Are 90% Of Your Vitamins Going Down The Toilet?

October 2016, Warren Matthews


If you live in the USA it is likely that you have been exposed to advertising suggesting that 90% of the vitamin tablets that you are taking are going down the toilet. Because these claims are so wide-spread I feel that is appropriate to address the issue of bio-availability and sort out the fact from the fiction.

If you live in the USA it is likely that you have been exposed to advertising suggesting that 90% of the vitamin tablets that you are taking are going down the toilet. Because these claims are so wide-spread I feel that is appropriate to address the issue of bio-availability and sort out the fact from the fiction.

Is this claim true or not? The answer is not a definitive yes or no because there is no benchmark to base the claim on. I'll try to explain.

Supplements are a bit like cars. For example, at one end of the spectrum you may have a Russian built 1970’s Lada which was cheap, utilitarian and very unreliable and cost a few thousand dollars or you may have a Rolls Royce which is the ultimate in luxury motoring and reliability and will set you back around a half million dollars. There is no comparison between the two vehicles.

The same principle applies to supplements

You can buy cheap supplements at the supermarket and what you get is a product which is manufactured to a (low) price. This means that the cheapest possible ingredients are used as well as the cheapest excipients which bind the ingredients together. To give you an idea of just how big the difference of ingredient costs can be I will quote an example of one nutrient... Beta Carotene.

The overwhelming majority of manufacturers use synthetic beta carotene (including some of the more expensive brands). The cost of pure synthetic beta carotene can be as little as just a few dollars per kilo.

However, the 7.5% natural beta carotene from LycoRed that we use in our Total Balance costs over $220 per kilo.

The same differences apply with Vitamin B12 and many other ingredients. Whereas there are cheaper, inferior forms of vitamin B12, Xtend-Life uses the Coenzymated form of vitamin B12, known as Cobamamide (also known as Dibencozide) which costs over $13,000/kg.

The differences do not end with the active ingredients. There can also be big differences with the excipients as well. Some cheaper excipients bind the ingredients together so well that after swallowing the tablet a large proportion of it passes right through your system and it does indeed end up in the toilet.

To make matters worse those ingredients that are released are released in the stomach and can be largely destroyed by your stomach acid. When using these types of cheap supplements as the 'yard stick' the statement that 90% of the supplement ends up in the toilet may be true...

Comparing apples with oranges...

The difference between some supplements can be as great as the difference between apples and oranges, not only in the quality of the ingredients used but also the delivery system employed, or the lack of a delivery system. When I am talking about a delivery system I am referring to how the active ingredients get into your blood stream where they are needed to do their work.

There are several ways in which nutrients can get into your blood stream.

  • By injection
  • Through the mucous membranes of the mouth (Only some nutrients)
  • Via the stomach
  • Via the lining of the walls of the upper intestine

The methods which are used are as follows:

  • Injection with a hypodermic syringe... only practical via a clinic or physician. Vitamin B12 injections are one example.
  • Through the mucous membranes of the mouth by a sublingual tablet or liquid. Note: This has limitations because many nutrients cannot be absorbed through these membranes.
  • Via the stomach.
  • Via the lining of the walls of the upper intestine. This is how our Total Balance is absorbed through the use of a special enteric coating.

Sadly many supplements do not have any 'delivery' system. They are simply made into a tablet or capsule and if they dissolve within a reasonable time, that's OK.

However, the problem with this is that many of the most potent nutrients like SAMe and reduced Glutathione, which provide some of the greatest age-defying benefits cannot be released in the stomach, because they are destroyed by the stomach acids.

All of our Total Balance products are enteric coated. This means that all of the nutrients are protected from stomach acid, and they are released in the upper intestine.

In the case of Xtend-Life’s Multi-Xtra, and some other products, we use standard tablets with a pharmaceutical glaze coating.

We use this type of coating for tablets that are designed to breakdown and release their nutrients in the stomach. These products are carefully formulated to only include ingredients that are effective when released in the stomach.

Every batch of each Xtend-Life product is tested using BP (British Pharmacopeia) test methods to ensure that every tablet will breakdown correctly and ensure maximum efficacy.

Xtend-Life products will not pass through your system unused and wasted.

For more information, please click on these links to learn more about enteric coating and the delivery systems we use.


  • “Hello, I have purchased xtendlife multi-xtra dietary supplement for a number of years. You have stated that your Total Balance product is enteric coated and the bio-availability is around 80%. Is the multi-xtra supplement enteric coated? If not, is its bio-availability between 10 – 15%? The label on the bottle states "with additional specialty nutrients to support bio-availability" – what does that mean? I am a strong supporter of xtendlife supplements, they are a wonderful product.”

    Dale Daharsh - October 13 2016

  • “Hi Dale, This is an excellent question. The article above has been updated to be better understood. We are sorry that this was not as clear as it should have been. The enteric coating we used with our Total Balance range allows us to use some really special ingredients such as reduced Glutathione and SAMe. I am just posting another comment with more information about these particular ingredients. Multi-Xtra is not able to provide some of the exceptional age-defying benefits that Total Balance can over the long term. However it is still a great product with excellent efficacy. What was previously not clear enough in this article is that there are 3 key issues that can make a tablet product ineffective. One is the inclusion on high dose cheap synthetic ingredients, such as cheap forms of vitamin A and C, among others. Vitamin A in the form of retinol is cheap, but harmful. Excessive cheap vitamin C can act as a pro-oxidant. Another problem can be that cheap tablets may never breakdown and release the ingredients until it is too late. Another factor is that some manufacturers will include ingredients that might be valuable, what they wont tell customers is that they will do no good because they will be destroyed by the stomach acids. Our Multi-Xtra is carefully formulated to use ingredients that will be effective when released into the stomach. You also asked about the specialty nutrients that support the bio-availability. Ill just focus on 2 examples of this in Multi-Xtra. - We used Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone) because this supports the effective absorbtion of calcium. ( - We use Piperine because of its ability to enhance the bio-availability of other ingredients ( I hope this helps Dale, if you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us at In good health, Madelynn”

    Xtend-Life Expert - October 14 2016

  • “Hi Claudia, Thats a good question. The claim that tablets cannot be absorbed as well as powder is not true. A carefully formulated product in tablet form which is tested for disintegration is going to provide excellent bioavailability. For instance, our enteric coated tablets are tested to ensure they do not breakdown in an acid environment, but they breakdown completely within 60 minutes in the upper intestine. Every batch is tested using BP (British Pharmacopeia) methods. It is also possible to provide some more basic products which are still effective in powder form. Having a constant intake of smaller amounts of nutrients can have some value. In good health, Madelynn”

    Xtend-Life Expert - October 21 2016

  • “Hi Mike. Thanks for your question.  We have now updated the article above to improve it.  It is very hard to put a percentage on this, because that could be very misleading. The degree to which the efficacy would be damaged depends a great deal on each particular ingredient.  For instance, when we use amino acids in our Total Balance products, several of them are in a different form to what we use in Multi-Xtra, which is released into the stomach. However, Ill use just 2 examples of very expensive ingredients which are also potentially 2 of the most important ingredients that can be used in dietary supplements. These are SAMe and reduced Glutathione. In these cases it is believed that approximately 80-90% of these powerful nutrients are destroyed when released into the stomach. Or, when looked at the other way, they are potentially 10 times as effective when released into the upper intestine. This page has more information about our enteric coating (, and SAMe (, and reduced Glutathione ( In good health, Madelynn”

    Xtend-Life Expert - October 21 2016

  • “Another company sells a multivitamin in powder form to be taken twice a day because they claim tablet forms of any kind are not fully absorbed like a powder form can be; also the twice daily is necessary because some vitamins and minerals compete for absorption, so their consumption times must be several hours apart. Can you comment regarding these issues? Thanks”

    Claudia - October 19 2016

  • “Great article, love your vitamins, wish they were more affordable!”

    H Eric Tyler - October 13 2016

  • “Hi Dan, Thank you for your comment. When first starting on Total Balance, some customers may notice a difference in their urine, while others notice slight nausea. This is often due to the body’s detoxification process caused by the large number of detoxifying ingredients in our formulation. We are exposed to a large number of toxins on a daily basis through diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. Total Balance works to first eliminate the build-up of toxins within the body before continuing to set a good cellular foundation for good health. You mention you drink plenty of water, which is great. I would recommend continuing to do so while taking our Total Balance product, as any detoxification symptoms should dissipate in the first few weeks. If you have any additional questions please contact us at In good health, Madelynn”

    Xtend-Life Expert - October 14 2016

  • “I am curious to know what percentage of the ingredients in Total Balance would be destroyed by stomach acid were the product not enteric coated. I am a strong supporter of the product and believe it to be one of, if not the best, supplements you can buy. Thanks!”

    Mike Grizzell - October 16 2016

  • “I purchased a bottle of xtendlife total balance mens dietary supplement. I noticed after each time I took the daily recommended dose my urine was always a dark color. Normally it is very clear because I make sure to drink alot of water throughout the day. I will not purchase another bottle because I think most of these vitamins do nothing more than create very expensive urine!”

    Dan Kramer - October 13 2016

  • “Although I have only been using the men’s Total Balance for a couple of months, I find the results outstanding for those reasons outlined in your article. Consequently I am most certainly making others aware of Xtendlife products. Thank you.”

    Joseph A. Rossi - October 13 2016

Leave a Comment

Topics you might be interested in

Healthy Aging - What Is It Really?

September 2017 by, Warren Matthews

Different people have different ideas of what healthy aging is. These ideas will vary depending upon whether you are a man or woman and what your age is.

Read More