Liposomes are a fast-growing delivery system but they are often misunderstood. They can (but not necessarily) deliver nano-sized particles to cells, where they easily enter to deliver nutrients inside. A liposome offers radically enhanced bioavailability, stability in the body and longer shelf life for supplements. “Liposomes make ingredients perform so much better,” said Sebastian Balcombe, CEO and founder of Specnova, a biotech innovator that markets seven different nutritional ingredients hyperpowered with liposomes. “You can make a superstar ingredient with a liposome around it.”
Specnova conducts weekly experiments at a local university to validate the liposomal advantage—up to eight times heightened bioavailability.
“It’s dramatic,” said Balcombe. “It’s the difference between an ingredient that helps a little bit versus opening the doors.”
Certain ingredients work better than others, he said, usually fat-soluble, water-insoluble ones such as curcumin, coQ10 and CBD. Certain botanicals can also help, especially ones that work at dosage levels that might cause untoward side effects like upset stomachs.
Meanwhile, other ingredients might not benefit from the bioavailability-boosting technology; namely, ingredients that consumers recognize as always having a certain dosage levels. Vitamin C cones to mind.
“Some ingredients like vitamin C, no matter how much you enhance it consumers are often still going to want to take 500mg or 1,000mg,” said Balcombe, “So it really depends on the ingredients if you’re going to down-dose it. It’s a huge advantage economically for our customers when they can down-dose an ingredient and it can almost match the same price as a non-liposomal and have way bigger effects and be way more effective.”
That makes the use of liposomal technology to improve the performance of supplements a responsibility of brands to communicate that enhanced absorption story. At the same time it can also heighten a sustainability story if a brand is able to use less of a botanical, particularly one under pressure because of sourcing issues like overharvesting.