Vitamins Gaining New Popularity with Consumers

Vitamins are gaining new popularity as they claim specific health benefits; the word on a food label has consumer appeal.

By Kantha Shelke, Contributing Editor

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Nestle’s Gerber unit (www.gerber.com), Fremont, Mich., based added ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to Gerber Graduates for Preschoolers Fruit Twists Real Fruit Snacks. The front of the package touts the “antioxidant power of vitamin C.”

Campbell Soup Co. (www.V-8juice.com), Camden, N.J., combines fresh fruits such as mangoes and strawberries with colorful vegetables such as purple carrots and sweet potatoes to create the 100 percent juice blend V8 V-Fusion. The taste is more fruit than vegetable. An 8-oz. glass of each of the five flavors (Acai Mixed Berry, Pomegranate Blueberry, Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango and Tropical Orange) delivers a full serving each of vegetables and fruit, as well as vitamins A (100 percent of the RDI), C (100 percent of RDI) and E (20 percent).

Jina Sohn, associate brand manager at Campbell, says these healthier drinks also solved a problem for school vending, following the movement to healthier snacks at schools. An alliance with Coca-Cola Co. provides a new distribution channel for Campbell while give Coca-Cola a product to replace its full-calorie soft drinks in school vending machines.

Ironically, Campbell’s marketers may not appreciate vitamins as much as they do antioxidants. They renamed A-C-E Vitamin Rich V8 as Essential Antioxidants V8 Vegetable Juice with no change to the recipe nor added vitamins A, C and E.

“Nano- and micro-emulsion processing have allowed for high nutrient density per serving and maintaining biological activity of vitamins A and C, which are slated to grow even more popular with all age groups,” says Ram Chaudhari, chief scientific officer at Schenectady, N.Y.-based Fortitech Inc. (www.fortitech.com).

Not just for nutrition

Vitamins are not just for the elderly and kids … and not just for internal health. Women are beginning to understand the beauty and anti-aging properties of vitamins.

Vitamins A, C, and E occur naturally in the skin and control free radicals that cause skin degradation and aging.

Vitamin A is a carotenoid and may be found in nature as an alcohol (retinol), aldehyde (retinal) and acid (retinoic acid). Some of those terms should be recognizable to women fighting the battle against skin aging. But retinol is highly susceptible to oxidation during processing and storage, especially at a pH below 5. Beta carotene is typically preferred because it is more stable than retinol and is converted to vitamin A in the body.

 

Vitamins are being touted to fight skin aging. Vitamin C ester is one of the key ingredients in Anti-Aging Whole Food Bar from Regeneration USA.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, prevents oxidative reactions and free radical formation. When combined with vitamin E, C shows synergy, according to two clinical trials that compared the effects of vitamins C and E taken individually and together. Vitamin C rejuvenates vitamin E to its antioxidant form; maintaining antioxidant levels higher than that of free radicals prevents collagen and elastin from breaking down and forming fine lines and wrinkles.

Nestlé (www.glowelle.com), Glendale, Calif., launched Glowelle, a vitamin-enriched supplement drink currently sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus stores, “to protect and hydrate the inner and outer layers.” Glowelle formulators specifically incorporated vitamin C to sustain vitamin E functionality to fight free radicals with the other core bioactives. 

An Anti-Aging Whole Food Bar comes from Regeneration USA (www.regenerationusa.com), Alpine, N.J. The anti-aging power of vitamin C ester is touted along with anti-inflammatory nutrients, including fruit flavonoids, DMAE, alpha lipoic acid and omegas 3, 6 and 9 – to nourish the body from the inside out with nutrients that may slow aging.

Vitamins seem to sell condiments and marinades, too. Lucio DiCicco, founder of DiChickO’s (www.dichickos.com), an Augusta, Ga., maker of gourmet sauces, figured taste was not the only criterion for those seeking premium foods. DiChickO’s makes a number of sauces and marinades using peri-peri peppers. In addition to 175,000 Scoville units of heat, peri-peris are a rich source of vitamin A, C and beta carotene.

Beverages are a key vehicle for vitamins largely because the large serving size allows product developers ample room for “per-serving” levels of vitamins. Encapsulation can help disperse the fat-soluble vitamins A and E for optimal distribution and stability, while minimizing deleterious effects on finished-product characteristics.

The encapsulant material has to be selected carefully so as to not affect the finished product quality. Gelatin encapsulants tend to react with polyphenols in fruit juices and create sedimentation. The emerging micro- and nano-emulsions can help disperse fat-soluble vitamins without cloudiness.

Charlotte Fredrickson of DSM Nutritionals suggests modified food starch-based oil-in-water emulsions of vitamin E. The resulting nano-sized particles (less than 100nm) are no longer visible and create the illusion of clear solution without creaming up or sedimentation. “Microencapsulation helps overcome the stability and interaction with other ingredients issues with vitamin C,” she says.

In and out of the pipeline

Vitamins can lend a health halo to a number of foods.

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