The Unique Benefits of Enteric-Coated Multivitamins
Have you taken an Aspirin lately? If you have, you may have noticed that Aspirin tablets are now enteric-coated. This is because acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient of Aspirin, can upset your stomach and enteric coating helps prevent that.
What is enteric coating?
You can think of an enteric coating like a thin armor that protects the vitamins and minerals from the acid they encounter when the supplement tablet enters your stomach.
Why is this important?
Since some nutrients are destroyed or damaged by the acidic environment in your stomach, this reduces the overall effectiveness of the supplement. An enteric coating ensures these sensitive nutrients are not damaged and can be properly absorbed by your body.
How does enteric coating work in the case of multivitamins?
To explain how enteric coating works, I need to give you a quick Biology 101 refresher. Here it goes… When you swallow a multivitamin tablet, it journeys down the esophagus (also known as your “food pipe”) and it ends up in your stomach. The job of the stomach is to break down food and other ingested substances into small particles with the help of the stomach acids.
Once broken down these particles then proceed to the intestines, where the useful nutrients pass through the abdominal walls and are absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in your blood stream they can be delivered to any organ, tissue or cell that needs these nutrients. At the same time, the unabsorbed fragments of the enteric coating continue down to the colon and are discarded through your stool.
Stomach acid damages certain nutrients in your multivitamin
This process works well most of the time. However, when you take a multivitamin tablet there could be some undesirable side effects. For example some of the active ingredients may be weakened or destroyed by the stomach acid, thereby reducing the absorption rate of the multivitamin nutrients.
Enteric coating improves nutrient bioavailability
This is where covering multivitamin tablets with enteric coating can help. Enteric coating makes the tablets resistant to stomach acid, so the tablet passes through your stomach unaffected by the corrosive effect of the acids. The tablet then proceeds to the intestines, where the enteric coating dissolves in response to the more alkaline environment and safely releases all active ingredients.
The advantage of this approach is that all active ingredients arrive in the intestines intact and can be assimilated into the blood stream. This results in a much higher vitamin and mineral absorption rate and a greater beneficial effect.
In addition to improving nutrient bioavailability, an enteric coating offers a number of additional unique advantages:
Prevents stomach upset
Many people get an upset stomach when they take conventional multivitamins. This is because minerals such as zinc and iron, irritate your stomach lining and cause nausea, heartburn or stomach cramps. An enteric-coated tablet enables these nutrients to bypass the stomach all together and as a result your stomach will not get upset.
Makes tablets easier to swallow
Due to their smoother surface, most people find that enteric-coated multivitamins are easier to swallow than those that do not have such coating.
Eliminates unpleasant aftertaste
Enteric coated multivitamins do not have the unpleasant aftertaste associated with uncoated vitamin supplements. This is because the nutrients get released much deeper into your digestive tract, making it impossible for them to get in touch with your taste receptors or cause bad odor.
Makes timed release of nutrients possible
In some cases enteric coating technology is used to slow the release of the vitamins in your system, such as in the case of timed-release formulations. Slowing the release of the active ingredients in your digestive tract may help increase the overall absorption of these nutrients.
Enables sensitive enzymes to survive
The special coating allows vitamin supplement manufacturers to add nutritional enzymes to the multivitamins in order to help your body use the nutrients more effectively in order to make new immune cells and other tissues in your body. If the supplement makers did not coat the supplement, stomach acid would destroy the enzymes before your body could use them.
What ingredients do manufacturers use to make the enteric coating?
The makers of high-quality vitamin supplements use plant fibers, natural waxes, and fatty acids to create the biologically inactive polymers that form the enteric coating.
Here are the ingredients used in making a natural high-quality enteric coating that is FDA approved:
The above ingredients have been recognized as safe and supplements that use these ingredients do not cause any side effects.
Which supplement manufacturers offer enteric-coated multivitamins?
Covering multivitamin tablets with an enteric coating is a complex and expensive process. Because of that few manufacturers choose to go the extra distance and add it to their supplements, although they know it will improve their nutrient absorption rate.
In my experience less than 5% of the multivitamins available on the market currently have such coating. Two great multivitamin supplements that are enteric-coated are Vitalizer Gold by Shaklee and Total Balance by Xtend-Life.
Not coincidentally these two products are on top of our list of recommended multivitamins. Xtend-Life and Shaklee are companies that invest a lot of money into R&D and constantly look for ways to make their supplements better.
If you don’t feel any noticeable health benefits from taking your current multivitamins or if you suffer from an upset stomach when taking supplements, taking an enteric-coated multivitamin is recommended.