Plate of products containing magnesium
Packaged Facts has identified magnesium as an “up and coming dietary mineral."

KANSAS CITY — Packaged Facts has identified magnesium as an “up and coming dietary mineral” in its report “Functional foods: Key trends and development in ingredients.”

The Rockville, Md.-based research company noted that the focus today on whole foods and natural food sources may result in product formulations that contain foods naturally rich in magnesium. The report further noted dairy products, dairy substitutes, cereals, bread, baby food, food supplements, bars and beverages will be at the forefront of the trend.

David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts
David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts

“While magnesium, sometimes termed an 'orphan' mineral, has been quietly added to some breakfast cereals for decades to replace that lost in processing, we see this dietary mineral emerging as an important nutrient for promoting wellness that will experience a noteworthy increase in the number of processors and consumers seeking it out to help them avoid and improve a wide range of health issues,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.

The increased attention will translate into more food and beverage companies making “good source” claims on packaging, according to Packaged Facts. Products that may be on the leading edge of the trend will be those that are naturally occurring in magnesium, including nuts and seeds as well as nuts and seeds spreads and butters, cereal bars, whole grain bread and crackers.

Despite an abundance of magnesium in the food supply, magnesium intake by U.S. adults ranges from 60% to 80% of the recommended daily amount (R.D.A.), according to the functional foods report. Magnesium intake reportedly declined from a high of 500 mg per day in 1900 to just 175 mg to 225 mg per day today, Packaged Facts said. The decline has been attributed to grain processing that removes the magnesium-rich bran and germ layers and to fast-food menus that are typically deficient in magnesium-rich vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

For food and beverage processors interested in fortifying products with magnesium, there are several issues to consider, said Alice L. Wilkinson, vice-president of nutritional innovation for Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn.

“Magnesium is a high dose nutrient, meaning that it consumes a fair amount of weight in a finished formulation,” she said “The D.V. is 400 mg and there is no ‘pure’ magnesium to be used as a nutrient. A common choice is dimagnesium phosphate (D.M.P.), which is approximately 14% magnesium and 18% phosphorus. To deliver 100% D.V. for magnesium as D.M.P., you will be using over 2.85 grams of product.

“Magnesium oxide is slightly better at ~60% magnesium, which calculates to 0.67 g.  Regardless of choice, using magnesium as a nutrient will have a much larger impact on a formulation than the same D.V. for other minerals like copper or zinc just based on the space it will consume. It can negatively impact flavor, initiate oxidation and change pH just to name a few.”

Protein shake and granola bar
Products like nutritional shakes and bars are good delivery systems for magnesium.

Ms. Wilkinson said opaque products like nutritional shakes are a good delivery system for the nutrient as well as bakery products, bars and cereals.

“Clear beverages can be more challenging as the more common sources of magnesium are not highly soluble,” she said. “We have seen an increased interest in a more soluble magnesium citrate recently and this has opened the doors for use in gummy applications and other novel delivery systems.”

Ms. Wilkinson added that magnesium can be an initiator of instability in other nutrients that are in close proximity. She said a good example would be vitamin K.

“Where possible, it can be advantageous to encapsulate magnesium to create a barrier between it and other more sensitive ingredients,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “Encapsulation can also improve overall flavor of a product because of its taste-masking properties.

“Overall, magnesium may be a challenging nutrient to fortify with although it can be done successfully with a little extra development effort. It may mean testing several forms and formulations but that time is well worth the extra effort in the end.”