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Special edition: Innovations in minerals

Chews, sachets and ‘petite pills’… Calcium supplements, the next generation (part two)

By Elaine WATSON , 24-Jan-2013

As the more innovative supplement manufacturers are well aware, novel delivery formats - from gummies and straws to gourmet chocs - can breathe new life into a mature category and bring new consumers into the market.

And nowhere is this more evident than in the calcium supplements space, where have seen a flurry of gummies, chews, candy-coated chews, and ‘petite’ pills hitting shelves in recent years, says Amber Gillis, market development manager health & nutrition at minerals giant Jungbunzlauer.

She adds: “There is also a new format for calcium that offers time-released tablets to help with better absorption of calcium throughout the day, plus sachets of dry blends that allow for the mineral to be poured directly in the mouth.

“Jungbunzlauer can address all these applications with calcium lactate gluconate if an instant and highly soluble form is required [eg. for jellies and liquid forms], but also direct compressible as well as ultra-fine micronized calcium citrate for tablets, soft chews, suspensions and sachets.

“We have also developed a liquid calcium supplement suspension with 100% RDA per 2tbsp serving.”

Consumers want more benefits in a smaller package

While some studies have suggested calcium supplements could increase cardiovascular risk factors, Dr Elizabeth Samelson - the lead author of a high-profile Harvard study published last fall exploring this hypothesis - begs to differ. She told NutraIngredients-USA: “Our study found that individuals who had the highest calcium intake, from diet or supplements or both, had the same coronary artery calcification score as those who had the lowest calcium intake.“

However, consumers are not just looking for more convenient delivery formats, she says: “Consumers want more benefits, but in a smaller package, so suppliers will need to get creative in adding additional beneficial ingredients and utilizing current research...”

Meanwhile, “formulating with the most bioavailable sources, such as calcium citrate and calcium lactate gluconate will give more differentiation as many supplements are utilizing less bioavailable inorganic sources of calcium”, she claims.

New combinations are starting to become more usual than the typical Ca+ Vit D products

So what does she think of eggshell or coral calcium (see part one of our special)?

“Exotic forms of calcium such as coral or eggs provide a certain exotic touch to a market segment which is very mature”, she concedes.

But she adds: “We do not see benefits for these niche products over long-established calcium salts such as the calcium lactate gluconate or calcium citrate.

ONE TO WATCH? With just 5% calcium, VDF FutureCeuticals’ calcium fructoborate ingredient isn't a ‘calcium supplement’, per se (it’s a complex of calcium, boron, and fructose), but it has pretty exciting future ahead of it, predicts marketing director Brad Evers. "Calcium fructoborate is a patented, nature-identical plant mineral complex of calcium, boron, and fructose, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and legumes. Two clinical trials have indicated significant and fast-acting benefits for subjects with symptoms of joint discomfort as measured by improvements in WOMAC and McGill scales. These results in conjunction with its small serving size, 108 mg, have contributed to significant success with calcium fructoborate in the flex category. “Ongoing research indicates it may also offer substantial support for other targets associated with inflammation, such as cardiovascular and bone health. Three studies have suggested that it contributes to healthy inflammatory response and we are extremely excited about recent results suggesting its mechanism of action; namely, that it supports the body's ability to produce the active form of Vitamin D3, calcitriol. This has opened up several new interesting discussions with manufacturers over the use of calcium fructoborate as a key differentiator in the Vitamin D, inflammation, and heart health categories."

“We are able to offer a sustainable calcium source which is produced by the natural process of fermentation of non-GMO carbohydrates. At the same time, we can offer an ultra-pure directly compressible calcium citrate for tablets so that technical applicability and consistent compliance to Prop. 65 is guaranteed.”

As to what supplement makers are combining with calcium, “new combinations are starting to become more usual than the typical Ca + Vit D combinations”, says Gillis: “[We’re seeing more] Ca + Mg and Ca, Mg + Zn combinations… Additionally, beauty-from-within tablets are becoming popular for hair, skin and nail health using Ca + Zn.”

Our current focus is introducing the supplement industry to our newest calcium citrate for tableting

So what’s on the priority list in 2013?

“Introducing the supplement industry to our newest calcium citrate – directly compressible form, used specifically for tableting,” says Gillis. “ Launched in 2011, it has become a great success as supplement producers were anxious for a high-quality, western-sourced calcium citrate.

“An additional focus includes supplying beverage customers with our highly soluble, neutral tasting calcium lactate gluconate.  It is the perfect calcium source for beverages that need to remain clear, and yet imparts no negative flavors to the finished product.”

Click here to read part one of our calcium feature: From eggshells and coral to red algae… calcium supplements, the next generation  

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