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At the last group meeting, there were several questions whether vitamin D and other vitamins would be absorbed via patch (transdermal) and spray (buccal/sublingual) routes. After reviewing several resources, the only article I could find was for transdermal Vitamin D absorption. However, if we look at the mechanism for each route we can make an educated assumption.
Transdermal route of absorption (without additional absorption enhancers) (ref) requires a molecular mass less than 500 g/mole, high lipophilicity (affinity to fat or lipids), and low required daily dose (less than 2mg). The fat-soluble vitamins are definitely lipophilic, all of them have molecular weights less than 500 g/mole and daily dose is under 2mg. It seems that hydrophilic medications (that have an affinity to water) may have less ability to be absorbed with this route unless a chemical enhancer is added to the product. Most vitamins and minerals have lower molecular weights except Vitamin B12 which has too high of a molecular weight unless an enhancer is added. The transdermal route has slower absorption than buccal (oral mucosa) but faster than usual tablet oral route. The down side to transdermal route is possible skin issues due to medication, adhesives, and also different rates of absorption due to skin thickness and condition.
Buccal/sublingual route of absorption is dependent on lipid solubility, oil to water partition coeffincient, saliva pH, small to moderate molecular weight, and oral mucosa thickness. The mechanism of action is osmosis, which means items that readily dissolve in water are easily absorbed. Unlike orally ingested medicates, that take time to absorb and need to be filtered and/or processed in the liver, sublingual route is fast absorbing and the liver is bypassed. The down side to this route is it disrupts eating and drinking and is not efficient with smoking due to vasoconstriction.
An e-mail was sent to the companies inquiring about the outcomes of their products with people with malabsorption issues. No response was received from the spray vitamin companies.A request was also sent to obtain any research articles they may have but a response has not been received at this time. The following is the response I received from the maker of Patch MD.
“I am the president and founder of Patch MD. We design Patch MD to help people that have digestive issues and malabsorption. Our whole premise is to avoid the digestive track, by doing so we avoid dealing with conditions such as short bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and bariatric surgery to name a few. People also with Crohn’s disease and iliac disease are challenged with digestion and absorption every day of their life. Our patches are designed specifically to pass nutrition through the skin into the bloodstream. We get letters every day from people that have had bariatric surgery and were unable to get vitamin D, calcium, the B’s and Vitamin A and K, our product works because we use the skin as our delivery system, absorption is through the skin, avoiding all digestive potential issues. The only problem that we may have is we tell our customers to use no lotions or cream in the patch application area, as you may understand it will prevent absorption. We are going to be at a national convention this weekend in Manhattan Beach California to take part and display our products at the ObesityHelp conference. They ask us to take part as they were getting great reviews from their members that are using the patch. All were improving their blood work after taking Patch MD patches.”
Earl Hailey, President Patch MD
In light of the review of data, it would seem that the transdermal route would be beneficial to people who are having issues maintaining blood levels of fat-soluble vitamin levels. The other vitamins also have a good prospect of absorption via transdermal route. Buccal or sublingual (sprays) would seem to have a better outcome for water-soluble vitamins unless there is an additive added to the product to increase the solubility of the fat-soluble vitamins and make them water miscible. We must realize that there is no data for Duodenal Switch patients and very little data regarding these routes of absorption with vitamins specifically. If you are going to try these types of vitamins you should be extremely diligent in following your laboratory studies for vitamin levels with greater frequency until it is determined they are maintaining your blood levels.
Also, it should be noted that water miscible (dry) Vitamin A, D, E, K are the only type of these vitamins a DS patients should be taking. Over the counter Vitamin A, D, E, K are fat-soluble and due to the fat malabsorption after DS these type of vitamins are not appropriate to maintain blood levels. Water miscible (dry) vitamins should NOT be taken with fatty or oily foods and should also be taken 30 minutes prior or 30 minutes after eating. The water miscibility makes them water soluble and therefore will not have optimal absorption if taken with fat. Fat also increases the rate of digestion through the small bowel after DS and decreases the amount of time the vitamin has in the bowel and therefore, decreases absorption. They are best absorbed when taken on their own.
The good news patches and spray routes of administering medications and supplements is an up and coming area of research. There are several ongoing research studies and new developments on the horizon for increasing absorbability of transdermal route with different types of additives and techniques.
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Do you have an update from the companies regarding transdermal vitamins? Is it possible to get vitamin A transdermally? I used Patch MD D3 for three months with a test before and after and level went down. I also used B12 Plus (other B vitamins included) and I think that has worked, will be testing again soon.
The absorption of transdermal vitamins are very unpredictable. I am not aware of specific Vitamin A product.
I have been using the MVI + product for over two years. My labs are all within normal limits. This includes B12, Ferritin, Iron, PTH, D3. I am a RNY post 13 years.
Sue Cox Bunnell RN, BSHW, CBN, CHSP, CHC
Hello- Thank you for sharing your experience. As we all need to be reminded that individual outcomes do not make science. I would like to see blinded studies where placebo was applied to one group of patients and the supplements to another group (similar group, ideally both post op) and see how each group does with their blood levels.
I have just contacted Bariatric Pal, a website that sells Patch MD to try and get my money back on unopened product. I am not hopeful they will do so, but I am trying. I had been using the patches since September 2016 thinking that they were helping, how could they not with all of those great reviews. I just recently went in for routine blood work and the number were not good. I feel like a sucker for believing the claims because I was so tired of swallowing the handfuls of supplements we Bariatric patients need to take. I am now worse off than I was before. I am on the verge of blood transfusions if I can not get my numbers raised. I had my Bypass 8 years ago and have never had such bad test results. I am hoping that I am not the norm and the product does work for some people.
I have heard about this both ways. I think the patches only work well for certain vitamins. I also think they go old quick so I am going to refrigerate mine and take a vitamin test after the month is up.
You might look into liquid vitamins like TRACE MINERALS brand.
I think the vitamin patch industry will get better in time.
I think everyone assumed it would automatically work well since al other patches like nicotine and birth control patches worked so well.