Optimizing Ingredients

Overcoming Iron Deficiency Issues

It is well known that iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. Iron deficiency affects millions of children and women in developing countries, and is one of the only nutrient deficiencies prevalent in industrialized countries.

Iron deficiency can be prevented by increasing iron intake in food fortification or with supplements. However, high iron doses are required in order to make a significant impact due to the poor absorption of iron. The most significant challenges to iron fortification in food processing systems are the metallic taste of iron and iron side effects in the stomach. Side effects include darkening of the teeth, gastrointestinal upsets or nausea. The metallic taste of iron and the side effects can be managed by microencapsulating individual particles of iron compounds. Microencapsulation involves coating individual particles with a thin layer of food grade substance, the size of the human hair. Once the particles are Microencapsulated they are protected from the environment. This means that iron is now resistant to oxidation and is stable. The particles can then travel intact to the site of digestion where they are absorbed. The coating used to protect the individual particles enhances the bioavailability of iron so less can be used compared to fortifying with raw iron or iron that is not microencapsulated.

Microencapsulated iron can be incorporated into milk powder, liquid milk, yogurt, puddings, cereals, etc. without the characteristic oxidation which leads to instability. Additionally, the coating that surrounds each iron particle allows stability across a wide range of temperature and pH.

Microencapsulation of iron compounds allows consumers to receive 100% of their RDA in the final finished product. There is also no need to overdose with iron to make up for iron degradation. Microencapsulation of iron allows fortification for use in infant nutrition and in women’s health in areas such as Asia, Latin America, Africa, The Caribbean, Europe and North America.

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