Vitamins - only 10% absorbed from pills?

There’s an ad on the radio (BS detector is ringing…) in which some MD claims that with solid vitamin supplements, only 10% of the vitamins are absorbed by the body, the rest being excreted out. Of course he’s selling liquid vitamins, which he claims are absorbed much more efficiently.

So, what’s the straight dope on this?

I’ve heard those radio ads too, but don’t have an answer for you. One wonders, if it only absorbed 10%, why your body would just arbitrarily not absorb the other 90% (Unless you didn’t need it or your body didn’t want it for some reason, in which case, why would you be taking them anyway?) I mean ordinary vitamins make me sick to my stomach, I have to eat the kid’s vitamins with less stuff in them – so obviously my body is absorbing more than 10% of something it doesn’t like.

Though I can’t comment on your question, I’ll just point out that in that ad, they throw the vitamins in water to make their point. Perhaps someone should point out to the guys that promote these liquid vitamins that the stomache doesn’t contain water, it contains gastric juice.


Since something like 90% of a vitamin (or other pill) is corn-starch or other inert “vitamin-shape-making” material, that doesn’t surprise me. Much of a vitamin pill is there to buffer the effects of a sudden influx of vitamins and minerals into your system.

Also, jinwicked, have you tried the gentler “Allergy” vitamins. My wife likes “Twinlab Allergy Multi-caps”.

I think they can get away with saying this because most vitamins contain WAY too great a daily value of vitamins. The excess is excreted. I have a question about absorption going on right now… no one seems to know or wants to answer whether the pill form vitamin is as good as a naturally occurring one.

My biology of knowledge on this level is nil, so this just may seem silly.

I’ve read that, at least with minerals, there’s a small “pathway” in which your digestive system can take on certain minerals. It has something to do with atom chains or something. It can often get overloaded and a lot of minerals are just excreted.

Anyway, I guess they correct this by “chelating” minerals - by bonding them with other foods that are more readily absorbed by a bigger pathway.

Perhaps vitamins have a similar limitation? A small pathway can only absorb so many vitamins before they’re excreted?

Not only that, but there are several vitamins which are fat soluble, so they wouldn’t dissolve in water at all. Specifically, A,D,E, and K are all fat soluble.

It is true. Of course anything that is in liquid form will be absorbed more completely (and faster) by your body than something that is in a hard capsule form. With liquid there is nothing to break down.

Cites and proof, please! I’d like to know…

Here’s some good info on fat-soluble vitamins

10% seems like an awfully convenient number…