Vitamins and minerals can be consumed in a variety of ways, including capsules, liquid solutions, sprays, injections and through IV drip. These methods, for many reasons, are not always the most effective means of consuming multivitamins and minerals. Transdermal multivitamin patches, the innovative new method making its way into the industry, may provide a solution to this issue.
Transdermal patches deliver medication through the skin via the application of a small patch. Well-known examples include nicotine, contraceptive, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches.
So, why choose transdermal patches over oral or intravenous administration?
Transdermal patches offer several advantages over more common methods of administering medication:
Smooth, continuous delivery
Patches allow slow release of medication into the body which may improve patient adherence. Release time can vary from between 24 hours to 1 week. Oral alternatives, on the other hand, provide a concentrated dose of medication in one short burst. This may lead to irregular or incomplete absorption, reducing the effectiveness of the medication.
By avoiding the digestive system, medication delivered through transdermal patches evades the effects of first-pass metabolism. Research suggests the bioavailability of medication delivered through transdermal patches is improved in comparison to that of medication delivered via tablet or capsule (1).
Transdermal patches may also improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals in individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, whereby a section of the small intestine is removed. Vitamin B12 in particular is typically absorbed in the small intestine, meaning patients are at risk of deficiency when consuming vitamin B12-containing foods or supplements orally.
Reduced risk of adverse side effects and drug-to-drug interactions
Transdermal patches offer lower peak concentrations, reducing the risk of adverse side effects. By avoiding the digestive system, medication delivered via patch may also reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting (2).
Likewise, medications delivered through patch are less likely to come into contact and interact with medications administered orally. Most medications are metabolised in the intestine, and interactions occurring here may alter the effectiveness of one or both medications.
So, do transdermal multivitamin patches work?
As a relatively novel technique in multivitamin supplementation, research into the efficacy of transdermal multivitamin patches is limited. However, initial research suggests promising results for the use of transdermal patches in multivitamin administration (3). The pilot study investigated the effectiveness of patches in comparison to traditional oral administration for individuals who had undergone gastric bypass surgery. Results suggest that after three months of treatment, no deficiencies were found for individuals using the patch. No significant differences were found in vitamin and mineral levels between individuals receiving multivitamins through the patch or the oral alternative. This indicates that a multivitamin transdermal patch may be a viable option for those of us averse to other methods of delivery.
Transdermal multivitamin patches may be for you if you struggle to swallow tablets or you have a fear of needles. Maybe you are looking for increased bioavailability and absorption of your vitamins or perhaps you are simply seeking an easy, fuss-free means of obtaining all your recommended daily vitamins and minerals. If so, transdermal multivitamin patches may just be the missing piece in your wellbeing routine.