Mineral Fortification: Overcoming Formulation Challenges

The number of mineral-fortified food and beverages globally increases every year, with a wide range of trending claims. Depending on the product, there can be formulation challenges to overcome.

In fortifying with minerals, the ingredient properties that matter include solubility, dissolution rate, granulation, taste and bioavailability, plus price and potency. Solubility is the amount of a substance that will dissolve in a given amount of another substance, generally water. Initial solubility is the maximum amount that could be dissolved. However, stable solubility, the amount that can be kept in solution after a given period (such as 48 hours) is more important in a fortified product.

“Inverse solubility can be an issue. This is when solubility decreases with increasing temperature, as in heat treatment,” explained Rocio Aramburo, marketing development manager, Jungbunzlauer, in a Prepared Foods R&D Seminar titled “Mineral Fortification: Overcoming Formulation Challenges.”

The dissolution rate of a substance is also important when fortifying with minerals. This is the time in which a substance is completely dissolved in another substance (water). Particle size also matters. Smaller particle size of minerals results in faster dissolution, better dispersibility and enhanced homogeneity in suspension. Smaller particles also provide slower sedimentation and, therefore, improved stability; superior mouthfeel; and improved texture and viscosity.

However, added Aramburo, “with increasing mineral particle size, better flow characteristics and tableting properties can be expected.”

Currently trending are high levels of minerals in a serving for claim purposes, but with higher levels of fortification, taste can be influenced negatively. Minerals at high levels can add metallic, sour, astringent, bitter or sandy properties to foods and beverages. For example, currently, a target calcium content of 100mg per serving would be required for a “good source of calcium” claim. Various forms of calcium could be used. Depending on product properties and needs, tricalcium citrate or calcium lactate gluconate, with differing calcium content and price, might be considerations.

Bioavailability (the extent and rate at which an active ingredient enters systemic circulation thereby accessing the site of action) is another consideration when choosing a mineral ingredient. Extent of bioavailability is based on the specific mineral salt, but also on the food consumed with it. Bioavailability can range from 10-70%, depending on the mineral salt.

“Low bioavailability can mean low significance of health effects in human studies; risk of rejection of claims by authorities; or trouble with competition,” cautioned Aramburo.

Organic mineral salts derived from fruits and vegetables, particularly citrates, typically offer higher bioavailability. Organic minerals are broken down by human bodies and used for critical biological processes. In contrast, inorganic minerals are foreign to the body and require significant amounts of acid to break them into a usable form. Organic mineral salts are generally more soluble and bioavailable than inorganic salts, making them the preferred source for superior nutritional products.

A wide variety of calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc ingredients are available with variation in taste, solubility, content, cost and nutritional value. Mineral-fortified products with uncompromised taste and stability can create new product concepts with innovative benefits. These benefits may include relaxation, energizing, building immunity, bone and heart health support, hair, skin and sports improvement—among others.

“Mineral Fortification: Overcoming Formulation Challenges,” Rocio Aramburo, marketing development manager, Jungbunzlauer, 857-636-9131, rocio.aramburo@jungbunzlauer.com
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Collagen Peptides for Functional Nutrition

Collagen peptides show efficacy in skin, joint and bone health, and also are a source of high-quality protein for use in functional foods. Collagen protein is derived from animal sources, including porcine, bovine and fish. Derived from collagen with a molecular weight of approximately 300,000 Daltons, collagen peptides go through a two-step hydrolysis process resulting in molecular weights ranging from 100-10,000 Daltons. Collagen peptides are composed of 17 to 19 different amino acids with a uniquely high proportion of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline—essential elements for production of healthy bones, joints and skin.

Over 90% protein with no carbohydrates or fat, collagen peptides are a clear protein source with minimal taste and odor. They are cold water-soluble and heat-stable, with potential applications in functional foods and beverages, supplements, nutria-cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, enteral nutrition and other medical applications.

“After age 20, a person produces 1% less collagen per year in their skin,” stated Erika Tchang, business development manager, Nitta Gelatin NA Inc., in her PF R&D Seminar, “Collagen Peptides for Functional Nutrition.”    

Consumption of collagen peptides enhances hyaluronic acid production by stimulating dermal fibroblasts. Skin moisture content and elasticity also are improved, reducing formation of wrinkles. A clinical study of 50 female subjects, ages 35-55 taking 5g/day of collagen peptides for eight weeks, showed that skin moisture increased by five times after four weeks and six times after eight weeks, compared with placebo. Skin moisture was analyzed with a Corneometer—an instrument for analyzing moisture in the outermost layer of skin. Skin texture was also measured with a skin surface analyzer and image-based software; smoother skin was found in those taking the collagen peptides compared with placebo.

Studies also have shown improvement in bone and joint health with collagen peptide supplementation. Collagen peptides contain di-peptides essential to healthy bone metabolism. They regulate differentiation of osteoclasts and osteoblasts, helping to maintain bone density. Joint health also is improved by consuming collagen peptides, as it stimulates collagen synthesis in the chondrocytes, preventing joint cartilage degradation and providing building blocks for collagen in joints.

Collagen peptides offer a unique opportunity for a quality, functional protein source.  It has applications in beverages or beverage mixes, contributing minimal taste and odor. High concentrations can be used while adding minimal viscosity, up to 10g per 50ml, allowing for a clear, shelf-stable, protein beverage with reduced precipitation. On average, collagen has a pH of 5.5-6.5 and is stable in finished, hydrated beverages for more than four months. Its isoelectric point is 8.0 pH and will cause reactions with certain negatively charged ingredients.

Tchang also warned that collagen is highly reactive and will cause precipitation with polyphenols, glucosamine, chondroitin or xanthan gum. Reactions can be reduced by using lower molecular weight collagen peptides.

Potential claims can be made on products containing collagen for promoting healthy skin, bone and joints, as well as boosting protein for a protein claim.

“Collagen Peptides for Functional Nutrition,” Erika Tchang, business development manager, Nitta Gelatin NA Inc., 919-518-6612, e.tchang@nitta-gelatin.com
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Health Benefits & Applications of Nutritional Lipids

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from marine and plant sources which are considered for their nutritional health benefits. EPA and DHA are well-researched, with thousands of published papers showing their importance to health. Alpha linoleic acid, (ALA 18:3), found in plants like flax seed, is a precursor for EPA and DHA; however, the conversion is low, at 0.01-8.0%. EPA and DHA are found in fish and algae and are essential for the heart, brain and eyes. EPA and DHA consumption reduce risk of coronary heart disease-relatd deaths. Intakes of 250-500mg/day of EPA and DHA are associated with a 36% reduction in CHD-related mortality risk.

“DHA is the main omega-3 fatty acid present in the brain and is critical for brain health throughout the lifespan,” stated Todd Katz, senior manager, technical marketing, at DSM Nutritional Products, in his R&D presentation titled “Health Benefits & Applications of Nutritional Lipids.”

DHA accumulates primarily in the brain and retina, where it plays important structural and functional roles. Dietary intakes of omega-3s decline after weaning, and Americans are not consuming enough. Roughly eight out of 10 Americans have an inadequate omega-3 status. In the Nurse’s Health Study, adequate omega-3 status was associated with 260mg/day intake. The World Health Organization recommends taking more than 250mg EPA + DHA/day. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends taking over 500mg per day.

Fish oil is a good source of DHA and EPA, and while Menhaden oil is affirmed as GRAS (21CFR 184.1472), other types of fish (such as anchovy, sardine and tuna) are permitted under this regulation.  Additional GRAS notifications from several companies also have been issued for ethyl esters, triglycerides and algal oil. In the US, structure/function claims for heart health can be made for EPA and DHA, such as: “DHA & EPA promotes cardiovascular health;” “supports a healthy heart;” or “are heart-healthy nutrients.”

For brain health, DHA is an important brain nutrient, and structure/function claims also can be made in this area in the US (i.e., for children, “DHA supports brain development and function” or “DHA contributes to normal brain development”). In adults, DHA supports the brain; may support normal cognitive function with age; and contributes to memory function.

Long-chain fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, are vulnerable to lipid oxidation. Therefore, to control oxidation, air exposure must be controlled. Adding other ingredients and controlling processing also helps. Ingredients that can help include metal ions (chelators) and antioxidants. Reducing moisture, processing at lower temperatures and using packaging with minimal gas exchange can keep oxidation to a minimum.

Omega-3 fatty acids are available in oils and emulsions, and as either spray-dried or coacervate powders. Katz described the benefits of coacervate powders, “which are made when a single shell forms around individual droplets of omega-3. The droplets aggregate, and an outer shell is formed from cross-linked amino acids. The slurry is then spray-dried to create the finished ingredient. Coascervate powders are mechanically stable, heat-stable, pH-stable and have a flavor that is not fishy.”

Applications for use of coacervate or other forms of omega-3 fatty acids include beverages, bars, crackers, gummies and many other commercial food products—like peanut butter, tortillas, juice, yogurt, bread and more.

“Health Benefits & Applications of Nutritional Lipids,” Todd Katz, senior manager, technical marketing, DSM Nutritional Products, 973-257-8335, todd.katz@dsm.com 
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Key Considerations in the Formulation of Nutrient Premixes

Nutrient premixes are more than just a blend; they are customized mixes of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and other nutraceuticals. When adding nutrient mixes to a formulation, the important physical characteristics to consider include stability, color and flavor. Vitamins and minerals impart varying characteristics to a product, some of which are not wanted. 

For example, thiamine (vitamin B1) is a white powder, readily soluble in water, that can be agglomerated or coated, depending on need. It has poor taste qualities, and the mononitrate form has a bad odor. Stability is low under most conditions—worst in solution. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a yellow powder that is readily soluble in water. It also can be agglomerated or coated, and while its stability is better than B1, color can be an issue.

Many minerals (both macro and micro) are commonly used in fortification. Calcium, for example, is available in many different forms with varying activity and cost. The finished product characteristics determine the form of calcium to use, which often takes experimentation.

“When choosing nutrient sources,” advised Alice Wilkinson, vice president of Nutritional Innovation for Watson Inc., “start with the label.” Wilkinson spoke on this topic at PF’s R&D Seminars in a presentation titled “Key Considerations in the Formulation of Nutrient Premixes.”

The desired labeled amount tells how much is needed in the formula. Understanding the finished products helps determine which form of vitamins and minerals are chosen. Functionality and processing also are important considerations. Finished product attributes to consider include, for example, that tablets need to compress well and have a longer shelflife. Powdered beverages tend to segregate, and/or have shelflife and packaging concerns. RTD beverages often encounter liquid system interactions with pH, texture or flavor. Processing, packaging and shelflife are concerns. Bars can be baked or cold-formed; when fortified, flavor, shelflife, stability and nutrient interactions can be concerns.

Processing conditions need consideration. Thermal treatment, such as baking, extrusion or pasteurization, can impact premix addition, mixing conditions, packaging and shelflife expectations. Sensory properties affected by fortification may include color, flavor, texture or background contribution. Particle size can be adjusted by milling and micronizing, which can eliminate stratification and assure particle-size compatibility. Increased surface area of smaller particles can improve dispersibility. Unique particle sizes can be created for textural and other functional effects, including emulsions and micro-emulsions.

Wilkinson explained that fluid bed granulation (binding of powders together) allows for combination of multiple powders into one particle. Top-spray granulation can improve flowability, dispersibility, dissolution and compressibility; and it reduces dustiness, static problems, segregation of components, tablet friability and punch wear. Product uniformity is improved. Micro-encapsulation can mask flavors and odors, provide modified release profiles and barrier coating for enhanced stability. Encapsulation can be done with paraffin or carnauba wax; fractionated or hydrogenated palm oil; mono- and diglycerides or distilled monoglycerides; and hydrogenated cottonseed, soybean or castor oils.

Many blending technologies are available to manufacture products. Premix design also helps to balance functionality with cost. Choice is key to success. Spending time up-front understanding the product and premix options can save time overall, because premixes are not just a blend. Premixes are blended with regulations in mind; are provided with certificates of analysis for quality; and can save time and reduce risk. Premixes are a creative solution, blended by expert chemists and scientists, with experience in multiple industries. 

“Key Considerations in the Formulation of Nutrient Premixes,” Alice Wilkinson, VP–Nutritional Innovation, Watson Inc., 203-932-3000, alice.wilkinson@watson-inc.com 
—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Originally appeared in the March, 2016 issue of Prepared Foods as Formulating for Health.