Plant-based diets are increasingly popular, and millions of consumers worldwide follow vegan and vegetarian diets for reasons including health and religion. However, there have also been concerns around potential nutrient deficiencies in such diets, particularly related to vitamins B12 and D which are generally found in or obtained from animal sources. While supplementation is recommended, the two vitamins have different solubilities that can make it challenging to create a single pill.
Researchers from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, experimented with plant-based ingredients to create a gummy candy enriched with vitamins B12 and D3; their study findings were published in ACS Food Science & Technology (DOI:10.1021/acsfoodscitech.1c00271#). The team first produced an emulsion with citrate buffer, inulin, gum arabic, flaxseed oil and vitamin D3; and then a pectin gel with pectin, calcium chloride and B12 with a citrate buffer. The combination created an emulsion-filled gel (EFG), which was enhanced with a natural strawberry flavour and then molded into gummy format.
Rheological and uniaxial compression tests showed EFG presented stronger gel networks than nonfilled gels, suggesting the oil droplets served as active fillers. Further testing found the vitamins were stable after 30 days of storage. Finally, 120 untrained panellists were recruited for sensory tests; the gummies received high scores for taste, colour, aroma and overall acceptability. Almost half of panellists said they would buy the enriched gummy, with another third considering purchase.
The research team concluded EFG could be an alternative to producing enriched food products that could combine lipophilic and hydrophilic bioactives to supplement the diets of target consumer populations.