Encapsulation of nutrients with Liposomal Encapsulation Technology is of great interest among scientists and researchers at micro and nano levels. This unique technique is based on entrapping one substance within another material. Currently, lipid sphere based encapsulation methods are one of the superior choices for encapsulation of certain sensitive ingredients like dietary supplements for therapeutic purposes. Liposome and nanoliposome techniques are playing a great role in the nutrition industry these days for nutrient enrichment and supplementation. Initially, this technology was limited only till high dose drug deliveries in the medical world. It's highly appreciable success rate has made it popular in the nutrition market also.
Keeping it very simple, at a very minute scale, Liposomes are the transport buses which provide the required nutrients to the smallest units of the body i.e. cells. These are actually fat bubbles. This cell transportation mechanism is the basis of the Liposome Encapsulation Technology. This technology uses fat vacuoles (tiny bubbles) i.e. liposomes to carry desired nutrients to the target region.
Higher bioavailability and ability to reach cells in intact form enables Liposomal supplements to stand superior to regular nutritional supplements. It also provides essential phospholipids which can be used by the body cells for their cell membrane repair.
Liposomes have bilayer membranes resembling that of the target cell’s cell membrane by possessing a similar phospholipid arrangement. These phospholipids have hydrophilic heads (water loving) and hydrophobic (water hating) fatty acid tails. Later on the heads/tail connects with the hydrophilic/hydrophobic part of plasma membrane phospholipids of target cells depending upon the nature of medium.
The liposomes are actually the vacuolar microscopic structures which are enclosed within the selectively permeable phospholipid bilayer. These phospholipids are head and tail structures arranged in an amazing pattern which allows the safe delivery of liposomal constituents to the target cells. When the medium is water based, the hydrophilic i.e. water loving heads move outwards and the hydrophobic i.e. water hating fatty acid tails move inwards maintaining the bilayer integrity and vice versa when the medium is fat soluble. This adaptive arrangement of phospholipid bilayer allows easy passage of liposomal formulations through the small intestinal walls in order to reach the bloodstream and provide maximum bioavailability of the constituent nutrient.
Many theories state different mechanisms behind the nutrient delivery system of liposomes. According to one theory, the liposomes carrying desired nutrients undergo degradation in the liver as the liposomal phospholipids undergo lysis like fats, causing nutrient release. Another theory states that the cells are in the constant state of repair so they keep requiring phospholipids for their plasma membrane or other structure repair. For this purpose, they catch liposomes. Therefore liposomes empty their constituents into the cells and the cell’s need for phospholipids is also fulfilled from liposomal membrane.
It is most likely that both the processes might be carrying out liposomal burst and nutrient release. Currently, it has been scientifically accepted that the liposomal encapsulation is providing maximum nutrient bioavailability among all the oral nutrient preparations.
If the person is consuming the liposome encapsulated preparations, then these liposomes get absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine and reach to the destination cells preventing much gastric distress. After reaching target cells, they empty their ingredients directly into the intracellular fluid i.e. cytoplasm. That’s why the bioavailability of the liposomal supplements is better than the oral pills.
It was proven by a study that when both the conventional Vitamin C form and Liposomal Vitamin C form were taken equally (4gms), the body uptake of Liposomal Vitamin C was twice as that of conventional Vitamin C form. So, one can consume the enclosed nutrient even in high doses.