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WATCH: Bioavailability buzz - What's driving the need for better nutrient delivery and absorption?

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

More than ever, it seems industry is focused on boosting the potency – or bioavailability – of existing, well known nutrients rather than exploring potential new ingredients. In our latest video diary NutraIngredients asks a panel of industry experts why innovative delivery systems and better bioavailability are becoming more important to the sector.

Bioavailability is a big buzzword in the industry right now. But what is driving it?

"Consumers are becoming a lot more knowledgeable on the ingredients they are putting in their bodies,"​ noted Carys Raper, Cambridge Commodities. "They are doing a lot more research around the products that they are wanting to buy."

"It's not just about 'more is better' anymore,"​ she said. "I think people are wanting to look at what they are actually getting from the products."

Raper added that ingredients like curcumin and turmeric are two examples of nutrients that are 'well known' for having bioavailability issues.

Itay Shafat of Frutarom agrees, noting that a major cause of the problem is that many plant extracts simply do not absorb well.

"Take curcumin,"​ he noted. "It's the most common one. Curcumin - as curmin - almost doesn't absorb. It reaches the intestine and and is extracted from the body."

"You need to add all kinds of technologies for bioavailability." 

He noted that given the huge consumer interest, 'everyone' in the industry is looking for new solutions to try and boost the bioavailability of curcumin. 

"We need to search for technological solutions for these ingredients to absorb, and the industry is becoming very good at that, and that's good news I think,"​ he noted.

Technology is the key

Johan Wahlqvist of Probi, noted that meeting a consumer demand for ingredients that work can also be commercially attractive.

"I think it's a technology development point of view,"​ he said. "If we can increase the efficacy, and do an offering in a commercially effective way from a cost perspective, I think that's very helpful."

"We will see more development in this field for sure," ​Wahlqvist added.

Adding to the debate, Eric Meppem of Pharmako noted that in addition to looking at new technological solutions for delivery systems that increase absorption, companies are also looking to try and improve then functionality of ingredients so that they are able to put them into new formats or work in news ways.

He noted that putting certain ingredients into beverages, for example, has become core focus - especially in instances where solubility has previously been an issue.

Raper added that the dispersibility of products is a challenge in the industry too. 

"It's not just making it more bioavailable for consumers, but also for manufacturers, by creating these new systems it makes the manufacturing process a lot easier and cheaper,"​ she said.

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