Initial Posting: 6/23/2018    Last Update: 6/23/2018
Question: Are liquid vitamins better than pills?
Answer: There are pros and cons to liquid vitamins.
A benefit of a liquid is that you avoid the risk that an improperly made pill will not break apart and fully release its ingredients. ConsumerLab subjects the tablets and caplets it reviews to a disintegration test for this reason and has come across many pills that don't break apart at all or, more often, only partially break apart. For example, in 2017, multivitamins from two different companies failed to break apart fully after 30 minutes (the required time as per the U.S. Pharmacopeia) and still had not fully disintegrated after another 30 minutes.
Another issue avoided with liquids is the trouble some people (particularly young children and older adults) have with swallowing tablets or capsules.
Having a supplement in liquid form also makes it easier to modify the dose. For example, if a supplement, like vitamin D liquid drops or a fish oilliquid, is being shared among family members, it is very easy to give each person their specific dose by changing the number of drops or fraction of a teaspoon that you administer.
Some ingredients in supplements are hygroscopic, i.e., they attract water, and pills containing them can quickly become "wet" from moisture in the air. Magnesium chloride a good example of this, but it is also the preferred form if you need to take high-dose magnesium as it is less likely to cause diarrhea than other forms. It is therefore better to take magnesium chloride as a liquid than as a pill. See our Magnesium Supplements Review for our Top Picks for magnesium supplements, including magnesium chloride.
A risk of a liquid is that some ingredients are less stable in a liquid environment, resulting in a loss of ingredient over time. This is of particular concern with vitamins such as vitamin Cand folic acid. ConsumerLab has also come across this problem with creatine supplements, where creatine breaks down to creatinine.
You will also need a pill form rather than a liquid if you need to delay the absorption (such as with a timed-release melatonin), or are trying to deliver the ingredient intact to the intestine without being digested in the stomach, such as with some enteric-coatedprobiotics and fish oils.
Some liquid supplements may require refrigeration making it difficult to take with you during the day or when travelling.
Learn more about vitamins and supplements in liquids, powders and gummies: