended dose. But drug delivery systems like liposomes have been helping with that problem, as they can naturally target the center of the parasitic disease in the body without increasing the body’s toxic level.
Liposomes and Bacterial Infections
With the advent of modern-day antibiotics that can be taken orally, liposomes don’t have as wide a range of use in fighting bacterial infections as they do with other kinds of ailments. However, they are still a useful form of encapsulation for certain antibiotics that can be potentially toxic when administered intravenously, including ribavirin, azidothymidine, and acyclovir.
Liposomes are an amazing use of modern technology that has improved the bioavailability and potency of countless drugs, vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements. By creating a liposome drug delivery system that is made of the same kinds of lipids as our own cell membranes, scientists have effectively found a way to trick our bodies into quickly absorbing much-needed substances. With no side effects or potential downsides, be on the lookout for liposomal versions of all your favorite vitamins and supplements so that you can be sure that they are having their intended effect.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.