Scottish firm creates omega-3 fruit juice for children's market

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid functional beverage beverage

A Scottish biotech firm has developed a novel fruit juice fortified
with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

The juice is designed to deliver the health ingredient to children in a more palatale form than capsules.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is key to the good functioning of the brain, nervous and visual systems. It is one of the omega-3 fats currently gaining enormous attention for its health benefits to the heart - some evidence shows they can prevent heart attacks - but studies are also increasingly highlighting its preventative role against mental disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's.

Further, UK research has demonstrated the positive effect of omega-3 fats in alleviating a range of behavioural and learning difficulties in children. But the modern western diet typically does not include enough omega-3 rich foods, such as oily fish, to gain these benefits.

The new DHA-fortified orange juice, developed by Dr Ray Noble from Ayr-based company NP Biotech, is called SupaJus - The Think Drink​ and is being manufactured by the Natural Fruit and Beverage Company.

It is being introduced to UK consumers by the Green Machine distribution network, which provides orange juice for schools, health food chain Holland & Barrett, health centres and sports clubs. Talks are also underway with major supermarket and health and beauty chains, according to the manufacturer.

"A lot of research has been done on DHA, and it has been shown that the minimum daily intake should be at least 200 milligrams a day. However, most people only get around 50 milligrams,"​ said Dr Noble.

"Omega-3 DHA capsules are available, but these are often expensive, and, more importantly, do not lend themselves conveniently to a modern lifestyle, and aren't really suitable for young children. What we want, though, is for people to look upon SupaJus as something they like drinking and as a fun and enjoyable experience,"​ he added.

Parents in the UK, bombarded with messages about the dangers of obesity and the importance of a healthy diet, are beginning to recognise the benefits of health foods for their children and research suggest that this could become an important category for health foods manufacturers.

While the Natural Fruit and Beverage Company is calling the product 'The Think Drink' to illustrate the effect of DHA on brain function, the juice is also being promoted as a good source of omega-3s for adults, from pregnant mothers to the elderly.

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