PDA

View Full Version : Why do vitamin pills have so much binder?



Siguy
2012-Jul-25, 04:04 AM
I just took a 1000μg B12 vitamin supplement. It was a pink, round tablet, about a centimeter in diameter. Not the largest pill I've ever seen, but still larger than a lot of other pills, especially considering it only contained 1 milligram of active ingredient, the vast majority of its mass being filler.

I read somewhere that vitamin pills are notoriously indigestible, even causing problems for sewage waste management. Since many Americans take multiple vitamin supplements daily, thousands of tons of biologically inert compounds get flushed down the toilet, which eventually pose an environmental hazard.

Now, nobody likes swallowing gargantuan pills if they don't have to. Particularly not pills they take every day. For things which only require a few milligrams of supplement, why have anything larger than an aspirin tablet? Is it because we've grown to expect vitamins to be a certain shape, color, and size?

Noclevername
2012-Jul-25, 05:23 AM
I have a bottle of vitamins that actually says on the cover "Smaller tablet!" as if leaving out filler was an accomplishment. It's still a giant horse-pill, of course.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jul-25, 12:46 PM
I wonder if it has something to do with how fast it dissolves to allow for a more "spread out" absorption.

I know for some supplements, your body will not allow for an overabsorption. By spreading out the locations and timing of the release, you have more of a chance of absorbing it as the body chemistry fluctuates.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-25, 03:42 PM
Are you referring to mechanical binders or chemical binders? One is used to hold the pill together in pill shape. the other may be needed to maintain the presence of the vitamin and keep it stable and yet biologically available during digestion. From what I recall, spinach is supposed to have a lot of iron, but it's kinda massy where a ball of powdered iron may have less mass and be denser.

Trebuchet
2012-Jul-25, 03:46 PM
It may well be a marketing gimmick -- people tend to think they're getting more if the product is larger.

Siguy
2012-Jul-25, 04:23 PM
It may well be a marketing gimmick -- people tend to think they're getting more if the product is larger.
Which I also presume is why it's labeled as 1000mcg rather than 1mg.

You know, the logical extension of this is that someday, LSD-25 will be legal, but nobody will be able to take it because it will only come in 100mcg pills the size of footballs.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-25, 04:26 PM
Which I also presume is why it's labeled as 1000mcg rather than 1mg.

You know, the logical extension of this is that someday, LSD-25 will be legal, but nobody will be able to take it because it will only come in 100mcg pills the size of footballs.

I suddenly have this mental image of druggies desperately gnawing on sports equipment... "One of these has got to work!"

Swift
2012-Jul-25, 05:42 PM
Are you referring to mechanical binders or chemical binders? One is used to hold the pill together in pill shape. the other may be needed to maintain the presence of the vitamin and keep it stable and yet biologically available during digestion. From what I recall, spinach is supposed to have a lot of iron, but it's kinda massy where a ball of powdered iron may have less mass and be denser.
I suspect there is a considerable amount of mechanical binder. I would expect that chemical stablizers would be in relative small quantities, nominally of the same order as the active ingredient. I also suspect there is a coating material on it, to keep out moisture and make a smooth surface that is easier to swollow.

Gillianren
2012-Jul-25, 05:45 PM
I switched vitamins not long ago. The first new vitamins I started taking came in gel caps. I haven't compared the nutrition information, but I got different vitamins from the same company, and not only do they come in tablets (which don't start smelling rancid!), the tablets are smaller. Now, I'll have to be extra careful when I get a replacement bottle of these!

Trebuchet
2012-Jul-25, 06:18 PM
My wife, who has significant swallowing problems, uses gummy vitamins. She likes Costco's brand.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-25, 07:24 PM
I suspect there is a considerable amount of mechanical binder. I would expect that chemical stablizers would be in relative small quantities, nominally of the same order as the active ingredient. I also suspect there is a coating material on it, to keep out moisture and make a smooth surface that is easier to swollow.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2007-09-23-your-health_N.htm
This article helps explain some.

Another issue is molding equipment. If a company had a different set of tool & die for every pill size, it might get expensive in time and money. And it's not just the size of the molds, but all the other pill handling mechanisms that get the pill from mold to bottle.

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Vitamin.html

Vitamin tablets or capsules usually contain additives that aid in the manufacturing process or in how the vitamin pill is accepted by the body. Microcrystalline cellulose, lactose, calcium, or malto-dextrin are added to many vitamins as a filler, to give the vitamin the proper bulk. Magnesium stearate or stearic acid is usually added to vitamin tablets as a lubricant, and silicon dioxide as a flow agent. These additives help the vitamin powder run smoothly through the tablet-making or encapsulating machine. Modified cellulose gum or starch is often added to vitamins as a disintegration agent. That is, it helps the vitamin compound break up once it is ingested. Vitamin tablets are also usually coated, to give the tablets a particular color or flavor, or to determine how the tablet is absorbed (in the stomach versus in the intestine, slowly versus all at once, etc.). Many coatings are made from a cellulose base. An additional coating of carnauba wax is often put on as well, to give the tablet a polished appearance.

Gillianren
2012-Jul-25, 08:41 PM
My wife, who has significant swallowing problems, uses gummy vitamins. She likes Costco's brand.

Costco's brand is pretty good, according to Consumer Reports. But they don't make the variety of vitamin I have switched to.

Luckmeister
2012-Jul-26, 02:21 AM
My "vitamin pill" is a 16 oz glass of juice I make daily from 8 to 10 fresh fruits and veggies (I steam a few veggies as well). With that plus a little carefully chosen meat, nuts, grains and dairy (and of course daily aerobic exercise), I have no need or desire to feed the pill industry. This all takes some time but I'm retired so what the heck.

Oh, and lots of pure artesian spring water that starts high in the Cascade Mountains and surfaces two blocks from my house (the local water utility monitors it for safety). I don't cook with or drink chemically processed municipal water.

Don't you just hate smug creeps like me? But it took me a number of years and a few health problems to finally wise up and start taking care of myself.

Gillianren
2012-Jul-26, 03:46 AM
I bet you don't vomit whenever you eat things you don't like, too.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-26, 03:58 AM
My "vitamin pill" is a 16 oz glass of juice I make daily from 8 to 10 fresh fruits and veggies (I steam a few veggies as well). With that plus a little carefully chosen meat, nuts, grains and dairy (and of course daily aerobic exercise), I have no need or desire to feed the pill industry. This all takes some time but I'm retired so what the heck.

Oh, and lots of pure artesian spring water that starts high in the Cascade Mountains and surfaces two blocks from my house (the local water utility monitors it for safety). I don't cook with or drink chemically processed municipal water.

Don't you just hate smug creeps like me? But it took me a number of years and a few health problems to finally wise up and start taking care of myself.


Not us, we feed the aquifer for the entire state. We used to have the purest water... until a few years ago we got e. coli somehow. Now I think they treat it, but it's still not chlorinated. I'm guessing the tritium is killing any beasties in the wells.

Luckmeister
2012-Jul-26, 04:36 AM
I bet you don't vomit whenever you eat things you don't like, too.

Well, I came very close to it eating fried okra many years ago at a state representative's home in Olympia. The dish was his pride and joy to prepare -- not a good time to upchuck. :p

Gillianren
2012-Jul-26, 05:20 AM
I would have had to apologetically refused it. I am an extremely fussy eater, to the point that it's often easier to give lists of what I will eat than what I won't. Believe me, I'd be happier getting all of my nutrition from food, but my body rejects most plant matter outright.

ravens_cry
2012-Jul-26, 06:34 AM
I try to follow my step-dads dictum of trying pretty much anything once.
Now, in the Palaeolithic Era, that would probably have gotten me killed, but almost everything we eat nowadays as a species is at least technically edible, and I might find something tasty I had never considered before.

Perikles
2012-Jul-26, 06:50 AM
I just took a 1000μg B12 vitamin supplement. Off-topic, I suppose, but why take such a huge dose, when a daily intake of 4 μg is sufficient?

(I don't really understand the blanket need for vitamin tablets, when real food provides them, but that's another thread)

Noclevername
2012-Jul-26, 07:58 AM
I bet you don't vomit whenever you eat things you don't like, too.

As a kid, there were certains foods that my parents tried to make me eat-- once.

Siguy
2012-Jul-26, 05:02 PM
Off-topic, I suppose, but why take such a huge dose, when a daily intake of 4 μg is sufficient?

(I don't really understand the blanket need for vitamin tablets, when real food provides them, but that's another thread)

Allegedly helps with memory and dream-recall. I just sort of wanted to test that theory, plus the bottle of melatonin I bought was "buy one get one free of equal or lesser value," and so the big bottle of B12 was free. I'm also aware that <300μg melatonin would be sufficient as a sleep aid for most people, but I also wanted to see what higher doses do.* Oddly enough, the bottle of 3mg melatonin advises not to take more than one pill, while it sits next to bottles of 5 and 10mg in the store.

*Took 24mg one night, 9mg the next night. First night it actually seemed to keep me up, but my thoughts were very bizarre bordering on dreamlike, and the transition between awake and asleep was fuzzier. Next night I slept well and felt well rested. The third night, last night, I didn't take any, but sleepiness seemed to kick in around 11:30pm as if I'd taken a regular dosage of melatonin. But being the computer addict I am, I stayed up til 4am anyway and woke up an hour and a half ago.
**No, I'm not searching for a "poor man's high" -- if I wanted to get high I'd have alternatives. Just experimenting on myself. It is interesting to note that melatonin is a tryptamine, chemically similar to DMT, and in fact very similar to 5-MeO-DMT, but I'm not sure what this forum's policy on discussing such substances is. (Though since DMT is naturally produced in ones brain, I'd imagine that it's acceptable when the discussion is pertaining to brain chemistry and not recreational use.)

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-26, 05:28 PM
Melatonin is made by the body naturally and broken down by sunlight, which is part of why and how we have a circadian rhythm: it builds up at night and makes you sleep and breaks down in the morning to wake you up. I have 6mg tabs that I break in half that melt in your mouth. Why would you intentionally overdose (http://www.livestrong.com/article/306824-side-effects-of-a-melatonin-overdose/) on it?

Siguy
2012-Jul-26, 05:35 PM
Melatonin is made by the body naturally and broken down by sunlight, which is part of why and how we have a circadian rhythm: it builds up at night and makes you sleep and breaks down in the morning to wake you up. I have 6mg tabs that I break in half that melt in your mouth. Why would you intentionally overdose (http://www.livestrong.com/article/306824-side-effects-of-a-melatonin-overdose/) on it?

I've heard of people taking over 100mg of melatonin with no ill effects. But I wouldn't take THAT much. I just want to see how the effects differ between doses.

One thing that did just occur to me, though, is that I often take melatonin before going to bed, but don't immediately turn off the lights or my computer. Could explain why sometimes it has no effect whatsoever on me.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-26, 05:41 PM
I've heard of people taking over 100mg of melatonin with no ill effects. But I wouldn't take THAT much. I just want to see how the effects differ between doses.

One thing that did just occur to me, though, is that I often take melatonin before going to bed, but don't immediately turn off the lights or my computer. Could explain why sometimes it has no effect whatsoever on me.

That, and if you're trying to stay awake, it's easier to fail at trying to sleep.

Siguy
2012-Jul-26, 06:03 PM
That, and if you're trying to stay awake, it's easier to fail at trying to sleep.

Well yeah, but I mean in cases where I'm actually experiencing insomnia. I'm not trying to stay awake in those cases.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-26, 07:16 PM
I take melatonin (5mg), and I was told that if you take it too long before bed, it can keep you up, so take it just before bedtime. (I can't recall which doctor or pharmacist said it, sorry.)

mike alexander
2012-Jul-26, 10:41 PM
Dosage formulation is a complex subspecialty, whether solid or liquid forms.