Should you take Capsuled or Powdered supplements?
A new Biohacker faces a bit of a dilemma as they begin researching Nootropics or anti-aging supplements; should you buy capsuled or powdered stuff?
It depends. We’re accustomed to seeing supplements and medicine sold on pharmacy store shelves as capsules and pills but that’s not always the best way to consume something. The average consumer is used to taking vitamins and supplements as tasteless white capsules and understandably a bit intimidated by the idea of consuming a weird tasting powder.
In this article, I’ll break down the pros and cons of both, so you can make the right decision about the form of supplements to take.
Should you take Capsuled or Powdered supplements?
A new Biohacker faces a bit of a dilemma as they begin researching Nootropics or anti-aging supplements; should you buy…
The first major difference is that powders are cheaper. Capsuling a supplement is a tricky, time-consuming process and the manufacturers pass that cost on to you. When choosing between buying capsuled or powdered you want to do a little math…
Product cost / grams = price per gram
But you’ll need to take a look at the products’ labels and verify how much of the desired ingredient is contained in a capsule. Sometimes a 500-milligram capsule will only contain 300-milligrams of the ingredient. You may need to multiply the…
Number of servings X Dose per serving
… that is displayed on the label.
For example: NMN, an epigenetic anti-aging Vitamin B3 derivative, runs $48 for 7.5 grams in the capsuled form (that’s $6.40 per gram). Powdered it costs $75 for 15 grams (that’s $5 per gram), a 30% savings, that’s not bad! Unless you’re a millionaire you should be happy about saving 30%.
If you are bad at math or confused, email the manufacturer and just ask — a decent source of any supplement is always happy to answer questions.
Sometimes you’ll find that powdered is a significant saving, but it might still be smarter to get it capsuled…
There’s a good reason why the masses choose capsuled supplements, they are a lot more convenient to consume. Drop a capsule or two, wash it down with a glass of water and you’re done.
Consuming powdered supplements is a bit more of a process, with many supplements you need to take a specific dosage consistently so you need to measure out 300 milligrams, 500 milligrams or a gram (or whatever the clinically efficacious is dosage) with a scale. If you’re committed to rigorous accuracy in your biohacking you need to measure it out with a scale every time, which can get time-consuming but you might not be, then you can eyeball the dose after you’ve measured it out a few times.
Often powdered supplements come with a helpful little spoon that you can use to scoop out the powder you can eyeball the dose in the scoop but it’s still not quite as accurate as measuring it out every time.
If you’re taking something like the racetams which are potent (and sometimes pricy!) at even small dosages accuracy is important.
Capsules contain a consistent dose of a given ingredient, if you have more money than time and consistency of dosage is important, capsuled is better.
Powders also sometimes taste awful, particularly the synthetic, lab-formulated supplements, like the Racetams. If you find the taste of something really unpleasant, just take it capsuled.
First created by Belgian scientists in 1964 Piracetam is the original nootropic and very popular, it improves the…
Powders are messier, inevitably you’ll accidentally spill powder on the floor or dump it on your desk.
Despite these downsides of powdered supplements, I still prefer powdered when it comes to the supplements I really like and use regularly because you can get greater quantities more economically. In your experimentation and research, you’ll figure out which supplements really work for you and you might as well stock up in bulk on those so you don’t have to place eCommerce orders monthly. For the same reason, if I want to try a new supplement but I’m not sure if I’ll use it long term, I get just a month’s supply of the capsuled stuff.
When it comes to organic Nutriceuticals and adaptogenic herbs, I prefer powdered over capsuled.
- Herbal supplements are much nicer capsuled. They have a hearty, earthy taste that makes for a great Adaptogenic tea.
- Their absorption is better when taken as a hot tea.
- With herbs and Nutriceuticals, precision dosage is less important. You don’t need to do exactly 2.75 grams of Ashwaghanda daily.
- With powdered herbs, you don’t need to worry that an extra 500 milligrams are going to result in overstimulation or an undesirable side effect. You can eyeball the dose, I take about a half teaspoon of Horny Goat Weed daily to naturally support my testosterone levels, but before an epic horizontal session with Mrs. Roseland, I’ll do a heaping full teaspoon. Unlike pharmaceuticals like Viagra, you don’t have to worry about an overdose of herbs resulting in a penis amputation (yikes!)
Horny Goat Weed
A Chinese herb and historical aphrodisiac for both sexes that also goes by the significantly less awesome name…
Usually, there’s not a big difference in the absorption of the ingredient between capsuled and powdered.
But you’ll want to do a little research and find out if Biohackers (on Reddit or Longecity.org) or the scientists conducting human clinical trials (listed on Pubmed) are taking the supplement sublingually — holding the supplement under your tongue so it absorbs into the blood vessels there. If the clinical or anecdotal evidence leads you to believe that the sublingual absorption is better, you’ll want to dump the powdered ingredient under your tongue.
If you've ever wondered if there was a scientific community online where you can get your difficult questions answered…
Stacks and Multivitamins
Around the internet, you’ll find a lot of stacks advertised; multivitamin cocktails of different vitamins, nutrients, and Nootropic ingredients combined in capsules. You actually want to be a little more skeptical of these products…
- When a product contains 5, 10 or 15 (or more!) different ingredients I worry that each individual ingredient may not be of the highest quality. When I find a company, team or product that focuses on a single ingredient, I know that their quality testing and manufacturing standards will be higher.
- Often these products offer NO proof that they actually contain the advertised ingredients.
- Worse are those one-a-day multivitamins that you see advertised on TV and sold at the grocery store. They come in these solid vitamin tablets that are infamously hard for us to digest (they often end up clogging plumbing or get stuck in our bodies and show up in X-Rays) and researchers at John Hopkins, evaluating data from large-scale clinical research, warn that multi-vitamins provide little real health benefit.
- As a rule of thumb, before buying or consuming a stack or multivitamin, demand to see a certificate of analysis verifying the purity of the individual ingredient. There’s a couple of excellent Nootropic stacks I’ve tried, they weren’t cheap as they contained real high-end, high absorption ingredients (which they proved with COAs). But generally, I prefer and recommend single-ingredient products because when you take a stack of multiple things you can’t really draw subjective causality between an effect and an ingredient.
A concern with powders is confusing them, as many of them look nearly identical. Insufficiently attentive Biohackers could actually kill themselves by confusing powdered Piracetam and caffeine, for example. I have NO IDEA why anyone would want to take pure powdered caffeine but apparently a handful of people kill themselves yearly this way.
Less deadly is just the risk of taking too much of a given supplement which is easy to do with powders. Every veteran Biohacker has a story about accidentally doing a mega-dose of something and then being overstimulated, getting paranoid, puking or spending the day in the bathroom. Biohackers do die of overdoses, it’s rare but preventable. Don’t be one of them, pay attention to the dosage of what you’re consuming.
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The other (endlessly joked about) problem with powdered supplements is that they are often conspicuous white powders. Don’t travel with these powders as you’ll have a lot of explaining to do to any police officer or authority who might see them. As a digital nomad, I’ve crossed dozens of borders carrying bottles of capsuled supplements that never got a second look from border guards, but if they ever see a bagged powder in your luggage you must be prepared to present an abundance of evidence to prove your innocence to agents of the state.
Also, unless you totally trust your roommates don’t let them see your powdered supplements as they may think you have a valuable stash of drugs. And don’t post photos of them on social media.