Why Nano technology in nutritional supplementation?
The ability to render materials effectively and efficiently to a nanosized dimension is a general-purpose technology that will literally change the way everything (without exception) will be done.
Nanotechnology is THE new technology.
To illustrate, other previous general-purpose technologies were steam power, electricity, the airplane, and the computer. These are revolutionary general technologies which trigger a phenomenon called ‘creative destruction’ and, therefore, are often called disruptive technologies.
Creative destruction means that existing institutions and companies must be able to rapidly adopt the technology or be destroyed and replaced.
Nanotechnology as it pertains to the supplement industry
Generally, phytochemicals (usually polyphenols) which are useful to the body are relatively poorly absorbed across the gut. The term ‘bioavailability’ refers to the percentage of orally ingested polyphenols which make it across the gut into the blood and, thus, become available to the cells. Polyphenols and other nutrients are absorbed in a range of 1% to 6% only.
When you reduce digestion to its simplest function, it is principally taking large particles and rendering them to minuscule particles. This makes sense because virtually all metabolic processes in the body take place inside cells and only particles less than micron size can be absorbed into cells. To repeat, for emphasis, cells can only assimilate particles at the nanoscale or smaller. Therefore, the ability to downsize the nutrients in supplements to nanoscale efficiently outside the body renders digestion unnecessary. Bioavailability ceases to be a problem because the gut can be bypassed as nano particles can be effectively absorbed through the oral and nasal mucosa directly into the bloodstream.
However, there are other benefits from nanosizing nutrients besides increases in bioavailability. All biochemical reactions which occur in the body take place only at the surface of a particle. The molecules deeper inside the particle are not involved actively in any metabolic process. Therefore, the speed and efficacy of biochemical reactions is directly proportional to the surface area of the reagents. The greater the surface area, the more efficient the reaction.
Now, let’s touch on particle size as an important factor in determining surface area. The smaller the particle, the greater the surface area available for reactivity. For example, the surface area of a basketball is approximately 23.75 ft.². If the same mass of the ball were occupied by large marbles, the approximate surface area increases to the size of more than a football field. If the particle size is then reduced to BB size, the surface area must be measured in square miles. If the same mass of the basketball is rendered to nanosized particles, the surface area would be much greater than the surface area of the states of Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona combined!
In discussing size, an order of magnitude decrease is 10 to the ninth times smaller. Standardly, supplement ingredients are measured in milligrams. Nanograms are a full order of magnitude smaller. There are one million nanograms in 1 mg, for example. Remembering that all chemical reactions take place at the surface of a particle, the ideal particle size would be the smallest particle of a substance that maintains the integrity of its molecular identity. The advantages of nanosizing supplement ingredients in terms of biochemical reactivity cannot be overstated.
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