Bioavailability battle: Natural ingredients for functional foods in demand In APAC but challenges remain

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

CAVACURMIN can be used in capsule forms.
CAVACURMIN can be used in capsule forms.

Related tags Curcumin Bioavailability

International ingredient firm Wacker says that the use of natural ingredients, such as curcumin and hydroxytyrosol in functional food is gaining steam in Asia, but there is a need to address issues such as low bioavailability.

The firm has an array of business interests, with its food and health ingredients forming part of its bio-solutions section, and now accounts for around 20% of the division’s sales. 

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia ​at the FI-Asia show held in Bangkok, director of the firm’s business team nutrition, Heiko Zipp, pointed out that curcumin, with its anti-inflammatory characteristics, fitted well with sports recovery needs.

On the other hand, hydroxytyrosol, an antioxidant, can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, hence lowering the risk of coronary heart diseases.

He noted that while the classical dietary supplement market was the mainstream, it was becoming increasingly common to use the ingredients in functional foods and beverage shots.

“We see the trend in Asia where consumers very often do not feel comfortable with dietary supplements in the form of pills and the industry is looking into new application formats. 

Gummies and beverage shots are becoming more interesting because it is easier to digest and are tastier.”

However, there are several challenges associated with using these ingredients in functional foods.

For one, curcumin is hydrophobic and not readily absorbed in the blood stream.

To address the issue, the firm uses encapsulation in cyclodextrins to enhance the bioavailability and is now selling the ingredient under the tradename CAVACURMIN.

According to its study published in European Journal of Nutrition, the encapsulation method increases bioavailability rate to 40 times higher than the conventional curcumin extract.

He pointed out that being water-dispersable, the ingredient could be used in beverage shots. It can also be incorporated into dry or powdery dietary supplements.

“As the product has higher bioavailability, the dosage does not need to be too high, as we can provide better efficacy, which then gives the customers the possibility to work much easier in these few application forms.”

The firm also uses the same cyclodextrin complex encapsulation technique on coenzyme Q10, which it is selling via the tradename CAVAQ10.

Moving forward, the firm plans to invest in region-specific clinical trials to validate the efficiency of these ingredients.

“With all our products, we are doing clinical research, placebo-controlled, and double-blind studies, which are the state of the art,”​ he said.

Regional expansion

One of the firm’s latest regional expansion is the opening of a food ingredients and dietary supplements laboratory in Shanghai this year.

Its other lab in Asia is located in Singapore, which it opened in late 2016​.

The purpose of the labs is to offer solutions that are tailored to regional needs.

Last year, the firm also acquired a pharmaceutical protein production facility in the Netherlands that manufactures biopharmaceuticals, live microbial products, and vaccines.

“We are moving the products closer to our consumers, we see they have special requirements, not only in taste but also in the ingredients used as well,” ​Zipp said.


Source: European Journal of Nutrition

Analysis of different innovative formulations of curcumin for improved relative oral bioavailability in human subjects

DOI 10.1007/s00394-016-1376-9

Authors: Martin Purpura & et al

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