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Microen Capsulation: Perfect Little Nutrition Worlds

Albion Minerals®

For centuries, the idea of a microcosm fascinated scientists and dreamers alike. In the modern era of dietary supplements, that concept has triggered a magnificent technology, microencapsulation, which has multiple benefits for not only production, but for the end-user. And more than ever, an increasing number of consumers are quite discerning about the supplements they choose to support their health and well being: the supplement market in the U. S. is expected to reach $15.5 billion in 2017—a huge leap from $11.5 billion in 2012, according to Packaged Facts.

There are several key reasons why microencapsulation makes sense for formulas.

Natural elements can be finicky if not downright cantankerous to work with. Vitamin MK-7, according to Mona Moller, chief science officer with Norway-based Kappa Bioscience AS, is one example. The first reason is that it is well known that this K vitamin is light sensitive and processing must be performed without light exposure. “It has recently been realized that MK-7 is not stable in the presence of different minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This challenge is independent of MK-7 source.” Moller reports that Kappa Bioscience has, in partnership with one of the world’s leading life science companies, developed a microencapsulated, double-coated MK- 7—K2VITAL DELTA—that has been shown to exhibit high stability when combined with minerals.

The human gastrointestinal (GI) system poses an often-demanding environment for supplements. Joshua Guarino, product manager with New York-based Maypro Industries LLC, explained that the GI system can vary in water-to-fat content, thus making the transportation of active compounds to their absorption sites difficult to maintain (i.e., water-soluble actives often pass through the body before they can be absorbed fully). Additionally, the harsh environment in the stomach and natural metabolic processes may disassemble these actives into less useful forms that already often exist in the body.

“Not all microencapsulation technologies can address these obstacles,” Guarino said. “Our MicroActive technology encapsulates a micronized form of an active ingredient so that it may be protected from stomach acid exposure. The resulting ingredient facilitates the transport of intact active compounds to their absorption sites, releasing them over time to maximize exposure. Absorption is further facilitated through the use of bio-adhesive polymers that slow the movement of the active through our digestive tracts.” 

Another stability issue—that of the product sitting on the shelf waiting to be purchased—is a consideration. According to Doug Lynch, vice president of business development (North America) with LycoRed, the primary reasons customers ask his company (with offices in New Jersey) to microencapsulate include increasing stability and shelf life for actives. Additionally, its microencapsulation technology minimizes the need for overage in formulations in order to meet shelf life, which is critical for formulary or regulatory concerns that limit adding actives above the label claim.

“Another reason to use microencapsulation involves reducing hygroscopicity and improving the flow-ability and compressibility of powders, especially oil-soluble actives such as carotenoids and vitamins D2, D3 and K1, or combinations of powders which have different particle sizes and densities in a drum to hopper blend,” he explained. “With this technology, we can also improve taste/odor masking, modify the release profile of an active, and protect against oxidation and prevent ingredients interacting adversely with each other.” 

Answering the Call 

The use of microencapsulation reflects the increasing sophistication of ingredients and formulas to satisfy a rising consumer demand for efficacy and their expectations that the product will meet its label claims. Sam Wright IV, CEO of The Wright Group in Louisiana, said, “In effect, microencapsulation is a method for making individual ingredients work well together in a system. As formulations get more complex, the probabilities of instability and interactivity increase. As consumers continue to show a preference for food bars, gummies, chewables, shots and beverages rather than tablets and capsules, taste and other organoleptic properties become more important, as does preserving stability through demanding processes such as retort and extrusion. All of these factors lend themselves to microencapsulation technologies.”

Microencapsulation can be applied to virtually any formulation. Moller pointed out that other lipophilic vitamins would benefit from such protection: “Vitamin D3 today enjoys a similar protective mechanism,” she said.

Maypro’s MicroActive technology, added Guarino, will encapsulate virtually any active ingredient to provide a natural and fine-tuned microencapsulation. “However, the process does add cost,” he emphasized. “For an inexpensive active ingredient, this added cost overwhelms the value-added and the formulation may become uneconomical.” 

Lycored, according to Lynch, employs different encapsulation technologies depending on the nature of the actives to be encapsulated or the goals of the formulators, sometimes using several different methods within a single pre-mix. There are several factors to be considered:

• What application is the end product (powder beverage, fortified bar or cereal, tablet, gummy);

• If the formulator wants to make the delivery system clear or cloudy;

• Does the product need to be suitable for vegetarians, kosher or halal; and

• If there is a combination of very different powders where LycoRed’s customers want to work with a single, homogenous mixture.

Although more ingredients may now be microencapsulated, according to Wright, there are a couple of holdouts. “Ingredients such as enzymes, which must be available to react, probably are not a good candidate for microencapsulation, unless they are put into a timerelease matrix to control their activity,” he explained. “Probiotics are also challenging since they must be viable after undergoing the microencapsulation process.” 

How It All Works 

Here’s a snapshot of how suppliers innovated their microencapsulation technology. 

According to Kappa’s Moller, menaquinone-7 is affected by mineral sources in consumer products, coupled with processing stress, heat and pressures. This can lead to losses in excess of 60 percent of the original input amount. The double-coated microencapsulation is necessary for protection against all of those elements. Kappa tested a variety of single-coated formulations that Moller said did not give satisfactory protection due to either processing stress or interaction with other ingredients not being addressed correctly. Ultimately, the micro encapsulation double coating of the molecule reduces process related losses to a negligible amount. 

Maypro’s MicroActive technology employs excipients, bio-adhesive polymers, surfactants, oils and cyclodextrin in combinations to match the specific active’s characteristics, according to Guarino. “This proprietary process can allow for payloads of up to 50 percent of the active compound. The final result is a free-flowing and water-dispersible powder that can easily be incorporated into a variety of delivery forms including beverages,” he said, noting that this valueadded appeal can be demonstrated by Maypro’s product, MicroActive Curcumin. “The technology envelopes each particle, removing its strong taste and allowing for comfortable consumption of a product that one would normally hesitate to touch due to its vibrant color.” 

In addition to curcumin, Maypro has applied this technology to BioPQQ, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, and oligonol. 

In-vivo tests have shown that all MicroActive products show sustained release from 12 to 24 hours and greatly increased bioavailability among subjects. “Right now, one of the hottest products in the industry is PQQ (or pyrroloquinoline quinone), a biological co-factor connected with mitochondrial biogenesis, neuroprotection, protection of cardio tissue, and cognitive function support,” said Guarino. “We’ve applied MicroActive technology to BioPQQ for our newest product launch, MicroPQQ. It provides twice greater bioavailability and 12 hours of sustained release.”

The Wright Group has developed a number of proprietary microencapsulation techniques under the SuperCoat and SuperBlend brands. The company, said Wright, is able to utilize a number of manufacturing techniques and a variety of shell materials to tailor products for clients’ specific needs. For example, the company’s SMART (super-micro atomization retention technology) microencapsulation process envelopes particles in a protective shell resulting in very high stability. “We continue to conduct research aimed at optimizing these processes and adding new capabilities,” he said.

New Jersey-based Response Scientific, Inc., has just launched its Microvail microencapsulation technology in the Canadian market. The technology is aimed at improving supplement bioavailability. “The reality is that some of the most promising dietary supplements are poorly bioavailable,” said CEO Gregg Webster. “Our Microvail protective microencapsulation technology delivers a higher percentage of microparticle-formulated nutrients into the bloodstream based upon our internal testing.”

According to Webster, Microvail not only protects nutraceuticals from stomach acids and enzymes, but also features a unique means of time-release by using diffusion, rather than an enteric coating. The microparticles pass through the capsule wall while in transit through the small intestine. The microcapsules continue to release their contents thus maximizing the bioavailability and absorption of microparticle-formulated nutrients into the bloodstream.

The biggest change over the past few years, observed Wright, has been the number and variety of ingredients that have become candidates for some type of microencapsulation. “Microemulsions are another area where we will be doing development work,” he said. “This is the key to putting oil-soluble ingredients such as vitamin E, carotenoids and omega-3 oils, into clear solutions cost effectively.” 

It is clear to see that thinking small is the way to go—when it comes to supplements, it appears that smaller is better. 


Kappa BioScience, www.kappabio.com 
LycoRed, (973) 882-0322 
Maypro Industries, (914) 251-0701 
Response Scientific, Inc., (609) 228-5788 
The Wright Group, (800) 201-3096 

Learn Much More About Microencapsulation

If microencapsulation is in your company’s future, take part in the twoday intensive event—The 9th Industrial Workshop on Microencapsulation: Fundamentals, Market Update and Applications in Food, Dietary Supplements and Pharmaceuticals—to be held in Geneva, Switzerland at the Starling Geneva Hotel, May 8-9, 2014.

The event features numerous seminars, as well as production tour and pilot plant demonstrations. To get a true “taste” of what microencapsulation technology can do, there will be a bevy of product samplings such as chewing gums, canned dough biscuits and rolls, chocolate bars, beef sticks, sour candies and many other miscellaneous products with encapsulated materials.

Workshops include but are not limited to the following: “Applications for Encapsulated Ingredients—Nutraceuticals, Traditional and Functional Foods”; “Materials Used in Encapsulating Bioactives”; “Matrix Encapsulation of Volatiles and Non-Volatiles”; “Stability and Prediction of Shelf-Life of Microencapsulated Flavors and Bioactive Compounds”; “Microencapsulation Applications Case Study: 1) Specialty Oils and 2) Natural Antioxidants”; “Interest of Microencapsulation Applied to Water Insoluble Actives for Use in Aqueous Solutions (Vitamins and Bioactive Compounds)”; and “Microencapsulation of Omega-3’s and Carotenoids Using the BASF Beadlet Technology Process.”

For more information, visit www.bioactivesworld.com.

Albion Minerals®