Vitamin D has attracted considerable interest in the scientific community and among functional food makers in recent years due to a raft of studies into its benefits – not only to support calcium metabolism and bone health, but for a range of other health outcomes too, including heart health, weight management, immunity, cognitive function, menopause symptoms and skin health.
Vitamin D is primarily made in the skin on direct exposure to sunlight, with limited amounts coming from food sources. There are concerns that some populations who have limited sun exposure or darker skin, may not receive the vitamin D they need for optimal health.
The current recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 5 micrograms per day, or 300 international units (IU), however some academics have recommended that this be raised as high as 2100 to 3100 IU/d all year round for people with darker skins.
Although functional beverages are proving to be a popular format for receiving additional nutrients, vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol, understood to be the most potent precursor to vitamin D) has been challenging as it is normally fat-soluble.
LycroRed has overcome this challenge by microencapsulating the vitamin, resulting in an ingredient that is water dispersible, and protected against light, oxidation and acids that would otherwise deactivate the vitamin.
Udi Alroy, VP global sales and marketing, said the development was made because the company’s customers required a highly soluble vitamin D3 for their formulations.
“Our goal was to combine our customers’ variety of needs for solubility, termperature resistance and clarity into one winning formula,” he said.
Functional beverages grew at an impressive rate of 8 per cent per year on a global basis between 2003 and 2008, according to market researcher Zenith International, although growth did slow subsequently as a result of the recession.
Vitamin waters have garnered particular interest in the last few years, no least because of some high value acquisitions, such as Coca-Cola's US$4.1bn acquisition of Glacéau in 2007.