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Powder Packs, Vitamin IVs and The Many New Ways to Take Supplements

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vitamin ivsIt used to be that taking your vitamins involved swallowing a few tablets each day—or maybe just one, if you’re a multivitamin devotee. But as the supplement industry continues to explode, new ways to take these dietary must-haves are quickly arriving on the scene.

Gone are the days of chalky tablets. Today’s wellness enthusiasts have more ways than ever to take their supplements. And although some are more effective than others, they’re all worth knowing about—if only for a glimpse into where this mega trending industry might evolve to next.

Supplement sprays

 Supplement sprays promise to deliver the benefits, and potency, of vitamin tablets through a few spritzes taken either in the mouth or on the skin.

This should be able to speed up that all-important absorption, at least in theory. Whereas pills have to be digested, vitamin sprays taken in the mouth or on the skin are typically absorbed in much higher amounts. Why? Because they can bypass the maze and complexity of the human digestive system. Sprays can often be more natural; just check the brand you choose to make sure it doesn’t include the same kind of fillers often found in pills.

With magnesium in particular, oils and lotions have been shown to be more effective than pill forms. We need more research on how sprays in particular affect vitamin and mineral absorption, but in all, this trend does show some actual promise. (And let’s be honest: who doesn’t want an alternative to the taste of chalky vitamin tablets?)

 Melt-in-your-mouth supplements

At the massive Vitafoods Trade Show, one of the industry’s largest annual events, a Spanish manufacturer debuted yet another innovative way to get your minerals: an iron stick that melts in your mouth. The product is marketed toward moms-to-be, who require increased amounts of iron during pregnancy. Nearly 50% of pregnant women don’t get enough iron through diet alone.

Although still in prototype form, the company says its iron stick helps pregnant women get more of this essential mineral, minus the unappealing iron taste. And it does so without any artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Powdered vitamins

If Pixy Sticks and Flintstone’s Vitamins had a baby, this would be it. And in fact, the new powdered vitamins hitting the market look a lot like that powdered sugary stick candy of our childhood.

Care/of, one of the brands fueling the current personalized vitamins craze, launched its line of powdered vitamins a few months ago to much fanfare. The powdered vitamins currently come in five varieties—Chill Factor and Extra Batteries, for instance—and are said to require no water for absorption. Simply tear the packet open, pour the powder in your mouth and let it dissolve.

Stay tuned for more research into the effectiveness of this supplement delivery form.

 IV supplements

 IVs are most associated with cures for a hangover or dehydration. But Rihanna wasn’t seeking either of those benefits when she hooked herself up to an IV last month. Instead, the singer was receiving a solution of vitamins and minerals.

One of the main perks of going the IV route is to pump one vitamin, or a mix of vitamins, directly into your veins for quicker absorption. These treatments have been shown anecdotally to deliver an almost immediate surge of energy, plus other health benefits related to the particular vitamin. Some studies have shown the effectiveness of administering certain vitamin cocktails for patients with particular diseases.

In our “instant gratification” culture, it’s not surprising that vitamin IVs are quickly catching on. Many companies now offer vitamin drips from the comfort of your own home. These treatments can cost upwards of $250 and include saline (the traditional IV fluid used for rehydration), plus customized mixes of vitamins like B Complex and Vitamin C.

Are IV supplements safe? Generally speaking, they’re safe in the short-term when administered by a professional. But studies haven’t yet shown whether this method is effective or safe for long-term use, so don’t forego the fruits, veggies and old-school vitamins just yet.

 Vitamin vaping

 Vaping has quickly caught on as an alternative to smoking. But the latest substance to put into your vape pen isn’t cannabis or tobacco; for many, it’s vitamins.

One vape brand lets you inhale 500 micrograms of B12 per capsule. Others offer a full range of vitamin and essential oil diffuser sticks. But despite the popularity and potential “cool” factor, don’t switch to this method yet. Between outdated studies and meager scientific research on the effects of vitamin vaping, the evidence is weak at best.

 Chocolate supplements

Move over, gummies. To entice kids to hit their daily vitamin quotas, manufacturers are now turning to the ultimate sweet-tooth satisfier: chocolate. These chocolate supplements are designed to offer kid-friendly doses and come in probiotics, sleep, multivitamin and other varieties.

Adult gummies

Gummy vitamins haven’t completely gone the way of the dinosaur. Instead, they’ve been taken up a notch by going adult friendly. One brand that’s been working on nootropic blends recently launched Go Cubes, which claim to deliver the benefits of a cup of coffee in the form of a gummy.

 Clear vitamins

Granted, there’s nothing all that new about clear vitamins. But now that Instagram and other digital media are driving significant sales—more than 40% of shoppers now buy their supplements online—brands are using the visual factor to capture Millennial appeal.

Ritual, another personalized vitamin brand, sells a single woman’s multivitamin with nine ingredients. The real eye-catcher? The bottle is clear, and so are the capsules themselves. Each ingredient sits within the capsule in a tiny sphere, and the brand’s oil technology claims to keep wet and dry ingredients in their desired individual states. Not surprisingly, these clear capsules filled with tiny white vitamin beads have been taking over Instagram.

How will we be taking our vitamins and minerals a few years from now? It’s too early to tell whether some of these trends have staying power. But one thing is for sure: by offering more safe ways to take supplements, the market is opening the doors for even more growth. And if those methods increase absorption without other health risks, we’re all in.

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