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Not So Heavy Metal: Formulating with Minerals

Minerals Minerals
AIDP

The mineral kingdom provides many elements humans require for homeostasis—although this is far from news, consumers equate foods and beverages that have superior mineral content with “good for me.” For example, if your company creates a healthy cereal pack with no fortified minerals and the competition has something very similar but with “added calcium and iron!” the consumer will likely select the competition.

According to Thierry Roulet, head of North American operations for New York-based DPL-US, foods that are easily fortified with minerals, in general, include beverages, cereals and cereal bars, milk and dairy products, dry and processed foods.

Max Motyka, consultant to Utah-based Albion Minerals, agreed for the most part, noting that it may be easy to think that fortifying foods with healthy minerals may be quite challenging, however, it is certain forms of minerals that are the difference between effective and ineffective formulation. He pointed out that dairy products, such as milk, UHT milk, margarine and yogurts, are well suited to fortification with certain forms of iron, zinc and calcium. “Ferrous bisglycinate chelate is an excellent form of iron to fortify dairy products,” he explained. “However, ferrous sulfate is not. Rice, sugar and salt are difficult to fortify, unless the right mineral form is used. Meats, vegetables and fruit are not easily fortified. Generally, foods all present different challenges for fortification—the choice of the right form of the mineral is the key.”

Using calcium carbonate as an example, Adrian Jäger, business development manager, Omya International AG, headquartered in Switzerland, explained that foods that are easily fortified with this particular form of calcium include baby foods, neutral beverages, cereals, snacks or baked goods. “Because Omya minerals have a small particle size, there is no change in the taste of the products,” he said. In liquid applications, he added for example, the fine particles remain in suspension for longer, which means that consumers obtain the calcium dose they expect because it does not stick to the bottom of the bottle or form a sediment).

Foods that aren’t easily fortified with calcium carbonate include acidic beverages, meat or fruit preparations. When the pH-value is too acidic, Jäger explained, calcium carbonate dissolves. As a result, carbon dioxide is released and distends the product packaging. Furthermore, the chemical reaction creates a bland taste and reduces the quality.

“With a high calcium content of approximately 40 percent, Omya’s Calcipur calcium carbonate offers considerable benefits as a fortification agent,” Jäger described. He added that up to five times less Calcipur is required than other available technical solutions to attain the same calcium dose in a finished food product; therefore, manufacturers can minimize the cost of supplementation.

Addressing Difficulties

Like individual people, each element has its own inherent challenges. With regard to calcium carbonate, noted Jäger, pH stability is one of the major challenges that has to be considered when fortifying foods.

In general, according to Roulet, considerations that can impart challenges when formulating with specific minerals and their forms include taste, solubility, color, metal content, and even production processes.

More specifically, Motyka pointed out, some minerals pose solubility issues in some foods, while others (eg zinc and iron), will present palatability issues. Further, bioavailability of other mineral forms may be compromised in certain foods. And organoleptically, some minerals give an off taste, odor, color or texture.

When it comes to typical iron, he noted, lozenges, chewables and beverages fortified with it can tend to impart a metallic aftertaste that many consumers find unappealing. In fact, when this exists, approximately 87 percent of doctors in a survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that this taste factor is a significant reason for non-compliance.

Albion’s Iron Taste Free was developed to address this issue. “Several clinical studies have shown a greater absorption rate for Iron Taste Free than with ferrous sulfate,” Motyka reported. “Researchers found that electrochemical neutrality, charge balance, and low solubility give Iron Taste Free stability and sensory quality advantages. Iron Taste Free has been shown to be an effective way to treat and prevent iron deficiency anemia due to its bioavailability and safety.”

Sourcing for Safety

When most people think of minerals, they picture caves, mines and veins flowing underneath the ground. True to an extent, noted Patrick Stano vice president, sales and marketing, North America, DPL-USA. “Various minerals for health are mined from throughout the world, and most are manufactured by chemical synthesis. The chemical reaction is very simple: Acid + Base -> Salt + Water,” he explained.

And with the deeper recesses of the earth as the environment for minerals, safety for consumption may be questioned. In the case of calcium carbonate, said Jäger, mineral deposits are carefully selected to guarantee that only food-grade raw materials are used. In doing so, he stated, the concentrations of any potentially harmful components in Omya products fall significantly below the legal thresholds. “Our company complies with very strict regulations and ensures that any heavy metal contaminants are kept to an absolute minimum—a vital aspect for producers of baby foods for example,” he commented.

Additionally, Jäger assured, Omya’s production plant is GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), ISO 22000 and ISO 9001 compliant, and also has halal and kosher certificates. Furthermore, selected products meet USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia), FCC (Food Chemiacls Codex) and E170 requirements.

According to Motyka, Albion uses USP or FCC quality starting materials. The mineral ingredients that Albion manufactures undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are hypoallergenic, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, pharmaceutically pure, clinically researched, chemically validated by Albion’s patented FT-IR process, GMO (genetically modified organism)- and BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy)-free, industry certified ISO (Internal Organization for Standardization) and GMP (good manufacturing practice), as well as kosher and halal certified. Albion uniquely validates the molecular structure of each lot of its finished mineral ingredients via Fast-Fourier Transforming Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), a technology that gives a “fingerprint” of the structures.

For chelated minerals, he said, Albion selects only the most nutritionally functional and effective ligands to convert minerals to organic, chelated forms by selecting amino acid ligands that are correct in size, molecular structure and bonding strength to protect the mineral. Glycine is Albion’s most commonly used molecule for chelation of minerals; this amino acid is recognized by the body and is efficiently absorbed across the intestinal wall. When the glycine is fully reacted with the mineral ion, the resulting chelate molecule is stable and small enough for effective absorption. “When your product contains minerals chelated with amino acids, it is more bioavailable and easily metabolized,” Motyka pointed out. “Many factors can interfere with the body’s natural ability to convert inorganic minerals into an organic form. Over decades of continuous research, Albion has secured multiple patents specifically related to mineral chelation.”

Further, Motyka explained, the manufacturing process used to bind minerals with ligands will have a direct impact on the quality of the nutritional value and absorption of the finished product. “Inexpensive processes, such as dry mixing, do not create fully reacted mineral chelates. Albion uses a highly controlled manufacturing process that optimizes the chemical molecular ratios and reactions necessary for chelation. In addition, Albion has customized its manufacturing process for each combination of mineral and organic ligand and has acquired a multitude of patents relating to its bonding and manufacturing processes,” he stated.

A 2014 report entitled, “Global Market Study on Mineral Supplements” published by Persistence Market Research, stated that the largest mineral supplements market is North America. Due to the combination of a growing aging population and increased disposable income, Asia Pacific is expected to become a robust mineral supplement market by 2020. The authors of the report asserted, “With increasing awareness about daily nutritional requirements, more consumers are expected to start consuming mineral supplements in the coming years thus driving the mineral supplements market.”

Increased technological sophistication of mineral sourcing and processing, research, and food and beverage technology that can now safely and effectively utilize absorbable minerals has created numerous opportunities for mineral-fortified products that consumers will rely upon. NIE

For More Information:
Albion, (800) 453-2406
DPL-US, 631-851-8810
Omya International, www.omya.com