Now that we know from a previous article that liposomal products are the way to go for superior absorption, how do we identify a genuinely superior one?
Here are the criteria for superior liposomes:
- Raw Material Quality & Purity – Pure phosphatidylcholine has obvious benefits as a liposome choice as it has the right flexibility to allow intraoral absorption right away into circulation, and upon swallowing, be able to survive stomach acid, avoid hepatic first-pass metabolism, and diffuse into circulation. On top of that, phosphatidylcholine itself is a fundamental membrane medicine and therapeutic molecule that we can’t get enough of. It has numerous important benefits on its own. Therefore, it is crucial to use pure forms of phosphatidylcholine and not those cheap and inferior lecithin-based versions that have only 15-50% phosphatidylcholine. This is not only an impediment to optimal delivery and “bulking up” the volume of the product with unnecessary components, but potentially creating allergy issues due to the protein and gene fragments of soy lecithin. We recommend only German injectable grade purified phosphatidylcholine as injectables are stringently tested and validated to be close to 100% pure phosphatidylcholine, with virtually no protein or gene left. This leaves next to no chance of any “allergic reactions” to it.
- Particle Size – In a recent study by Hood R. et al (2012) with various liposomes, cellular uptake increased 9 times as liposome size decreased from 236 nm to 97 nm, and was 34 times higher at 64 nm. In another study, there was a threefold increase in cellular uptake as particle size of liposomes decreased from 405 nm to 250 nm, and another 10% increase in uptake at the smallest size tested, which was 123 nm.
But how would we laypeople even be able to tell the particle size? Manufacturers may make claims about particle size without being able to back it up.
Well, thankfully we can tell simply by the visual appearance of the product. If they are home-kitchen blended lecithin emulsions that separate after a while and are not uniform – that’s not even a liposomal product. But for genuine liposomal products, they are generally grouped into 3 categories based on size as follows.
– MLVs (Multilamellar Vesicles): These are achieved through low to medium shear methods requiring large lecithin loads as there are multiple-layers in the phospholipid leaving very little space in the core for nutrient “entrapping”. The particles in such products have a high diameter size of 300 – 5,000 nanometres. This is not sufficient for optimal cellular absorption. Even big, doctor-recommended brands with good reviews fall in this range. The way to tell if the product falls in this category is its texture – it is like a viscous gel.
– LUVs (Large Unilamellar Vesicles): These are produced through rotor-stator dispersion processes – which create milky, opaque liposomal solutions where particle diameter sizes range from 100 to 300 nanometres. Again, this is not nearly enough for cellular absporption.
– SUVs (Small Unilamellar Vesicles): Through sonication and high-pressure homogenisation, the particle and diameter sizes range from 10 – 100 nanometres. These are transparent as they are smaller than the wavelength of light. The products we recommend are primarily in the 20 – 50 nanometres range, and definitely sub 100 nanometres – and this is all validated with photon correlation spectrometry and electron spectroscopy methods.
- Stability – Long-term stability is crucial and difficult to achieve in liposomes. Instability is easily demonstrated by creaming – the rise of free fats to the top. On the other end of the spectrum, we have sedimentation where compounds fall out of the liposome. A good, stable liposome will be seen as a uniform, continuous phase throughout the liquid – which is easy to tell when they are small in size (transparent), and poured out into clear glass i.e. uniformly transparent. Membrane surface modifiers have been used to create more stable and absorbable liposomes with longer shelf life. The liposomes we recommend use a water soluble Vitamin E derivative (Tocofersolan) to achieve this in an optimal way. Another benefit of using small SUV liposomes apart from markedly increased absorption is that the Brownian movement of the nanoparticles exceed the force of gravity that moves the oils to the top, making it inherently more stable and possessing higher shelf life. Other bigger liposomes require weight agents to prevent this occurrence, which would potentially impede absorption further.
- Circulation Half-Life – Apart from ease of absorption, when a compound remains longer in circulation, it is more “available” for use. The Mononuclear Phagocyte System is the system of monocytes and macrophages in the lymph nodes, spleen and liver that clear particles from the blood. With small liposomes, they circulate longer as they are not as quickly detected and “caught” as the larger ones. However, the membrane surface modification plays a massive role in increasing circulation half-life. By coating the liposome membrane surface with Tocofersolan hydrophilic chains, we achieve what is termed “stealth liposomes” that can remain undetected for a much longer time, achieving up to 10-fold higher circulation half-lives than liposomes without these hydrophilic chains!
- Serum & Cellular Uptake Studies – To prove that particle size and membrane modification makes a difference, the manufacturer must be able to provide serum uptake and cell culture uptake studies to objectively demonstrate superiority over other liposomal and non-liposomal products. Otherwise they are just making baseless claims.
At Root of Life, we offer products from Quicksilver Scientific, which is the only company in the nutraceutical world that meets all the criteria. The formulator and brains behind Quicksilver Scientific, Dr. Chris Shade, does not just have a PhD in the field of Chemistry, but he’s a highly regarded and sought after lecturer in the clinician field, which speaks volumes about the efficacy of his products and his deep knowledge.