5 Unique Supplement Forms You Need to Know

by Melissa Chichester

In a sea of vitamin and mineral supplements, what happens when they come with different names? When you’re shopping for supplements, you will find the Vitamin B-12 you’re looking for, but you’ll also find something called “sublingual” B-12. You might be shopping for copper, and find a “chelated” version. 

What does it all mean? Well, vitamin and mineral supplements are available in several different forms. The reason for this is to make improvements. Manufacturers are usually improving two things by providing different forms. The first is to improve the absorption and effectiveness of your supplement. The second is to improve your ability to take the supplement. This is especially important for people who have trouble swallowing pills. Here are five common terms and supplement forms you might see on the label of your vitamin and mineral supplements, and what they mean.


If you’re shopping for minerals like zinc, iron, copper, and manganese, you might see the word “chelated” on the label. Chelated minerals are bound to an amino acid or another organic compound. This helps increase the absorption of your supplement. This is especially important for minerals, which are typically more difficult for the body to absorb. You can gain clues about what amino acids are used in chelated minerals by reading the label. For example, when you see “magnesium glycinate,” magnesium has been combined with the amino acid glycine. You will also find organic compounds used in names. For example, “magnesium citrate” means magnesium has been combined with citric acid to improve absorption. 

There are other benefits of using chelated minerals, especially for older adults. Chelated minerals do not require as much stomach acid to be digested. This is important because with age, stomach acid production may decrease. Chelated minerals may also be more gentle on your stomach. 

>>Three Types of Magnesium


For the wordsmiths out there, you might enjoy how the word “effervescent” rolls off the tongue. And that’s basically what effervescent vitamins are designed to do! Effervescent vitamins are tablets and powders are designed to dissolve in water or other liquids. There are several perks to taking vitamins this way: 

  • Taste better 
  • Easier to consume
  • Increased hydration (because you’re drinking water or juice)
  • Easy to measure (when in powder form)
  • Easy to swallow 

If you don’t want to know you’re taking vitamins, this is the way to go!


Vitamin B-12 is one of the most common vitamins available in sublingual form. Sublingual vitamins are designed to begin dissolving under the tongue before swallowing. While this doesn’t sound like anything special, it’s actually quite amazing.

When you place the sublingual tablet under your tongue, the idea is that it begins to dissolves directly into your bloodstream. That means some of the nutrient can bypasses the harsh acids in the digestive system.

This also helps the nutrient get to work faster in your body. Another benefit of sublingual supplements is that they can be taken in smaller doses. 

Enteric Coated 

Enteric-coated over-the-counter pain relievers are a common sight. However, supplements also come in enteric coated forms. The word “enteric” means that it relates to the small intestine.

Enteric-coated supplements are coated with a material that protects the integrity of the nutrient until it reaches your small intestine.

That means it bypasses the stomach first, avoiding being broken down by stomach acid. This helps the supplement efficiently absorb. Supplements that are enteric coated include garlic, which helps eliminate the garlic odor for sensitive noses.


Right now, liposomal supplements might not be on your radar. However, there is a growing interest in the benefits of liposomes. Liposomes are “bubbles” that similarly to enteric-coated supplements, can withstand a harsh digestive environment. These tiny bubbles combine the nutrient with a protective element (such as phospholipids) to help it travel through your system and get where it needs to go.

The next time you’re out shopping for supplements, read the front of the label carefully. You might find one of these terms on it and know if it’s the right choice for you!