Improving Nutrient Absorption and Bioavailability
The delivery of bioactive compounds such as minerals, vitamins and amino acids and nutraceutical compounds such as green tea, lutein and others to improve the health of humans and animals have recently gained more attention. Delivery technologies can improve solubility, improve bioavailability, facilitate release and, protect the stability of micronutrients such as Zinc and other bioactive compounds during processing storage and distribution. The bioactivity of compounds may be reduced or eliminated when exposed to air, high heat or digestive enzymes. Control release technology can lead to the development of new flavor delivery systems to improve functionality and food quality.
A better overall understanding of the mechanism of targeted delivery will help provide a foundation that will enable food manufacturers to design smart food systems capable of ensuring optimal health. For example, green tea extract has been shown to have major nutritional benefits for weight management, etc. However, it is a bitter compound. Using a control release technology such as microencapsulation, bitter free green tea extract can be incorporated into different weight management regimens. Additionally, microencapsulation protects the potency of nutrients and can be used to prevent nutrient interactions thereby allowing maintenance of potency over extended periods. In addition to masking taste and protecting potency, the coating that is used to enrobe the active ingredient offers protection through the harsh conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and allow delivery of nutrients to the sites that provide the greatest absorptive capacity. In a recent Brazilian study where animals were fed microencapsulated organic acids villi height and therefore absorptive capacity were significantly improved compared to a control.
Nutrients are not the only compounds that can be delivered but other bioactive compounds such as antibiotics and acidifiers, along with others, targeted at the colon can be delivered using this technology. The technology offers the potential to deliver slow release compounds through the gastrointestinal tract and for a low inclusion level that provides a lot of flexibility in food and feed formulation. Microencapsulation offers the potential for less overdosing, greater efficiency and better cost savings