Selected Podcast

Ask Dr. Mike: Liquid vs. Powdered Vitamins & Best Supplements for Diabetics

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans.

Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

I see that Life Extension published an article on liquid vitamin D. Can you review it? Is it best to take liquid formulations of all vitamins?

In this study, researchers switched participants from a capsule form of vitamin D to a soft gel liquid formulation. Researchers found a 28.5 increase in blood levels in healthy adults who had previously been taking 5,000 units of a dry powdered form, but switched to the liquid form.

For the second part of the question, Dr. Mike is a little unsure if liquid formulations of all vitamins is the best way to get your vitamin intake. Dr. Mike thinks it varies from person to person.

Can you list the top three or four supplements for diabetes?
  • Cinnamon
  • Lipoic acid
  • Chromium
  • Soluble fiber
  • Green tea extract
  • Green coffee bean extract

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 12, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

You're listening to RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk. Call or email to ask your questions now. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR MIKE: So, I have a question about liquid vitamins and specifically, liquid vitamin D.

"I see that Life Extension published a study on the liquid vitamin D. Can you review it and is it best to take liquid formulation of all vitamins?"

Let's review this study first. We did publish this at Life Extension, so let's review this study on at least a liquid form of vitamin D and the result and then I'll answer the question about liquid formulations in general. So, again, at Life Extension we have a clinical research division and we did this study where we switched some people from a capsule form of vitamin D to a soft gel liquid formulation, a lipid-based formulation containing 5000 units of vitamin D3.

What we found with this liquid formulation was a 28.5% increase in vitamin D blood levels among healthy adults who had been taking 5000 units, international units, of a dry powder. So, just to kind of summarize it, again, when we switched the group of people from... which is probably the most common way people get vitamin D because most people don't take a stand-alone vitamin D, by the way. Most people take it within a multivitamin.

So ,whether it's in the dry powder of a multiple vitamin tablet or capsule or it's in its own vitamin D little capsule when you switch over, at least in our study when we switched over from the dry powder to the liquid form, the increase in vitamin D blood levels is incredibly significant--about 28%. The actual title of this study that we published was, "An Open Label Study to Evaluate the Effect of 5000 International Units of Vitamin D3 on Serum 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D Levels Among Healthy Adults", and we presented this at the Experimental Biology Scientific Conference in Boston at the end of March. So, our scientists...We have a doctor or director of clinical research Dr. Hirsch, Dr. Huber, Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Joel, who is our chief medical officer, they all were involved in this and the results, I think, quite honestly surprised all of them. It surprised me when they showed me the results.

So, that's a pretty significant jump. I mean, you're talking about a 28% improvement in blood levels in vitamin D just by going to a liquid formulation. So, again, based on this one study, it looks like we need to look more into a liquid formulation, or at least maybe the fat soluble vitamins. Back to the other question, though, does this mean we should be taking liquid forms of all the vitamins? Is it the liquid form that allows better absorption of these micronutrients? I say that sometimes just so my listeners know.

A macronutrient that's your carbs, your fat. The micronutrient are the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants oils, that kind of stuff. So, in this case, you know, it does seems that at least with vitamin D, the liquid form is better, but does that mean that all liquid formulations are better? Because that's the next part of this question. Is it best to take a liquid formulation of all vitamins? I just don't have the answer to that. I think that it is probably more individual.

I mean, I've been taking a dry powder multivitamin and I know it works well for me. How do I know that? Well, the best way to know whether you are absorbing a multivitamin, whether it's liquid or powder form, is your urine. You don't have to test it, just look at it. If you're doing a multivitamin and there are B vitamins in that multivitamin--and there should be--your urine should look quite yellow even kind of neon yellowish.

It should be quite bright. That's a good sign, you know. Some people make the mistake and say "Oh, if you take a multivitamin, you're just creating expensive urine" Well, that's not true. You actually are getting the metabolites and the leftover stuff into your urine. That means you are absorbing it. That means the nutrients are going from your gut to your bloodstream, then your cells use them. Then the metabolites, the wastes from all that, eventually make it out to your urine. One of the wastes, by the way, are the B vitamin pigments. B vitamins have a natural very yellowish orangish type pigment and you see that in your urine. For me, I take a powdered form of a multivitamin and my urine is quite bright yellow after I'm done taking it.

So, to me that means I'm absorbing those nutrients pretty well. So, for me, I think a powder is fine. Also, I take a powder vitamin D and my blood levels are awesome, so it works for me. I'm not going to make the switch, but if you're having some issues, if you take a multivitamin and it's a powder form and your urine's not changing... Another way to tell if the multivitamin is working is to look at your nails and hair. Is it improving a little bit? That's a good sign it's working. If not, maybe you do need to switch over to another formulation like a liquid form. So, I think on this one study, in general, liquid forms of at least the fat soluble vitamins are probably better. Does that mean you have to switch over to all liquid forms? No. I think that really has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis and the best place to start is your urine.

Okay. My next question comes from a listener, her name is Anne. She's asking:

"Can you list the top three or four supplements for diabetes?"

These are always hard questions. So, when I first answered this question for Anne, here's what I wrote down. I just started writing. I wrote down lipoic acid, chromium, cinnamon, soluble fibers. Lipoic acid, the best form is R-lipoic acid.

I don't want to get into Alpha lipoic acid versus R-lipoic acid, but R- lipoic acid is the best form. Lipoic acid helps with insulin sensitivity. It's also an important antioxidant that protects from the high level of oxidative stress that sugar causes. So, it helps to protect cells and tissue from excess sugar. Chromium, classic, classic mineral that improves sugar metabolism. Cinnamon, same thing. With cinnamon, it needs to be water based, water soluble, whole cinnamon has oils in it that kind of disrupt the normal water-based nutrients that give you the sugar benefit. So, if you're going to do an extract of cinnamon, it needs to be water-based. Soluble fibers, these are fibers that are able to kind of just soak up fats and sugar more. They form these gels in your gut so it decreases sugar absorption.

A lot of great research on one called propolmannan. I think that's probably one of the top-of-the-line soluble fibers out there, propolmannan. So, those are the four, Anne, that I wrote down, just without thinking, just right off the top of my head. Of course, I forgot some key ones. Green tea extract is good, green coffee bean extract with chlorogenic acid is awesome for many different reasons. Sorghum bran and phlorizin, which comes from apple root. White kidney bean extract, brown... I mean there's so many more that I could I could list, but I guess, you know, Anne, I just have to stick with what I wrote down first. Lipoic acid, chromium, cinnamon, soluble fiber, propolmannan.

You know, you're asking this question, so I don't know if you have diabetes or a family member has diabetes. Something else that is helpful is eating a protein snack at night like egg, nuts, stuff like that. Protein at night controls sugar in the morning, so that's a good tip for you. Alright, there you go, hope that helps.

This is Healthy Talk on Radio M.D.

I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.