Delivering better nutrition through food fortification
Micronutrients being non-energy yielding group of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals has a minuscule demand in the body. When consumed in small amounts, it ensures optimal health and well-being.
Micronutrient deficiencies is a silent epidemic of vitamin and mineral deficiencies affecting people of all ages and gender. Often referred to as ‘Hidden Hunger’, largely goes unnoticed in individuals, since it is harder to identify visually and gets far less attention than it warrants. Hidden hunger is particularly detrimental to vulnerable populations as young children, women of child bearing ages and the poorest populations in developing countries.
In today’s lifestyle, micronutrient deficiencies are not only observed in lower socioeconomic group but through all social class of people. There are increased food choices, yes, but low in micronutrient densities.
The intake of micronutrients in daily diet is far from satisfactory and largely less than 50% RDA is consumed by over 70% of Indian population (1). Food Fortification is one approach to mitigate the symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies.
Fortification means adding key vitamins and minerals like iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A and D to foods which are either absent or present in small amounts.
For fortifying food, supplements or staples, why should one consider using a nutrient premix? What is a Premix?
A Premix is a commercially prepared customised blend where each nutrient component is prescaled and precision blended into a premix.
Premixes for food fortification includes ingredients like vitamins, minerals, nucleotides, amino-acids and other functional ingredients.
Developing premixes is a very precise process involving finding the right balance in the use of metabolically active nutrients and compounds. Formulations are designed based on RDAs or as per requirements.
Types of Premixes and their applications:
Vitamin Premix: This includes both water-soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and C) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) can come in liquid or spray-dried form. Example: In Dairy products, since it is already a rich source of calcium, it is fortified with Vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption and metabolism.
Mineral Premix: This include minerals as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and others in dry-blended form. Example: Infant Milk formulas are fortified with iron as it results in augmentation of iron stores which help prevent later development of iron deficiency.
Amino acid Premix: Hypoallergenic or elemental formulations use a combination of amino-acids to replace protein in these formulations.
Nutraceuticals Premix: Customised Premix of nutraceuticals like inositol, taurine, choline and natural extracts as grapeseed extract etc. Used in health drinks and special nutrition products.
Customised Premix: Vitamins and mineral blend are chosen by customers and are designed based upon their product requirement.
Premix includes Fortificants (powdered vitamins and minerals), Excipients (carriers, fillers) and free-flow agent.
Other categories where premixes can be added are,
|Staple foods||Flour, Oil, Milk, Salt and Rice|
|Oils and fats||Oil, Butter, Margarine, Ghee|
|Milk and Milk products||Milk, Cheese, Cream, Milk Powder, Ice cream, Flavoured Milk and desserts|
|Bakery and Confectionery||Bread, Biscuit, Breakfast cereals, Cakes, Chocolates|
|Nutritional supplements and Health drinks||Infant formulae, Nutritional drinks, Dietary supplements and Sports Nutrition supplements|
Developing an optimum premix
When vitamins, minerals, and functional ingredients are to be added to a food product. It begins with identifying and achieving desired specifications and allowed overages. They must be added in precisely accurate amount, in the proper chemical form, and at the right time in the production process in order to achieve accurate fortification creating a homogeneous blend. Because every food product and its production process is unique, there is no single formula to satisfy every need.
Premixes have been gaining prominence in the nutritional supplements and food products industry with proven benefits as reduced ingredient inventories and quality costs without introducing variables that would lead to compromising taste or texture in the end-product.
- National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau. Hyderabad: National Institute of Nutrition; 2002