Taking the Guesswork Out of Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin and mineral trends are global, with Asia-Pacific to become the fastest growing market.
The global market for fortified foods and beverages was estimated to be valued at nearly $106B in 2018, according to research by Bekryl Market Analysts. The group’s 2018 report also noted that the market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1%. Such growth is forecast to create revenue of nearly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. While North America and Europe are currently the major markets for wellness foods and beverages, the trend is global, with Asia-Pacific likely to become the fastest growing market.
According to research from Mintel, annual sales of vitamins, minerals, and supplements increased by about 5% last year, and are currently around $25B, having more than doubled since 2012. Yet surveys consistently show that consumers wish to get their “supplements” from foods and beverages.
Rising disposable income levels and a growing interest in recreational fitness and preventive healthcare have boosted demand for fortified products and herbal supplements, especially in the sports nutrition category, according to IBIS World’s 2018 research report.
“To best position themselves in the vitamins-minerals space, category players should listen to consumers and respond to concerns around what they feel are current important issues,” notes Michelle Gillespie, natural insights analyst at SPINS Data Co., LLC. Gillespie specifically cites such health and well-being issues such as “improving brain function, supporting eye health (due to increased hours spent in front of computers), and promoting mind-body relaxation and restful sleep, in order to drive sales growth.”
For developers and manufacturers of foods and beverages targeting such concerns, vitamins and minerals in combinations and formats suitable for easy fortification can bring precision and consistency to the process of making new products for this large, rapidly expanding, and highly competitive market.
The right kind of fortification depends, of course, on what is being fortified, the medium carrying that fortification, and the consumer needs it intends to address. One of the most important parameters in such fortification is solubility. Including a vitamin or mineral in a beverage, bar, or snack does not necessarily mean it will end up being absorbed by the body.
Water-soluble forms of the minerals calcium, magnesium, and zinc — such as their citrate or ascorbate salts — can be easily incorporated into products such as nutrition bars, gummies, beverages, and baked goods, with improved bioavailability and minimal impact on taste. Researchers are constantly working to enhance bioavailability of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Magnesium is a good example of a mineral that has benefited from such advances. A novel ingredient has been developed that could improve the intestinal absorption of the needed mineral. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that a magnesium oxide ingredient protected by a liposomal-like structure was absorbed more quickly and at a higher rate than a standard formulation of magnesium oxide.
Electrolytes are minerals that have multiple functions in the body, including maintaining water balance and supporting muscle, nerve, and heart health. Substances that form negative or positive ions in solution are called electrolytes. The six most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate. All are lost in perspiration to varying degrees, along with water.
In addition to the macro-essential electrolytes — calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium — there are also the micro-essential electrolytes, which are required in smaller amounts. These include selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. Since these are lost through perspiration, it is especially important to stay properly hydrated when exercising. Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, fatigue, leg cramps, sluggishness, and even hunger. Interestingly, jet lag and even hangovers are also indicators of dehydration.
The minerals calcium, magnesium, and zinc play multiple pivotal roles in the body. In addition to its major function in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, calcium is important in the activity of many enzymes in the body. The contraction of muscles, release of neurotransmitters, regulation of heartbeat, and even the clotting of blood are dependent on proper calcium levels.
In the world of minerals, while calcium-fortified products and supplements have dominated the market for years, it appears there is about to be a takeover. Data from SPINS in 2017 showed that sales of magnesium- and zinc-fortified products increased by 7.9% and 29.7%, respectively, over the prior year. The sales gains have been attributed to the growing population of older Americans, availability of convenient dosage forms, and the steady proliferation of sports nutrition products.
A Functional Fungus Among Us
Koji (Aspergillus oryzae) is a fungus that has been used for more than 2,000 years in Asia to produce popular fermented foods such as sake, miso, and soy sauce. A global nutraceutical company has launched two uniquely fermented mineral products. One is an iron (ferrous sulfate) product and the other is a blend providing 25% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of seven minerals: iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, and chromium. Through the fermentation process, the koji culture can absorb up to 10% of its biomass as minerals. While most iron supplements in the market are absorbed quickly, potentially leading to iron overload and increased side effects, both of these products provide slower release and increased bioavailability, as demonstrated in human clinical trials.
Both magnesium and zinc are required components for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium assists with maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, keeps the heartbeat steady, helps regulate blood glucose levels, plays a role in relaxation and mental health, and aids in the production of energy and protein.
Zinc plays an active role in fertility, sexual health, and prostate health, and is vital for a healthy immune system. It also assists in regulating cell division and cell growth and promotes wound healing. As many as one in five persons suffers from zinc deficiency. In some groups, such as the elderly, up to 40% are lacking in the mineral.
Information provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that the diets of most Americans are deficient in magnesium as well. Such a deficiency can lead to a number of disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and even depression. There are a number of magnesium compounds on the market, each containing different amounts of this important mineral and having different aqueous solubilities.
Partnering with a vitamin- mineral premix supplier can help manufacturers determine which nutrients, forms, and levels will be needed for their final product. Typically, an overage is added for certain nutrients to ensure their potency throughout the product’s shelf life. Overages can be added at levels of anywhere from 5-100%, depending upon how susceptible a particular nutrient is to degradation.
Generally, while the oxide and carbonate salt forms of magnesium have a higher level of the elemental mineral, they also are less soluble and not well absorbed. Other magnesium compounds, such as magnesium L-threonate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium aspartate (magnesium chelated with the amino acid), are more soluble but also more expensive, especially for use in product formulations. Compounds with citrates, malates, gluconates, and chloride are generally preferred, and have the added advantage of having a mild or neutral taste.
While magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonate contain 60.3% and 28.8% elemental magnesium, respectively, most of the other compounds contain far less magnesium, meaning a formulator will need to add more to the recipe in order to achieve a desired level. Although an oxide form can be used in a solid product, a chloride or malate form would be a better choice for a beverage because of solubility.
A Good Mix
Effervescent tablets or powdered stick packs are ideal delivery vehicles when there are a number of nutrients that need to be easily dissolvable for incorporation into a beverage. Often, these are marketed to consumers for enjoying “on the go.” The two formats can be easily carried, then added to a water bottle, and the product is ready to be consumed in less than a minute.
Water-soluble vitamins such as B and C, as well as mineral forms such as chlorides, lactates, and gluconates, are all transparent or near-transparent in aqueous solution. So, too, are microencapsulated lipid-soluble ingredients, like vitamins D and E, as well as some of the vitamin A-like carotenoid compounds, including astaxanthin, lutein, and lycopene. And, with the right microencapsulation medium, lipid-soluble ingredients such as curcumin can be added to the clear beverage fortification toolbox. Cyclodextrins have proven especially effective for encapsulating curcumin.
Clarity is a function of solubility. If a nutrient is soluble in water at a certain pH level, then it will remain clear unless the system is altered. Sometimes nutrients can react with each other to produce negative flavor and color changes in a beverage product.
In many tea-based or high-polyphenolic beverage applications, iron in its ferrous divalent (+2) form will react immediately to form a gray-black precipitate in the presence of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Ferrous iron also reacts with calcium carbonate, forming brown specs in heat-processed products. Utilizing a stabilized ferrous sulfate instead can prevent this from happening.
Fruit juice products have a more acidic pH, and this helps with dissolving certain minerals, such as calcium. Tricalcium phosphate is used to fortify orange juice and the pH helps this calcium compound remain soluble and stable during the product’s shelf life.
Many of these degradative chemical reactions between nutrients can be managed through the appropriate use of the proper chemical form and also via prudent processing conditions. For example, vitamin B1 (thiamin) will degrade in the presence of carnitine, a nutrient sometimes found in beverages designed to help build muscle. If a company is careful to manage the addition of the nutrient pre-blends during the manufacturing operation, some of these issues can be minimized. Most suppliers will have ingredient technologists available to help determine precise types, levels, and combinations of these ingredients to ensure no off flavors or colors occur.
Without a Trace
The body requires 10 particular minerals in trace amounts in order to function. These so-called trace minerals are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, vanadium, and zinc. Those required in amounts measured in micrograms versus milligrams are informally referred to as “ultra-trace” minerals.
Vanadium is an ultra-trace mineral found in a variety of foods, with common sources being shellfish, mushrooms, and parsley. Its main potential benefit is in helping to control blood sugar. Another ultra-trace mineral, molybdenum, acts as a catalyst for enzymes and helps facilitate the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body.
While it is best to obtain these important ingredients by consuming a variety of foods in a balanced diet, many Americans are stressed and overworked and eat empty- calorie foods that are often deficient in trace minerals. The form of such minerals can affect how well they are utilized by the body.
“Colloidal minerals are groups of mineral-containing molecules suspended in solution,” says Darrin Starkey, ND, manager of education and training at Trace Minerals Research Co. “Because of their larger sizes, colloidal minerals are unable to penetrate the semi-permeable membrane of human cells and must be broken down into distinct mineral ions by the digestive system before they are assimilated. Ionic minerals are more easily assimilated by the body. They have either a positive or negative charge, are smaller in size, and help create the proper pH balance in the blood.”
Trace Minerals Research has developed a line of effervescent powdered vitamin and mineral blends in sachets. Each sachet includes 100 mg of ionic trace mineral electrolytes derived from seawater. The effervescent format provides an easy-to-use drinkable solution to meeting daily mineral needs.
Premixes are used to fortify products in a variety of categories, including functional waters, gummies, meal replacements, baked goods, energy drinks and shots, teas and coffees, and ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. Premixes can also be tailored to certain therapeutic categories, such as bone health, heart health, cognitive health, and weight management.
There are a number of different forms of fortified beverages available on the market, most often in formats of carbonated or still liquids, energy shots, and powdered mixes. Typically, a company develops several flavors around a core product brand. LifeAID Beverage Co. decided to do things differently. The company created a line of six beverages, each geared to consumers with a specific lifestyle.
The line includes several formulations of FitAID and RxFitAID, FocusAID, and ImmunityAID. There is even a GolferAID (containing functional ingredients to enhance performance on the links) and PartyAID, a beverage to be enjoyed before, during, or after a party to help restore essential nutrients your body and mind need after a night of fun. In addition to seven B vitamins and minerals, the products contain a proprietary blend of supplements. These can include:
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) to improve mood and help avoid energy “crash”
- L-carnitine to support energy production and metabolism
- L-tyrosine to help brain function during fatigue
- Milk thistle extract to protect the liver from toxins
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also called eleuthero root extract, an adaptogen that helps to reduce stress
Such semi-customization of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds designed to address specific conditions has enjoyed a healthy measure of success in the market. While not quite “personalized nutrition,” these products can at once appeal to a designated segment of consumers while being attractive to a much wider audience. While they are predominantly used in beverage formulations, opportunities exist to bring tailored fortification into
One example would be a line of “heat and eat” meals designed to provide a boost of necessary nutrients to seniors, or teens, or busy parents.
Cofee, Tea Or…
According to a recent survey by Meredith Corp.’s Fortune magazine, more than half of all Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day. VitaCup, Inc., developed a line of vitamin-fortified coffees and teas that can be used in the Keurig coffee maker. The company’s “Genius Blend” coffee pods deliver five B vitamins and an extra 40 mg of antioxidants from turmeric and cinnamon.
B vitamins are ideal to use in such a format because they are water-soluble and do not significantly impact the product’s taste. Also included is a water-soluble form of vitamin D3, a nutrient considered to be deficient in the average American diet. While the levels of four of the B vitamins range from 25% to 300% of their daily values, the level of added vitamin B12, at 240µg, equals 4,000% of the daily value and is designed to give consumers an energy boost.
RTD teas generated sales of more than $1.34 billion in the US in 2018. This was an 8.1% increase over the prior year, according to Information Resources Inc. One company riding that wave is the Coca-Cola Co., with its Fuze line of vitamin-infused RTD tea beverages in such flavors as Peach black tea and Tropical Mango green tea.
These functional beverages contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, at 25%, 50%, and 100% of their daily value, respectively. Vitamin B12 is not only a popular addition in energy drinks, but it is also a boon for vegan consumers, since their plant-based diet makes it more difficult to obtain this important nutrient.
The global energy drinks market is expected to reach nearly $85B by 2025, following a CAGR of 7% since 2017, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Both young and older consumers are attracted to these beverages, which promise to keep them healthy and active and improve their athletic or cognitive performance.
While the market segment for teenagers generated revenue north of $16B, that for seniors is not far behind, forecast to hit at least $12B by 2025. Energy drinks are sold in a variety of formats, from carbonated RTD beverages to smoothies, powders, and shots.
These typically contain a variety of nutrients, from vitamin and mineral complexes to botanicals to sugars (either simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, or sucrose to such functional sweeteners such as ribose), to plant or dairy proteins and microencapsulated lipid-soluble fortifications, such as omega fatty acids.
The powdered products are often effervescent and come in an easily dispensable stick pack, plastic tube, or sachet. The effervescence, or fizzy action, utilizes acid-base chemistry via a reaction between sodium and/or potassium bicarbonate with an acidic ingredient, such as citric and/or malic acid. The levels of these ingredients can be adjusted to modify the amount of fizz, while having little impact on the drink’s flavor.
Flavor is important in such powdered carbonated beverage mixes, as the bicarbonates can have some bitter or “soapy” off flavors. This reaction generates carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles, which helps the nutrients dissolve into solution once the powder is added to water.
One recent example of such powdered, vitamin-boosted drink mixes is Zipfizz Healthy Energy Mix from Zipfizz Corp. The powder contains 19 vitamins and minerals, including all eight B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin C (500 mg, 833% of daily value). Zipfizz’s “signature” vitamin, however, is B12, with 2,500 µg, a whopping 41,667% of daily value. The product comes in 13 flavors including pink grapefruit, fruit punch, and berry; it also is sugar free and contains 100mg caffeine — about the same amount as a cup of coffee.
The “shot” form of beverage — typically about 50ml (about 2 fl. oz.) — has become incredibly popular over the past decade. An interesting aspect of these shots is that flavor is secondary for most consumers.
One of the leaders in the energy beverage shot field, Living Essentials LLC’s 5-hour ENERGY shots, contain a proprietary blend of ingredients such as B vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients. They contain no sugar and each shot delivers only 4 kcals.
The company’s “regular strength” shots contain about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, while the “extra strength” version contains about as much caffeine as a cup and a half. The regular strength products contain niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 at 150%, 2,000%, 100%, and 8,333% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), respectively. In 2018, the company also launched a line of tea shots that use caffeine naturally derived from green tea. As an added energy boost, they also contain 500µg of B12 — 20,833% of the RDA for the vitamin.
People are active and living longer than ever and have strong motivation to stay healthy. The youngest of the Baby Boomers are now 55, and the oldest are approaching 75. Add those factors to the popularity of health and wellness products among consumers 18-45 years of age, and it’s clear that consumer demand for great-tasting, high-quality, functional fortified food and beverage products will only continue to grow.
Originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Prepared Foods as Vitally Yours.