Value in fortifying

by Jeff Gelski
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One may wonder if the economic turmoil may throw the fortified foods market off kilter. The food and beverage industry may respond by stating that staying healthy generally is a smart financial option, especially with increasing health care costs. Ingredient suppliers, meanwhile, point to how their fortification options may lead to healthier products.

Positive news for fortified products, and health and wellness in general, was heard at a recent webinar entitled "Consumer Attitudes on Health and Wellness: Can You Position Your Healthy Products for Success in an Unhealthy Economy?" St. Louis-based The Solae Co. sponsored the webinar.

"Health and wellness probably trumps the economy," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of consulting for Mintel Custom Solutions. "It’s a part of their life they (consumers) can control."

Instead of buying fewer products promoted for health benefits at the retail level, consumers may cut back on eating out or traveling, she said.

Euromonitor International, London, does not expect sales of nutritious foods to decrease globally, said Ewa Hudson, head of health and wellness, Food & Beverages Research, for Euromonitor International and another webinar speaker.

"This economy is no time to be ill," she said. "Some people have lost medical coverage and need to look after their health."

Consumers will spend wisely on health-oriented products, said Tony Keller, president of TandemRain Innovations, Vancouver, Wash.

"Today’s consumers, in light of the current economy, are increasing their skills when it comes to evaluating foods and beverages to focus more on value than price," he said. "This shift in focus has led to a careful examination of the value of products they are consuming, as consumers are looking more carefully at Daily Values, fat level, grams of protein, etc."

Increased consumer awareness and watchdog groups will hold the fortified food and beverage industry more accountable, Mr. Keller said.

"Full dosages of fortified ingredients or at least complete disclosure are important factors for the consumer when they are evaluating the value-driven purchase of fortified foods and beverages," he said.

Having scientific studies to back up ingredients’ fortifying benefits also may prove beneficial. For example, high menaquinone intake (vitamin K2) reduces the incidence of heart disease in women, according to an article posted on-line Jan. 28 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

"K2 studies are being provided to multiple companies every day, and our customers are promoting the products direct to the consumer," said Rodger M. Jonas, director of national sales for P.L. Thomas, Morristown, N.J.

P.L. Thomas offers MenaQ7, which contains menaquinone-7, through an agreement with NattoPharma, based in Norway. Earlier this year NattoPharma and Danisco signed supply, marketing and licensing agreements that will lead to the two companies partnering to market MenaQ7 to the global food industry, including North America.

Right now vitamin K2 is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in dairy products, Mr. Jonas said. Ice cream and smoothie products on the market contain the vitamin, Mr. Jonas said. He added efforts are under way to expand the GRAS approval to more products.

Studies have shown vitamin K2 directs calcium away from arteries and into bones, thus providing benefits in both heart health and bone health.

Calcium also is linked to bone health, and other health benefits are emerging. Women with higher intake of calcium appear to have a lower risk of cancer overall, according to a report in the Feb. 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from 293,907 men and 196,903 women who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., included calcium in chocolate chews designed for bone health that were featured at Natural Products Expo West/Supply Expo in March in Anaheim, Calif. The chocolate chews included GTC Nutrition ingredients NutraFlora prebiotic fiber and Aquamin natural calcified mineral source.

Aquamin, derived from sea algae, is a mineral matrix of vegetative origin that is high in calcium and magnesium for improving bone and joint health. Its porous structure consists of calcite, aragonite and vaterite, which makes Aquamin a stable and versatile source of non-dairy calcium, according to GTC Nutrition.

Inhibiting fatty liver, improving memory and providing cardiovascular performance are benefits listed for choline by Balchem Corp., New Hampton, N.Y. The company also promotes how choline may be a cost-effective ingredient. The adequate intake of choline is 550 mg, which may be achieved at a cost of 0.7c per day, according to Balchem Corp. Choline has found its way into juice, infant formula, cereal and bottled water.

Studies show need for vitamin D

Studies, government action and published reports in 2009 continue to show consumers need more vitamin D:

Blood levels decrease

Average blood levels of vitamin D appear to have decreased in Americans over the past 20 years, according to a report in the March 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, compared levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a measure of the amount of vitamin D in the blood, from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) collected between 1988 and 1994 with those collected during NHANES 2001-04. The level decreased from 30 nanograms per milliliter during 1988-94 to 24 nanograms per milliliter during 2001-04.

"Current recommendations for dosage of vitamin D supplements are inadequate to address this growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency," the researchers said. They recommended increased intake of vitamin D of 1,000 International Units (I.U.) per day or more, particularly during the winter months and at higher latitude.

Current recommended levels from the Institute of Medicine are 200 I.U. per day from birth to age 50, 400 I.U. per day from age 51 to 70 and 600 I.U. per day from age 71 and older.

Vitamin D2 may be used in soy foods

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the safe use of vitamin D2 as a nutrient supplement in soy-based food products, according to a March 16 listing in the Federal Register. Written or electronic objections and requests for a hearing must be submitted by April 15.

The action is in response to a petition filed by Dean Foods, Horsham, Pa., and published in the Oct. 4, 2007, Federal Register. It proposed to amend the food additive regulations in part 172 "Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption." The petition pertained only to the use of crystalline vitamin D2 and not the resin form. Products identified were soy beverages, soy beverage products, soy-based butter substitute spreads, soy-based cheese substitutes and soy-based cheese substitute products.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, March 31, 2009, starting on Page 19. Click here to search that archive.

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