Special Edition: Vitamin D

Suppliers surmounting vitamin D fortification challenges

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin Vitamin d3 Vitamin d

In many countries foods such as milk, yoghurt, margarine, oil spreads, breakfast cereal, pastries as well as bread are fortified with vitamin D, and in the third part of our special edition on this nutrient, we look at the challenges surrounding its encapsulation and incorporation into food and beverages.

A number of market forms of vitamin D are available to boost a product’s Vitamin D content, such as D2 ​(ergocalciferol) and D3 ​(cholecalciferol).

The challenge for formulators is to select an appropriate form of Vitamin D that delivers the desired level of the nutrient without affecting flavour, solubility, bioavailability, sensory properties and the mouthfeel of the finished product.

Dr Ram Chaudhari, chief scientific officer at Fortitech, said that food manufacturers must work closely with their suppliers to address product development issues that could dramatically impact nutrient delivery or alter the end product.

“The supplier can suggest appropriate market forms, interactions to avoid, and processing effects that will improve the chance of success,”​ he said.

Premix method

Chaudhari told Nutraingredients.com that the key to successfully delivering a nutrient such as vitamin D, without negatively affecting consumer expectations surrounding issues such as taste or mouth feel, is by developing a custom premix designed specifically for a particular product.

“Additionally, since Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient, it is necessary to have some fat and/or hydrocolloids to suspend it properly into a finished product’s matrix,” ​ he said.

Blending and processing techniques can make the difference between producing a reliable, high quality, homogenous, shelf-stable nutrient premix and an inferior one that may cause poor consumer confidence, potential regulatory issues or recall situations, said the Fortitech co-founder.

“The challenge in blending ingredients with different particle sizes is that bulk density and variable particle sizes can lead to segregation. Therefore, minor nutrients should be diluted with another carrier to get the two different materials to blend well in order to make a homogeneous product,”​ added Chaudhari.

And he said, if possible, all ingredients should be rendered free-flowing through milling, particle coating, granulation, making pre-blends, tituration, spray drying and other techniques.


One of the main challenges in terms of integrating vitamin D into food and drink products is that it is not stable at low pH in the stomach, said Saul Koder, senior manager at Israel-based Karmat Coating Industries, who explained that under acidic conditions vitamin D is transformed to 5,6 –trans Vitamin D and isotachysterol.

He said that Karmat recognized this problem and, as a result, devised an encapsulated vitamin D powder that bypasses the stomach and is released in the intestines, where it is absorbed.

“Another encapsulation challenge is to be able to release the vitamin D in a sustained release pattern over time so the body does not get a pulse shot,”​ said Koder.

He said that vitamin D should be combined with calcium in formulations to increase its effectiveness and that Karmat has developed a sustained release product containing vitamin D and calcium citrate that allows efficient transformation of the vitamin D in the liver to 25-hydroxy vitamin D.

While currently it is dairy products and cereals that constitute the products most commonly fortified with vitamin D, Koder claims that the company’s encapsulated vitamin D powder can be incorporated into almost any product.

Metabolic action

He said that while vitamin D is available for formulations in D2​ and D3​ form it is the D3​ version that is mainly used in food and drink fortification.

“There is sufficient evidence that these two types are metabolized differently. Vitamin D3 could be more than three times as effective as vitamin D2​ in raising serum 25(OH)D concentrations and maintaining those levels for a longer time,”​ he said.

Dr Jean Claude Tritsch, global technical marketing manager at DSM Nutritional Products agrees: “The science to date favours the use of D3​ as a source of vitamin D for food and drink fortification.”

Protective matrix

Vitamin D is sensitive to oxidative stress but Tritsch said DSM’s microencapsulation technology ensures a protective matrix for D3​ through the addition of lipids and antioxidants to guarantee optimal food and drink fortification.

“Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Using a microencapsulation process, DSM is able to transform oily D3 ​into a dry product form. This dry product form can be used in solid delivery systems like dietary supplements or cereal/nutritional bars and can be easily re-dispersed in aqueous solution to be used in beverage or dairy products”​ he explained.

Tritsch said the aim is to ensure stability of D3 ​as well as an optimal distribution or content uniformity of D3​ in a finished product range.

Regulatory hurdles

While suppliers seem to be overcoming the food and drink fortification hurdles presented by vitamin D, the current RDAs are too low and restrictive in terms of optimising the potential health benefits arising out of vitamin D fortification in food and drink products, argues Wouter Claerhout, senior marketing manager, DSM Human Nutrition and Health.

He claims manufacturers’ hands are tied by regulatory standards.

In Europe​ a food or drink manufacturer only has to include 15 per cent of the current RDA, 200IUs, in order to have vitamin D on the label, but from a scientific perspective these inclusion levels havevery limited effectiveness in terms of health benefits to the consumer,”​ he said.

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