Popping a pill is no longer the only way to take a vitamin. Technical progress means that daily supplements are now available in a wide range of forms – oral sprays, skin patches and even bath salts.
Last week a study at the University of Sheffield discovered that an oral spray of vitamin D was as effective as pills. We asked Dr. Lindsy Kass, a sports scientist and senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, who has conducted studies on how well we absorb nutrients through the skin, to give her opinion on some of the latest products. We then assessed them.
Technical progress means that daily supplements are now available in a wide range of forms – oral sprays, skin patches and even bath salts (stock image)
Vie, 30 plasters, £ 16.95, amazon.co.uk
This skin patch contains a blend of vitamins C, D, E, various B vitamins and resveratrol and promises to bring the ingredients directly into the bloodstream
Claim: This skin patch contains a blend of vitamins C, D, E, various B vitamins and resveratrol (an antioxidant that is thought to prevent cell damage) and promises to bring the ingredients directly into the bloodstream. Apply a patch to clean, hairless skin such as the upper arm daily.
EXPERTISE: The biggest challenge when administering vitamins through the skin is the low permeability; Simply put, the skin does not allow many substances through. To be absorbed through the skin, a product must be fat-soluble (because it is much easier for a greasy substance to penetrate the waxy outer layer of the skin) and contain nanoparticles that are small enough to pass through.
Upon ingestion, nutrients are broken down by the digestive system, reducing the amount absorbed by the body. By delivering them through the skin, the theory is that this allows more to be absorbed. Some vitamins have been shown to increase blood levels with a "transdermal" (skin) application, but research is not critical. These patches contain a good range of nutrients, but there is no scientific evidence for it. The same vitamins in tablet form would cost less than £ 5 a month, so unless you have a condition that influences the absorption of food, such as celiac disease, there is no additional benefit to using a patch.
Magnesium oil spray
Magnesium oil spray would relieve sore muscles and help improve sleep
Betteryou, 100 ml, £ 12.20 revital.co.uk
Claim: This is sprayed directly on the skin and would relieve sore muscles and help improve sleep. Ten sprays provide 200 mg of magnesium, 57 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
EXPERTISE: Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions – it helps to lower blood pressure, reduce muscle cramps, improve sleep quality and improve calcium uptake. Several studies have shown that it can be absorbed through the skin, including a study I conducted in 2017, which found that daily application of a magnesium cream to the skin for two weeks improved the blood levels of the mineral by more than 22 percent – more than double what you would receive from a magnesium tablet. So the claim that one syringe gives you 57 percent of your RDA seems reasonable here.
Although it is possible to increase magnesium levels by eating more green vegetables, nuts or by taking a tablet, a spray is a useful – and perhaps more effective – way to boost your intake, and it has the added benefit of hydrating skin at the same time thanks to the oil-based formula.
Magnesium bath flakes
OSI, 1kg, £ 9.99, planetorganic.com
These magnesium bath flakes are not as magnesium-rich as others on the market, and if you have two to three baths a week, it costs almost £ 40 a month
Claim: The maker says that these "highly soluble" bath salts are an effective way to increase your magnesium level. Add 250-300 g (two cups) to a warm bath and relax for 20 minutes or more. Take two to three baths a week.
EXPERTISE: There are indications that magnesium can be absorbed through the skin during bathing, but the science is not strong. Magnesium bath flakes have existed for hundreds of years in the form of Epsom salts that contain magnesium sulfate. Many of the newer forms consist of magnesium chloride, a more concentrated type, which means that you have to absorb more magnesium from it.
These flakes are a combination of both and contain other salts that do not seem to have any known benefits. For the price, they are not as magnesium-rich as others on the market, and if you have two to three baths a week, it costs almost £ 40 a month!
Omega-3 plus plasters
PatchMD, 30 patches, £ 16.95, amazon.co.uk
Each omega-3 plus patch contains 1,250 mg of omega-3 fats & # 39; to maintain normal brain function and to support vision, joints and the immune system & # 39;
Claim: Each patch contains 1,250 mg of omega-3 fats to maintain normal brain function and support vision, joints and the immune system. Apply one patch daily and wear for 8 hours.
EXPERTISE: Omega 3 plays a vital role in the functioning of the nervous system and can help keep the heart healthy. Yet many do not get enough, especially because we eat too little oily fish, which is the main source of this essential fatty acid (& # 39; essential & # 39; because our body needs it but cannot make it and therefore needs to consume it). )
People often do not adhere to omega 3 capsules because they are generally very large and difficult to swallow – and some feel that they leave a fishy aftertaste. No published research has been done into the delivery of omega 3 via a skin patch; even if particles could cross the skin barrier, there is still no evidence that the body could be used in the same way as taking omega 3 orally. But if you can't bear to eat more fish or take capsules, it may be worth trying patches.
Vitamin D3 spray
Holland & Barrett 50 ml, £ 9.99
This vitamin D3 spray must be injected into the mouth once a day
Claim: A spray with peppermint taste that the maker says it can be useful if you do not eat oily fish, are largely home-bound or tend to cover your skin when you are outside. Spray in the mouth once a day.
EXPERTISE: Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. The body creates vitamin D from sunlight on the skin, so we tend to get enough from the end of March to the end of September. Public Health England recommends a daily supplement of 10 mcg in the fall and winter.
Oral sprays provide nutrient-containing drops that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the cheeks, teeth, gums and under the tongue – theoretically the amount absorbed. Vitamin D tablets start at around £ 5.50 for a three-month delivery, so the price is almost double for the same dose. But it's probably worth it, because it needs to be absorbed better.
Ubiquinol oral spray
13.5 ml, £ 21.00, yourhealthsolutions.co.uk
Ubiquinol is a form of the nutrient coenzyme Q10
Claim: Ubiquinol is a form of the nutrient coenzyme Q10, the creator of which says it can protect cells from damage caused by & # 39; free radicals & # 39; rogue molecules associated with aging and disease. It recommends eight sprays per day to give a 40 mg dose.
EXPERTISE: There is not much evidence to support supplementation of CoQ10 or ubiquinol in healthy adults. Although it has important functions in the body, creates energy and fights cell damage and we produce less as we get older, there are few indications that older people actually have a shortage of CoQ10 or that they need more to stay healthy.
It also occurs in foods such as cabbage, chicken, beef, and broccoli. The ubiquinol absorption route is not well understood and there are no indications that it is better absorbed by a spray. This product also offers only 40 mg ubiquinol – less than half that of most common tablets, but at twice the price. The only group that can benefit from ubiquinol supplements in any form is on statins to treat high cholesterol, as it is thought that these drugs can also block the body's production of CoQ10.
B12 oral spray
Healthspan, 15 ml, £ 8.95, healthspan.co.uk
This B12 oral spray is a spray with blackcurrant flavor that contains vitamin B12 & # 39; to support immune health and energy levels & # 39;
Claim: A spray with black currant flavor that contains vitamin B12 & # 39; to support the immune system and energy level. & # 39; Up to four sprays per day under the tongue.
EXPERTISE: B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the healthy function of nerve cells and the production of red blood cells. Because it is only found in meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals, vegans run the risk of not getting enough. The recommended daily allowance in the UK is 1.5 micrograms per day.
This spray gives a dose of 250mcg and suggests a maximum of four doses per day. Although much higher than the recommended daily allowance, there is no evidence of harmful effects of large doses. Because B12 tablets can be bulky to swallow, this spray is easier to take. And for £ 8.95 for about a monthly supply, the price seems comparable to tablets.
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