I take probiotics and some other vitamins, but I was wondering : do I actually need to eat the whole capsule or just sprinkle the contents of the capsule on food. For example, my probiotic (GR8-dophilus) is "enteric coated". Does that mean I have to eat the capsule as a whole (with no chewing etc.)? Or can I sprinkle the contents of the capsule on food or just pour the contents in my mouth?
I'm quite sure this is a very, very stupid question. But I just can't find details anywhere.
Enteric coating means it's going to dissolve in your intestines rather than in your stomach. For a probiotic, that means it's delivered to the right place. Even acidophilic bacteria aren't going to do too well in the stomach. So if you don't swallow that whole, you're wasting your money.
Other supps may be fine to powder and sprinkle on food. It really depends. But if I were you I'd just learn to take the pill.
There are two separate issues here.
In the case of vitamins and minerals the capusle or tablet is simply a convinent way of swallowing the ingredients, some of which can have an unpleasant taste if taken in a powdered form. Whether you swallow the capsule or empty the capsule onto your dinner is unlikey to make any difference to how well the vitamins are absorbed.
Probiotic capsules are a different matter. To reach your intestines alive, where you want them to be, probiotic bacteria must survive long enough to pass through the acidic environment of your stomach. Probiotic bacteria in powdered form are exposed and are likely to be killed by the low pH in your stomach. The capsule reduces exposure to this acidity and slows down the rate at which the bacteria die. You are probably better off swallowing the capsule.
I don't think this is a stupid question because I have taken proteolytic enzymes that claimed one MUST take it in capsule form so that it is digested further down the GI tract. When it comes to probiotics, I have heard people recommend sprinkling it in foods (I do this to get some in my kids from time to time). I think removing the capsule would be fine. If you are putting the contents in food, make sure the food is not very hot and don't let it sit out.
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