Top functional ingredients in kids’ foods and drinks

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin, Nutrition

Vitamin D, calcium and iron come top of the list of nutrients used in fortified kids’ foods around the world, according to a new report.

Published by Bio2com in collaboration with Mintel, the Kids Health and Nutrition 2010 ​survey tracked functional ingredient use and product launches across Europe, Asia and the Americas over the past year.

The analysis covered the use of nutrients including sugars, sweeteners, fibers, vitamins, minerals, fruits, herbs, proteins, and probiotics.

Beverages

When it came to fortifying drinks targeting children aged 5 – 12, water soluble vitamins came top of the list. Around 8 percent of all kids’ beverages launched were fortified with vitamin D, while folic acid was found in “only” ​4 percent.

Minerals such as iron and calcium were also popular, with ‘natural’ sources of calcium particularly gaining traction, including ingredients derived from egg shells, whey and milk.

Dairy

One third of cheese products for kids declared the content of calcium. One in three dairy drinks is fortified with extra calcium, with approximately 10 percent of dairy drinks focusing on adding natural dairy calcium.

“Whether fermented or not, few dairy drinks for children declare probiotic cultures, showing a seemingly lesser focus on claiming these potential benefits for children. This may be due to the fact that most clinical studies are either on infants or adults,”​ noted the report.

“Less than 4 percent of the dairy drinks analyzed have had specific omega 3 sources added to them, and it’s mainly in the Asian products [that] such nutrients are actually added, sometimes in the form of phytochemicals that western dairy certainly has no tradition for; chlorella, cinnamon, curcumin and grape seed extract.”

Bio2com noted that non-dairy fats, such as omega-3, were rarely found in dairy products, such as yogurts, while half of yogurts were found to be fortified with vitamin D.

Fibers and prebiotics were found more sparingly in this category, with 14 percent of the complex carbohydrates considered to be prebiotics, while other satiating fibres such as bran were also “sparsely used”.

Snacks

Another category examined by the report was snacks, which Bio2com says holds much innovation potential.

The analysis found iron and calcium fortification to be popular in snacks, with both nutrients found in around 15 percent of all snacks. Fibers, on the other hand, were present in approximately half of the snacks, although few fibers had “prebiotic potential”.

“Protein fortification was surprisingly rare – and the proteins added were mainly for the food technology purposes (gelatine and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins) and not as a nutritional source.”

Bio2com also noted that snacks are often good applications for supplying active substances such as vitamins and phytochemicals. In the Asian region in particular, snacks for kids were found to contain nutrients such as anthocyanins, catchecins and carotenes with antioxidant benefits, as well as algae, kelp, nori and spirulina.

However, overall, innovation in functional foods and beverages for children was found to be lower that expected, according to Bio2com. NutraIngredients-USA.com reported on that yesterday, and the article can be accessed here​.

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