Hard-to-Swallow Vitamins Made Easy

Adding an additional supplement or vitamin to your diet doesn't have to mean another pill. Photo: GettyImages/ljubaphoto

If your vitamins have started feeling like a  jagged little pill, we hear you.

Supplementing our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we may be missing (vitamin D, we mean you), strengthening our hair and nails (biotin, anyone?) and even feeding and protecting our skin (hello, fish oils) with hard vitamins and minerals can be difficult at the best of times. 

And with immunity-boosting a top priority, we’ve become major pill-poppers. 

Companies are hearing us, too. Many have opted for different delivery methods, such as liquids, powders and even gummies (not to be confused with the sugary multi-coloured teddy bears or the CBD variety). 

Here, a few easier-to-take vitamin options.

Channel Your Inner Child: Gummies


New Nordic is actually launching more and more gummies,” says Montreal-based Jan Peterson, general manager at New Nordic, “as we can then offer people who don’t like tablets or don’t like swallowing them a different delivery option with the same or close to the same benefits as the tablet.” 

Hair volum gummies
New Nordic’s Hair Volume tablet. Photo: Courtesy of New Nordic


But what about sugar? Many of us associate the chewy bits with candy. “We have focused on sugar-free (using natural sugar alcohols), vegan (pectin-based), tasty (natural flavour) gummies that still show stability with a high dose of the active ingredient,” says Peterson of the company’s natural health products. “Right now, we offer our best-selling New Nordic Hair Volume tablet as a gummy,” she adds. “It mainly has hair nutrients like biotin, millet, silicon and apple extract,” she says, but “It’s not yet sugar-free and vegan but will be soon.

“The benefit of gummies is that the ingredients are quickly absorbed,” she says. The downside, however, can be that less of the ingredients can fit in the gummy, so Peterson advises you need to take more of them, which is not necessarily a bad thing because “as a manufacturer we have to be careful that the ingredients last long enough, as air can get in the way.” Consumers, she notes, don’t have to worry about that; they just see shorter expiry dates. 


Apple Cicer Gummies
Photo: Courtesy of New Nordic


Top Pick “We also offer New Nordic Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, sugar-free and vegan,” notes Peterson. “It’s hugely popular.” No surprise, considering the rise of apple cider vinegar as a health and pantry staple, with people slurping teaspoons of the stuff similar to the days of cod liver oil in an effort to aid gut health. “Many people dislike the taste of vinegar, so we can mask that with a green apple taste.” 

Next Up “Next in this line is Elderberry and Turmeric.” 


Omega Skin Savers: Liquids


Liquid beauty in a bottle? Depending on what you’re taking, your skin could thank you. In fact, there’s a product on the market that may just increase your skin’s resistance to UV-induced sunburn by delivering antioxidants also known as anti-inflammatory and anti-aging ingredients. “We’re proud of the quality of our raw materials,” says Marc St. Onge, founder of Bend Beauty, an ingestible beauty-supplement company based in Halifax. “And we are able to offer a lightly flavoured liquid format that meets the needs of those who may find it challenging to swallow capsules or prefer the ease of a liquid form in general.” 

Remember the days of taking smelly cod liver oil straight from the bottle? Not to mention that taste “repeating”? “People taste those off-notes more with liquid supplements than capsules,” says St. Onge. “So this also allows us to showcase our commitment to quality.” Bend’s formulas, which also come in softgels and powders, feature ingredients that address what St. Onge also refers to as “off-flavours – imparted by some of the more challenging medicinal ingredients, i.e., fish oil, borage oil and carotenoids (i.e., lutein and zeaxanthin, known to act as a natural sunblock for the eyes) – can be tricky tastes to mask if the starting materials are poor quality.” 


Bend Beauty
Photo: Courtesy of Bend Beauty


Top Pick The Anti-Aging Formula to Renew + Protect works from the inside out to fortify the skin and is said to help increase elasticity, firmness, hydration and – here’s the kicker – skin resistance to UV-induced sunburns. Utilizing known anti-oxidants such as EPA, DHA and GLA (there are those omegas again), plus vitamin D and the ingredients St. Onge lists above, the supplement may also improve redness and roughness in the skin.

The Science “A human clinical trial commissioned by Bend Beauty,” says St. Onge, who worked with the Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy and Departments of Pharmacology and Pediatrics, all at Dalhousie University in Halifax, “showed that supplementation with Renew + Protect reduced the likelihood and/or the severity of the inflammatory response associated with sunburn within a given UV exposure time and dose.”

The findings were published in the Journal of Natural Health Product Research in 2020. Further clinical trials are needed, St. Onge adds, to determine the exact mechanism in which Renew + Protect reduces skin’s sensitivity to UV-induced sunburn. “However,” he adds, “the human clinical trial and our recently published internal cell culture research suggest that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of our formula play a role in the photoprotective effect.

Immunity Booster: The Sunshine Vitamin in a Dropper


When Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S., recommends vitamin D and takes it regularly himself, most of us sit up and listen. The unsung hero of pandemic-era medicine in the U.S., the 80-year-old Fauci has become a respected darling north of the border, too, particularly for standing his ground with the former administration. 

Vitamin D has been shown to help in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, boost bone health and muscular function, help the body with pain – and the big one right now – studies also suggest that vitamin D has important immunological and antibacterial effects and may be important for preventing infections and even the common cold. 


Photo: Courtesy of AOR


Top Pick But another pill? AOR (Advanced Orthomolecular Research), a 28-year-old natural health product company out of Calgary, features Vitamin D3 Liquid for Adults. And the calibrated dropper ensures that you’re getting the accurate dose.

Doctor’s Orders “If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection,” says Fauci. “So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself, taking vitamin D supplements.” According to AOR, which uses scientific research to inform its supplements, it is safe to assume that many people are deficient in vitamin D.

Statistics Canada backs that assumption up: it reports that 32 per cent of Canadians were below sufficient blood concentration levels of vitamin D, while of those who took a supplement (34 per cent), 85 per cent per cent were above sufficient blood concentration levels. Clearly, taking a vitamin D supplement works. The sunshine vitamin also helps alleviate some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). After all, if it’s good enough for Dr. Fauci …