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how to choose a supplement

How to Choose a Supplement: Why Bioavailability is Essential to Ensure Efficacy

Updated on June 15, 2023

Article Summary

  • Although nutritional supplements can significantly enhance health and wellness, many individuals are unsure which supplements are safe and effective
  • Bioavailability is one of the most important attributes of a high-quality supplement
  • Choosing a product that is designed to safely optimize bioavailability is the first step toward realizing the benefits of nutritional supplementation

With the help of the right nutritional supplement, many individuals can experience a greater level of health and wellness than would otherwise be possible. Indeed, nutritional supplements can often successfully make up for dietary shortcomings or respond to symptoms that are not otherwise being resolved using conventional therapies

However, consumers are often confused about how to choose a supplement that will deliver meaningful benefits. Unfortunately, some nutritional supplements are often of dubious quality, and some supplements don’t contain many of the ingredients they advertise. And, even when the advertised ingredients are present, many supplements aren’t formulated in a way that allows the body to use those ingredients effectively, which means the majority of each dose will often go to waste and the user is unlikely to experience beneficial effects. 

In light of these unscrupulous industry practices, knowing how to choose a supplement that will deliver on its promises can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be if you know what to look for. In this two-part series, Tesseract will explore the fundamentals of effective supplements and how they work in the body, as well as how the quality of ingredients can make or break a product. As you begin your search for the right nutritional supplement, it is critical to understand one of the most essential beneficial attributes of nutritional supplements: bioavailability.

The Basics of Bioavailability

Bioavailability refers to the proportion of a supplement product that ultimately enters the bloodstream and produces the desired effects after consumption. This is of paramount concern for consumers because supplements formulated to achieve bioavailability will provide more benefits than will a supplement with poor bioavailability. 

The bioavailability of a given supplement varies depending on its route of administration, as well as the chemical properties of the ingredients in the supplement. While intravenously injected medicines are 100 percent bioavailable, an oral supplement typically results in bioavailability of less than 50 percent because of the digestive process and the metabolic activity of the liver. Depending on the supplement’s formulation, the bioavailability might be even lower, greatly compromising the ability to produce beneficial effects, and some ingredients might not bioavailable at all unless they’re formulated using an appropriate delivery system. 

For example, curcumin supplements universally suffer from low bioavailability unless they are specifically designed to survive the gastrointestinal tract and first-pass metabolism in the liver. 

As a nutritional supplement, curcumin is prized for its antioxidant effects and used for a diverse range of health-related reasons, including gastrointestinal health and neurological health. However, curcumin is notorious for poor oral bioavailability because of its low molecular stability, which means that a person taking a standard curcumin supplement often experiences minimal meaningful benefit. If, on the other hand, the user takes a highly bioavailable curcumin supplement, then they can derive substantial therapeutic effects with a comparatively smaller amount. 

So why don’t supplement manufacturers only create nutritional supplements that are highly bioavailable? The answer is simple: improving bioavailability is expensive. There is a high cost associated with the techniques required to manufacture a supplement in a way that enables it to survive digestion and metabolism. In fact, because achieving bioavailability is so expensive, many manufacturers cut corners while formulating their supplements to be bioavailable. 

Avoiding Harmful or Ineffective Bioavailability Enhancements

Supplement manufacturers can improve bioavailability in a variety of ways depending on the ingredients of a particular product. However, not all methods are created equal; while certain formulation strategies do indeed enhance bioavailability, they can do so while sacrificing the tolerability and safety of the product. 

For example, a curcumin supplement that is formulated using a compound like piperine might cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract. 

Piperine is an inexpensive chemical derived from black peppercorn and is responsible for the sharp flavor and aroma of pepper. Piperine can improve bioavailability because it inhibits the metabolic processes of the liver that break down molecules like curcumin, leaving those molecules intact for the body to use. Inhibiting the liver in this fashion can be dangerous because patients are far more likely to experience harm from piperine’s negative impact on the gastrointestinal tract, where it activates the pain and heat sensors of nerve cells. After the nerve cells are activated, the patient can experience inflammation, pain, leaky gut syndrome, and loose stools as a result. 

Although piperine is a particularly damaging offender as far as supplement ingredients go, most bioavailability-enhancing formulations and supplement delivery mechanisms do not share the same potential for negative side effects. Instead, some are merely ineffective or of limited use, like the Theracurmin formulation of curcumin. 

Theracurmin is designed specifically to enhance bioavailability by suspending curcumin molecules in colloidal nanoparticles that can subsequently survive oral administration. However, while Theracurmin exhibits significantly higher bioavailability than curcumin powder (which has virtually no bioavailability), its overall bioavailability remains relatively poor; one study found that doubling the supplement’s dose led to a plasma concentration that was only 25 percent higher than what was observed with the lower dose, indicating the vast majority of the curcumin was not being utilized by the body. Therefore, picking the right supplement means avoiding the pitfalls of seemingly sophisticated supplement delivery systems that fail to deliver real results. 

How to Choose a Safe Supplement Engineered for Bioavailability

Considering the prevalence of ineffective and even possibly harmful supplements, how can a consumer ensure the supplements being considered are safe and effective? Although there is no perfect method for evaluating a supplement, there are a few rules of thumb that can help you select a high-quality product. Supplements that are highly bioavailable:

  • Use a proven supplement delivery system
  • Do not contain piperine or other problematic bioavailability-enhancing substances
  • Might be more expensive than other supplements with the same active ingredient
  • Might have a lower suggested use than other supplements with the same active ingredient 

Because many delivery systems and bioavailability practices are proprietary, sticking with a reputable manufacturer is of chief importance. Supplements manufactured for Tesseract Medical Research have long been upheld as among the supplement industry’s best on account of their sophisticated bioavailability technology. By developing a safe, innovative way of optimizing bioavailability, Tesseract is able to unleash the therapeutic potential of nutrients that have historically been of limited use.

Tesseract’s strategy for achieving bioavailability has multiple components. First, Tesseract uses raw materials of the highest quality, such as tetrahydrocurcumin. In contrast to unmetabolized curcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin is naturally bioavailable because it does not need to be metabolized by the liver before it is accessible to the body. Additionally, Tesseract encapsulates the ingredients in its supplements in a specialized delivery system that can weather exposure to stomach acids, preventing loss of bioavailability during digestion. 

Only after digestion and passage through the liver does the delivery system degrade, safely dispensing the tetrahydrocurcumin into the bloodstream. After the supplemented nutrient is in the bloodstream, it can exert its physiological effects and help the user achieve their intended health and wellness goal. Because Tesseract’s delivery system is based on nanomaterials constructed out of sugars, it is hypoallergenic and extremely unlikely to cause side effects, which is especially critical for individuals who are usually sensitive.

Today, Tesseract supplements lead the market as a result of their verified ingredients, high bioavailability, and advanced delivery system. Thanks to deep experience enhancing the bioavailability of historically challenging ingredients like curcumin, butyric acid, and glutathione, Tesseract is uniquely positioned to provide consumers with supplements that work. For a consumer seeking the right supplement, there’s no better place to start than with Tesseract’s products. 

Tesseract Medical Research is dedicated to exploring innovative options for addressing a broad range of health concerns, including those related to gastrointestinal and neurological health.*

Works Cited

  1. Berry S. 2015. The Sydney Morning Herald
  2. Nelson KM, Dahlin JL, Bisson J, et al. 2017. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 8(5):467-470
  3. Dudhatra GM, Mody SK, Awale MM, et al. 2012. The Scientific World Journal
  4. Sasaki H, Sunagawa Y, Takahashi K, et al. 2011. Biological Pharmacy Bulletin. 34(5):660-665
  5. Kanai M, Otsuka Y, Otsuka K, et al. 2013. Cancer and Chemotherapy Pharmacology. 71(6):1521-1530.

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

The advanced formulations based on our revolutionary, patented, and patent-pending technology are only available through Tesseract. No other medical, pharmaceutical, or supplement company is licensed to utilize our proprietary technology.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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