Marigot is a nutraceutical company based in County Cork, which develops and produces natural mineral products for use in foods, such as cereals, processed meats and confectionery.
Aquamin is available in a variety of forms including Aquamin F, a fine powdery calcium source for use in liquid and dry applications, Aquamin S, a sea mineral source designed to enhance the nutritional profile of low pH foods such as carbonated beverages and frozen desserts, and Aquamin TG, a granulated natural calcium source for use in dietary supplements.
A recent study on pre-menopausal women in the US suggested that Aquamin F has more bio-availability than industry standard calcium carbonate.
This, the first human clinical trial to be carried out on Aquamin, was led by John Zenk and colleagues at the University of Minnesota earlier this year and presented at FASEB in Washington, in May.
Marigot has also secured funding from the Irish governemnt for two further trials, one looking at long-term use of the supplement in postmenopausal women, which it hopes will support the recent findings.
Calcium supplements are widely recommended to help prevent and manage osteoporosis, a bone-wasting disease that affects postmenopausal women in particular. Worldwide, the lifetime risk for a woman to have an osteoporotic fracture is 30-40 per cent, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, and in the next 50 years, the number of hip fractures for both men and women will more than double.
Marigot, sister company of Celtic Sea Minerals, claims that its Aquamin does not have the same chalky taste often found when adding calcium to food products. It also contains a variety of other minerals found naturally in the dead seaweed, including magnesium and some boron, copper and zinc.
One of the few plant-based calcium sources, Aquamin is a long way off from competing with calcium carbonates on the market. However it has proved popular in Asian markets where consumers already know the benefits of seaweed and are keen to market its natural source.
It is also present in a number of European markets - France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, as well as Ireland - in foods as diverse as bread, soymilk and supplements, while in the US, it is even used in a 'wellness' tea.
Marigot is looking for a further presence in southern Europe and also developing new combination products, such as CalciLife, launched in the US last year, and combining Aquamin with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides for better absorption and benefits to gut health.
"We are will be carrying out some research into pain relief too and looking at wider applications for this ingredient. We would like to be able to present ourselves as a bone health company," said R&D manager Dr Susan Lawlor.