Lubrizol spotlights microencapsulated iron and EU-approved carbopol polymers

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© LeviaZ / Getty Images
© LeviaZ / Getty Images

Related tags Iron Lubrizol vitafoods Efsa

Lubrizol will launch its new microencapsulated iron ingredient Lipofer and highlight newly EU food grade-approved Carbopol polymers next month (May 2024).

Speaking ahead of the launch at Vitafoods, the ingredients supplier said it is aiming to upgrade the the consumer and manufacturer experience by improving microencapsulation of iron for reduced side effects and increased bioavailability.

Non-encapsulated iron delivery can cause multiple issues for consumers and formulators, according to Isabel Gómez, global marketing manager for Lubrizol Life Sciences (LLS) nutraceutical business.

“This can include poor absorption, metallic taste, side effects, organoleptic changes, making product development difficult and impacting absorption efficacy, consumer acceptance and tolerability,” she told NutraIngredients. 

Iron is a highly popular supplement, with 69% of supplement-purchasing consumers​ looking for it in the products they purchase because of its association with immune support. 

However, as Gómez explained, “Previous negative experiences associated with taking these iron supplements have made consumers wary, and many have decided to stop taking iron supplements or have been forced to take other steps/actions to counteract the unwanted side effects.”

According to a recent clinical trial, the microencapsulated Lipofer improved iron status in healthy participants.

Technological improvement

To develop a product that improves iron absorption while minimizing stomach irritation, Lubrizol used multiple technologies.

It first micronized iron pyrophosphate to reduce the average particle size to less than 10 microns, a process shown to increase the bioavailability of various nutrients due to the increased surface area, allowing for greater absorption in the body. Next, the micronized iron pyrophosphate was encapsulated in various matrices to add further functionality to the product.

"Using certain coating materials such as lecithin and different starches or maltodextrins for the microencapsulation of iron to develop Lipofer has been crucial as the combination of microencapsulation technologies has a dual role,” Gómez said.

The lecithin allows the product to overcome surface tension and exchange with membrane lipids or insert directly into the mucosal bilayer, increasing mineral solubility and absorption after gastrointestinal digestion, she explained. 

Secondly, starch further protects the iron during manufacturing and digestion, resulting in more stable products with fewer side effects such as upset stomach, constipation and nausea. 

“In addition, the use of microencapsulation technology ensures that the metallic taste is masked, making the supplement more palatable to the user,” Gómez noted.

EFSA approved 

Lubrizol will also present its Carbopol Polymers, synthetic polymers of acrylic acid with high molecular weight used to increase the viscosity and modify the rheological features of liquid or semisolid formulations.

The 2023 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval of Carbopol polymers as a food additive (E 1210) in Europe will enable manufacturers to make new product claims.  

“Carbopol enables stable sustained release or suspension of actives with only a small amount of inclusion, which results in products that are easy to swallow and require fewer doses to achieve the desired health benefits,” Gómez said. “It also ensures consistency in achieving stable sustained release or suspension of actives, which is crucial for the efficacy and safety of nutraceutical products.”

Carbopol polymers swell when hydrated and neutralized, forming a colloidal dispersion, she explained. The swollen, close-packed microgels can hold solid particles within the gel structure, generating permanent suspension. 

“Carbopol polymers provide a wide range of viscosity profiles and have very high yield values, even at low concentrations, thus being very effective suspending agents for formulating oral suspensions,” Gómez added. 

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