From the benefits for your skin to the extra immune support, there is a multitude of reasons for the rising popularity of Liposomal Vitamin C supplements – but what actually is it? Here’s everything you need to know about Liposomal Vitamin C and why people are switching out their capsules.
First of all, there is no difference in the Vitamin C itself – the only difference between Liposomal Vitamin C supplements and normal vitamin C supplements is that instead of just taking vitamin C in its raw form, the vitamin C is encapsulated in something called ‘Liposomes’. It turns out encapsulating vitamin C in these liposomes can have a big effect.
Liposomes are made up from a bi-layer of phospholipids – it’s essentially a layer of ‘fat’ that surrounds the vitamin C. And no, it isn’t bad for you. These phospholipids are the same things that surround our cells – they keep our cells together and contained, stopping things from getting in or out.
The phospholipids have two parts – a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail. This polar nature of phospholipids means a bi-layer can form that completely surrounds the Vitamin C. Like a magnet, the hydrophobic tails are attracted to each other and the hydrophilic heads are repelled by each other. By wrapping the vitamin C in this phospholipid bi-layer, it ensures nothing can get at the Vitamin C and the Vitamin C can’t escape – the vitamin C is ‘encapsulated’.
So when you take a Liposomal vitamin C product over a regular Vitamin C product, what you’re actually doing is taking Vitamin C that is surrounded by a layer of fat (and no… it isn’t bad for you). But why should this make such a big difference? By encapsulating Vitamin C in liposomes, it can actually have a big impact on how the Vitamin C interacts with your digestive system as well as how the vitamin C is delivered into your cells. The liposomes increase the bioavailability of the vitamin C.
A liposome is a tiny sphere that carries ingredients. Made up from a phospholipid bi-layer, the outside shell encapsulates the vitamin C forming a tiny bubble that shields it from the outside. When you take traditional vitamin C supplements, some of it gets lost during the digestion process and even less actually makes it to your cells. The liposomal shield ensures as much Vitamin C as possible makes it into your bloodstream.
Once the liposomes have transported the vitamin C through your digestive system and into your body, they will deliver the vitamin C directly into the cells themselves. Vitamin C is water-soluble: it has trouble getting into a cell through a cell membrane which is fat based. Liposomes overcome this by merging with the cell membrane of your cell, transferring its contents to the inside of the cell. By using liposomes to transport Vitamin C, we can ensure that as much Vitamin C as possible makes it to the cells that need it.
Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin
Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system
Studies have found that higher intakes of vitamin C from the diet are associated with better skin appearance, highlighting differences in skin wrinkling (4,5). This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to scientists: Vitamin C is concentrated in both the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) and the inner layer of the skin (the dermis) (1), and for some reason, as we age, the concentration of Vitamin C in our skin cells decreases (2). One way we can fight this caveat of ageing is through supplementation - studies show that oral supplementation of vitamin C increases vitamin C concentration in the skin (3).
Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, the scaffolding that holds up the skin. The role of vitamin C in regulating the synthesis of collagen is well documented (6). Collagen is a protein that lies beneath the skin, providing structure and support and is responsible for strength and elasticity – without it our skin would be really saggy. As we age, our collagen production slows down – by about 1% every year after the age of 20 – which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin no matter which moisturiser you use.
Vitamin C prevents UV damage through its antioxidant properties. Free radicals are one of the leading causes of aging skin and are caused by UV light from the sun. These highly reactive compounds attack the building blocks that make up our cells, and can breakdown the collagen in your skin encouraging wrinkles and sagging. Antioxidants neutralise these free radicals so they can’t attack your cells, travelling through your body ‘donating’ electrons to free radicals to protect your body from UV damage. Vitamin C is not only one of these antioxidants, but one of the most powerful – with the capability to donate two electrons rather than one.
Dry skin. Water is constantly flowing through the layers of our skin and evaporating into the air in a process known as ‘Trans Epidermal Water Loss’. Higher intake of dietary vitamin C has been correlated with a decreased risk of dry skin (7), suggesting that vitamin C may have effects on this process that continually sees water leaving our skin cells. Although not fully understood, it has been shown in laboratories through the use of cell culture models that the addition of vitamin C promotes the synthesis of barrier lipids, which would establish a skin with higher water retention (8,9).
One of the most popular reasons to supplement with Vitamin C is to help bolster your immune system. Whenever your cells come under stress or infection, your immune cells go into overdrive - they pump in vitamin C to achieve vitamin C levels 100x that of the blood (11,12). While good at fighting infections, it’s hard to sustain. Your immune cells are designed to pump in vitamin C whenever they need it at very short notice, but since our body can’t make or store vitamin C, our body must make do with what we’ve eaten the previous day. So just when you need extra vitamin C, your body’s stores are depleted. The fact of it is that most of us just don’t get enough vitamin C in our daily diets to satiate an active immune system; around 23% of Americans suffer vitamin C depletion, causing their immune systems to not function properly (17). Fortunately, you can improve your immune system’s function by supplementing with vitamin C (13,14,15,16). In fact, studies have shown that Vitamin C supplementation can reduce the duration of colds by up to 21%, and actually reduce cold incidence by up to 50% among people undergoing heavy stress (19,20,21).
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