IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE “WATER”
Are Liquid Supplements Everything You Expect?
With the consistent growth and expansion of the equine supplement industry, products are now available in almost every physical form known to man. Powders, liquids, gels, pastes, tablets, etc. Each of these has legitimate pros and cons that present much confusion for the consumer.
In this article we’ll cover the pros & cons of Liquid Supplements.
Liquid supplements. Customers often seek out liquid supplements based on their belief that liquid supplements absorb faster and are therefore better than other forms. They might, but, again, this difference is not great enough to amount to a noticeable or significant nutritional difference, so that’s not really a great reason to go liquid. And as we’ve said, when it comes to essential nutrients, slower absorption may be better. Liquids do offer a lot of flexibility with dosing and are very easy for most people to take.
Draw backs? They are always more expensive on a dollars-per-nutrient basis and their shelf life is shorter than with other formats. They are heavier to transport. They often require refrigeration. Depending on the how it’s made, liquid supplements often have problems with ingredients settling to the bottom between uses. Even when the bottle is shaken before each use, dispersion of ingredients is imprecise and less consistent than with powdered products.
Another problem with liquid vitamin supplements is that the stability of many vitamins and minerals is questionable when they are dissolved in water. When vitamin levels aren’t stable, the effects of the supplement aren’t reliable. The biggest disadvantage is that many antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin C, begin to lose their antioxidant potency as soon as they are exposed to air. Fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E, K which dissolve in fatty substances – cannot be properly dissolved in liquid vitamin supplements, which are water based. This is one of reasons you have to shake them well before use.
The value of some liquid supplements begins to degrade upon opening the bottle, sooner if they aren’t properly manufactured, and very quickly if you don’t close the container tightly after every use, and in many cases, refrigerate. Always check usage guidelines and shelf life advice, making sure the supplement will work in your environment.
It’s fair to expect that the additives you don’t want in solid supplements not be used in your liquid supplements. Check the label for artificial additives, casein, gluten, soy, and sugar. ‘Natural’ additives are just fillers as well, taking up space and reducing KEY ingredients that you are looking and paying for.
Another valid question is; do your liquid supplements contain chemical preservatives to help stabilize the formula? Unfortunately, this is probably the biggest draw back for liquid formats. Any time moisture is present many key ingredients ‘go to work’ and/or also begin to degrade. The preservatives are necessary to maintain the integrity of the formula.
Propylene Glycol is a chemical used to stabilize liquid health supplements. You may have also seen it listed on soaps, shampoos, body lotions, deodorants, baby wipes, cosmetics, pet foods and yes, It’s also used in antifreeze. This ingredient is used as a humescent in these products, keeping them moist.Too much propylene glycol can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, seizures and fatal arrhythmias of the heart. Search ‘Propylene Glycol’ to find numerous references to both the pros & cons.
Why would propylene glycol be an issue if it’s a substance approved by the FDA & WHO? Can’t the supplement manufacturers simply measure a harmless amount? Yes they can and DO, quite often. This chemical is commonly used in many household items.
Sodium Benzoate is a widespread food preservative that is found in a number of food products. It is basically a type of salt that is, mostly, chemically prepared to preserve a variety of food products.
Because the conversion of sodium benzoate to benzene occurs in the presence of vitamin C, this unhealthy preservative may be particularly unsafe when used in fruit products and fruit juices where high vitamin C fruits are present. It’s also thought that heat plays a role in the conversion to benzene, so heating products containing this preservative could increase the risk of negative health effects.
Unfortunately, many of the preservatives used in common food products have raised health concerns although sodium benzoate appears to be under the most scrutiny right now. To reduce risk of exposure, read nutrition labels closely and avoid products that contain sodium benzoate, which can also be listed on the label as E211. Be particularly careful to avoid buying products high in vitamin C that have this unhealthy preservative and never put any product containing sodium benzoate under heat.
Xanthan Gum is a polysaccharide used as a food additive, commonly used as a food thickening agent (in salad dressings, for example) and a stabilizer (in cosmetic products, for example, to prevent ingredients from separating). One of the most remarkable properties of xanthan gum is its ability to produce a large increase in the viscosity of a liquid by adding a very small quantity of gum, on the order of one percent.
The most common side effects of xanthan gum are gas and bloating abdominal pain may be occur from gas buildup in the intestines. A clinical study on the effects of xanthan gum on dogs was completed by the World Health Organization. In this study, dogs were fed large amounts of pure xanthan gum and experienced weight loss and chronic diarrhea.
Water is common “filler” for liquid supplements. There is no arguing the importance of water but do we really need to pay in some cases $50+ for a gallon of something that is filled with more that 50% water.
One final point about absorption; faster isn’t necessarily better. Many people spend the extra money for liquid supplements based on a belief that they will absorb faster than capsules or tablets. They might, but the time difference between complete absorption of liquids versus other forms, 20-30 minutes, does not amount to a noticeable advantage or a nutritional advantage with most supplements. In fact, where higher potencies are concerned, slower absorption may be preferable to fast, sudden absorption. This is because there are limits to how fast and how much of a given nutrient can be absorbed per unit of time. When you overwhelm these absorption pathways, you do waste nutrients. Slower is better when it comes to essential nutrients.
Artificial Colors & Flavors speak for themselves, we don’t need them, why would we want them in our supplements? Liquid products must have an appealing presence and good flavor to the consumer. Without colors and/or flavors they would look very drab and taste very bland, bitter or unpalatable all together. Many times they are packaged in clear containers so, again, artificial color does the trick in creating the appeal the consumer is looking for. And, in most cases the consumer is unaware, they have no idea these ingredients are included in their ‘health’ supplement.