Microencapsulation is one of the most interesting technologies in the nutrition and dietary supplements arena. Its uniqueness is the result of its ability to capture the benefits of active nutritional molecules, and to protect their value through processing and production challenges while being perfectly neutral and passive. Multiple microencapsulation techniques and materials are being used to achieve a range of product development goals.
There are mainly four types of challenges for which encapsulating some or all of the ingredients should be considered. The first one is processing. Heat, pH levels, humidity, water and oils interaction, oxidation, and other processing and production challenges can all be enhanced and resolved through the use of the right microencapsulation technology. With a good matchup between the ingredient and the coating, these challenges can be overcome, while also increasing the shelf life of the ingredient and the finished product, as well as meeting the label claim in an accurate and responsible way.
Another common reason for using microencapsulation is to mask tastes, smell and aroma. This aspect of microencapsulation is very common when developing a beverage, health bar, chewing gum or many other applications in which good taste is a must. Yet, products other than functional foods can benefit from the taste- and aroma-masking capabilities of a high-quality microencapsulation system. Sublingual tablets, chewing tablets, gummies and regular tablets can also benefit from a neutral taste and stable formula.
The third reason to use microencapsulation is to address bioavailability. There isn’t much need to discuss the importance of bioavailability. A formulator can choose the highest-quality, most well-researched ingredient and yet, if the availability of the active component isn’t perfect, the finished product will lose its efficacy.
Therefore, when formulating a product, reading the supportive science and choosing a quality ingredient isn’t always enough. Production process challenges should also be taken into consideration, as well as the natural bioavailability of the product for the specific target population.
Many nutrients are quick to dissolve and, therefore, provide limited efficacy when used “as is." When an ingredient is either sensitive to the body’s natural pH, or when better control of absorption is required, microencapsulation should be considered as a value-added technology. A good example of absorption enhancement is the use of alginate technic to coat carotenoids. When formulating carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene and others, it’s desirable to protect the active molecules all the way to the small intestine (enterocytes). The use of alginate microencapsulation technology provides a high level of protection from all production and processing challenges, as well as bioavailability enhancement.
The fourth consideration is the sustained-release group. The use of microencapsulation can affect the timing in which the active is being released in the body. This capability becomes a necessity when desiring to maintain a certain level of the ingredient in the blood (for example, the phytohormone genestein, used to support health and comfort women in the post-menstrual stage, or any sleep aid that requires controlled release). A quality sustained-release technology based on the right microencapsulation matrix can assure the controlled release of the active over the required length of time. Furthermore, when developing a formula that has multiple ingredients and requires different levels of protection of the actives as well as a sustained-release system, it is possible to combine multiple microencapsulation technologies in one formula and one finished product. That will allow the formulator peace of mind, knowing the claims can be met in full—and the consumer receives a quality, effective product that meets its promise.
To summarize, in recent years, microencapsulation technologies are increasingly prevalent in industries that use nutritional ingredients. New and advanced microencapsulation technologies are able to overcome production challenges, protect the active ingredients, enhance taste and, when needed, control the release of the ingredient in the body.
Through the use of the right microencapsulation system, brand holders can offer a quality product that meets the label’s promise for shelf life, taste and efficacy.
Looking for ways to manage and reduce the risks in partnering with contract manufacturers? Join us for the Contract Manufacturing: Raising the Bar on Delivering Quality workshop on Saturday, Oct. 8, at SupplySide West 2016.
Golan Raz is vice president of health and nutrition at Lycored (lycored.com). Raz is a graduate of Bar Ilan University law school with a specific research on bioethics, the field of health nutrition. Leading numerous global clinical activities currently reflecthis interests in advancing therapeutic nutrition as well as cardiac protection, systemic skin protection and prostate health. Raz has been a member of Helm Society roundtable for numerous clinical trial discussions of new therapies for multiple pathways.