What is liposomal vitamin C and why is it different from other vitamin C supplements?

Those of you who follow me will know that I got very interested in liposomal vitamin C a couple of years ago when a brand called Altrient put me through a trial to see whether taking lots of their particular vitamin C would actually improve my skin.

Much to my amazement, it absolutely did (you can read all about that experience here) and, needless to say, I’ve been a big fan of that ever since. But, what is liposomal vitamin C and how is Altrient different to other brands of vitamin C you can buy in the health food shops?

What makes Altrient so special?

The vitamin C within Altrient is what’s known as sodium ascorbate, (a mineral-salt form of ascorbic acid) which is wrapped up (using a patented method) in tiny fatty particles called “liposomes”. Why does this matter? Well, these liposomes work as a protective shield which means that, rather than breaking up and wreaking havoc in your stomach, the vitamin C in Altrient is whisked safely through to the gut and absorbed by your bloodstream and made available to your body’s cells in a way that normal vitamin C is not.

To put it into perspective, you would absorb 10-20% from your average high-street vitamin C whereas with Altrient you absorb 98%.

I sat down with Dr Thomas Levy, a board-certified cardiologist in the USA who has been researching high-dosage vitamin C for 20 years, to talk to him about liposomes and why Altrient is such a game-changer.

Alice Hart-Davis: Dr Levy, thank you so much for speaking with me. I want to talk to you about liposomal supplements, which I only found out about a few years ago and which I know you have studied extensively, and to talk about the kind of supplements that consumers can find, the differences between them and which you regard as the best and why.

Dr Thomas Levy: Liposome supplements are actually a fascinating technology. I’ve been a consultant to Live on Labs (the brand is known as Altrient in England and Live on Labs in the United States) for 15 years but only because their product blew me away.

I wasn’t even interested in it until I ended up taking some and getting over a flu more quickly than I’d ever gotten over a flu in my life. I said “mmm, maybe you need to research liposomes a little more carefully” and that began the saga, if you will.

Let me just say before I go on that buyer beware. I wrote an article on this, my website is peakenergy.com. There is more fraud in liposomal supplements than any other type of supplement I have seen. They just slap the word on the bottle and basically say, “We are going to make as much money as we can until and if we get called down on it, then we will stop”. Unfortunately, too many people want to make too much money and really have no significant ethics because taking those liposomal quote unquote products deprives somebody , an advanced cancer patient etc, of the true benefits of real liposome C.

But, what real liposome C does, it is literally like an artificial cell, even though you have constructed it outside the body, it has got the same cell membrane, the same physical membrane that’s in the cells of your body so when you take it, your absorb virtually all of it. It goes into and around the lymphatic system, into the bloodstream, throughout the body, but, rather than get quickly excreted, like intravenous vitamin C (which is un-encapsulated), does, these liposomes go up to the cells and merge into the cell wall by a process called reverse pinocytosis and deposit their contents inside or, they pass through one of the tiny pores in the cells directly and do the same thing to any of the intracellular organelles, the mitochondrial, the endoplasmic reticulum, you name it.

You are getting the delivery, of an energy-producing substance without consuming energy and this is why when you just have regular vitamin C in the blood, even if you got it intravenous, you still need to consume energy to get it inside the cell, and this is probably the major reason why a true liposome supplement is so incredibly valuable clinically

Is there any value to  high street brands of vitamin C supplements?

AHD: And what about the more standard type of water soluble supplements that we get in high street health food shops? Do those have any value? I know they are not absorbed so well as liposomes and they don’t deliver such quantities and they have more potential for upsetting the gut, but do those have a role as well?

TL: Sure, absolutely. I mean, regular oral forms of vitamin C were curing a lot of infections and making a lot of diseases better long before liposomes came along and long before intravenous became popularised. The thing there though is its less absorption and rapid excretion, so, once you keep those two things in mind, for example you start to get a cold or the flu or you are feeling bad, you don’t take 10 or 15mg all at once because you just cause diarrhoea, you take a gram or two every hour, every hour, every hour, every hour, and that way you’ll get a good percentage of each dose absorbed and you’ll rapidly get on top of whatever infection or toxin exposure that you’re dealing with.

It is very effective and it’s not to be dismissed at all, not even close. There are a lot of great things and a lot of different diseases, it is just that if you have the availability to have a good quality liposome supplement, it just makes it easier because taking a liposome supplement once a day, because the vitamin C effectively gets trapped if you will inside the cells, it’s kind of like a long acting form of vitamin C, whereas the other ones you just have to take, if you want optimal effect, you got to take them every three or four hours all day long.

AHD: Ok, terrific, because the standard medical wisdom here is that increasing the amount of vitamin C you take is simply a way to make expensive urine but with the liposomes they’re going to embed themselves that much better in the cell so obviously you’re far better off?

But I can buy other brands cheaper online…why is Altrient so expensive? 

AHD: Whenever I mention liposomal vitamin C at all or talk about Altrient in particular, I will get messages in from people saying “Oh you don’t need to buy that, you can get it much cheaper types on the internet”.

TL: Yep you can, you can get much cheaper products called absolutely (laughing).

AHD: I’m sticking with the one I know.

TL: Let’s make it clear, it is a pricier supplement because there’s a lot of technology in producing a quality liposome supplement that is stable, that is tested, that has consistent quality and that is why the profit margin is so much smaller on that. These other companies that are making these products, they can put a dollar’s worth of product in there and charge $30 for the bottle. A true liposome product is going to have about $11 or $12 in that bottle charging the same price, so, that is part of what spurred this movement is that everybody saw, initially LiveOn Labs 15 years ago in the United States literally skyrocket in appeal to the public and  everybody wanted to and has tried to jump on that bandwagon ever since without having the slightest idea what a liposome is or how to properly produce it.

Disclosures: Dr Levy is a consultant to LiveOn Labs who make Altrient. I have added Altrient to the shop on my website because I know what it can do. I still spend over £1,000 a year on the product because my family and I get through so much of the stuff.