Winning NIU award helped open doors for chewable delivery technology developed by Norwegian firm

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Vitux AS has won an award for its technology that makes fish oil palatable for children. ©Getty Images - Massimo Merlini
Vitux AS has won an award for its technology that makes fish oil palatable for children. ©Getty Images - Massimo Merlini

Related tags Fish Fish oil supplements EPA and DHA delivery formats Delivery modes NutraIngredients-USA Awards Nutrition

An award-winning delivery technology that began as a better way to mimic human tissue for research purposes has opened doors for a Norwegian company.

Vitux AS won an award from  NutraIngredients-USA in 2021 with an entry submitted by one of its clients, Childlife Essentials, based in El Segundo, CA. The company won NutraIngredients-USA’s award for Best Omega-3 Product of the Year​ for a children’s chewable DHA product based on Vitux’s delivery mode, which is branded as ConCordix.

 Vitux, which is based in Oslo, licensed the technology from a local university.  It was a case of a discovery in one field coming to fruition in another.

Invention in one field benefits another

“It’s an invention from the University of Trondheim,” ​Marc Van Maris, PhD, told NutraIngredients-USA.  Van Maris is the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Vitux.

“A professor there was asked to make a reconstruction of a female breast for use in radiation research for the treatment of breast cancer,” ​he said.

Van Maris said existing models, based on the kind of silicone implants then commonly employed in reconstructive surgeries, might have looked like breasts, but were of a different structure and so not very useful for the purpose.

“Human breast tissue is about 60% water and 40% lipids.  But water and oil don’t like to mix, so he solidified that within in a gelatin matrix,” ​Van Maris said.

“Then, being from Norway, he thought, maybe he could do the same using fish oil,”​ he added.

Norway has a centuries long tradition of harvesting fatty fish like herring. Indeed, trade in dried, salted and pickled herring was the foundation of economic development in the region in the Middle Ages under the aegis of the Hanseatic League.  Norway still ranks among the world’s leaders in fish oil production and is a center of innovation in the field.

“We started commercializing this technology in 2011.  At first it was a jelly, but we were able to introduce new colors and flavors,” ​Van Maris said.  He noted that the technology uses no sugar.

Better bioavailability

Among the delivery technology’s attributes was that, already being an emulsion, it could speed the uptake of lipid ingredients like DHA from fish oil.  It’s a benefit that Vitux has verified with clinical research.

“We know that emulsions are very well absorbed in the intestines.  It’s a well known chemical process.  We did a bioavailability study comparing ConCordix to the delivery of omega-3s in a softgel.  With equivalent doses of fish oil the research showed 43% higher bioavailability with ConCordix,” ​Van Maris said.

Clinically relevant dosage is key

Another key element of the technology is the dosages that can be achieved, Van Maris said.  Payload issues are the bane of solid form delivery technologies.  Gummies are fun to eat and kids like them, but for many kinds of nutrients, the potential payloads may fall below clinically relevant doses, unless many gummies are consumed.

“This is THE biggest difference form other chewables.  You can achieve a clinically relevant does.  Our delivery system can hold up under a maximal load of omega-3s, within the payload range of a softgel.  That’s the equivalent of about 20 gummies,”​ Van Maris said.

The technology’s advantages also attracted another major client.  Amway has chosen it for its Nutrilite Kids Brainiums  DHA supplement.  The network marketing company, which claims that its Nutrilite line of supplements are the best selling brand in the world, says that Brainiums DHA is its best selling product aimed at children.

“Any time we can go to a single and clinically potent serving is better for compliance,”​ said Van Maris.

“With pretty much any product we launch at Amway, we prefer fewer servings,” ​says Marlene Zuidema, Amway brand manager. “Moms are looking for things to support their little ones’ brain health. We were looking for a unique product that would provide the best benefits for kids.”

Winning award opens doors

Van Maris said the Amway deal was already under development before the entry into the NutraIngredients-USA awards process.  But since the announcement of the award, he said the number of major brands that have stepped forward inquiring about the technology has reached double digits.

“We have experienced a high number of inquiries from the American giants, if you will.  These are companies that are absolutely looking for innovation.  A number of these companies have not launched gummies because of the drawbacks for that delivery system. We’ve gotten inquiries from at least 10 to 15 of the giants in that marketplace,”​ he said.

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