Combining calcium and vitamins for bone health

With an increasingly ageing population, maintaining strong bones for as long as possible is a vital issue

Omya, a leading manufacturer of calcium carbonates, has proactively developed a concept for bone health supplements that combines the benefits of three ingredients.

NBR spoke to Stefan Lander, Vice President, Consumer Goods Group Sales & Marketing at Omya, about calcium, food fortification and the market potential for bone health concepts.

NBR: First, how do you see the global situation regarding bone health and the potential for targeted nutritional concepts?

SL: Based on WHO diagnostic criteria, in 2010, approximately 22 million women and 5.5 million men aged between 50 and 84 were estimated to have osteoporosis in the EU.1

Owing to changes in population demography, the total number of people affected will further increase in the near future. And, with osteoporosis being such a big issue and set to become a huge challenge for our ageing population, I think there is rising demand for foods and supplements that target the bone health market — especially as today’s consumers understand the benefits of preventing rather than curing disease.

With more people than ever now aware of the interactions between different nutrients and looking for nutritional all-in-one solutions, it makes perfect sense to offer functional combinations that meet those needs.

NBR: How does Omya serve this trend?

SL: Our portfolio encompasses a variety of calcium carbonate products. Under the brand name Calcipur, one key application field is the calcium fortification of foods.

When dairy products don’t form part of the daily diet and don’t supply this valuable mineral, calcium-fortified goods can bridge the gap. For instance, plant-based alternatives to cows’ milk are becoming increasingly popular. By contrast, we also distribute a variety of specialty ingredients, such as flavours, colours, sweetening systems, antioxidants and vitamins.

This offers the big advantage that instead of just supplying calcium as a single ingredient, we can provide holistic solutions; our bone health concept in the form of both easy-to-swallow tablets and ODTs is just one example. The formulation contains Omya’s proprietary calcium carbonates — Omyapure as the active ingredient and Omyapharm as the excipient — plus vitamins K2 and D3 from our distribution portfolio.

Like any organ in the body, the skeleton needs a balanced diet

NBR: How can these ingredients support bone health?

SL: Like any organ in the body, the skeleton needs a balanced diet, including vitamins and minerals, for its normal development. However, the key nutrients to consider here are the mineral calcium — the building block of bones — and the vitamins D3 and K2 to ensure proper calcium absorption and deposition. Supplements based on this formulation contribute, together with a balanced diet, to achieving the EU-recommended daily allowance of 800 mg of calcium.

NBR: Is calcium overload possible, and are there limits to the amount that can be used?

SL: Various regulations apply to the use of calcium as an added nutrient in fortified foods or supplements. The legislation can differ, depending on the region, target group and final application, but calcium carbonate is a globally established source of calcium.

For fortification purposes, we generally recommend adding 30% of the RDA of calcium per serving size. This corresponds to 240 mg of pure calcium, which translates to 600 mg of calcium carbonate and allows the “high in calcium” health claim.

The idea is that fortified products enable people to achieve their calcium requirements without having to consume more calories. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Food has set a limit of 2500 mg of calcium per day. This upper intake level is unlikely to create any adverse health events in virtually all of the general population, so moderate levels of calcium-fortified foods are no problem at all.

NBR: For which target groups do you see the greatest benefits?

SL: As our bodies are unable to produce their own calcium, a regular dietary intake is essential. However, this can be difficult for many people — particularly for those who avoid dairy products, such as people who are lactose intolerant or who follow a vegan diet.

In addition, the daily recommended calcium intake is not always achievable through diet alone, especially for pregnant and post-menopausal women, as well as the elderly. For these people, calcium supplements or calcium-enriched foods can help to ensure that they obtain the recommended dietary amount for their particular life stage.

NBR: Speaking of adequate intake, how bioavailable is calcium from calcium carbonate?

SL: High purity calcium carbonate has a bioavailable calcium content of approximately 40% and is one of the most concentrated sources of calcium on the market.

So, whether it’s for the fortification of baby foods, beverages or baked goods, it’s possible to use up to five times less Calcipur than other available technical solutions to achieve the same calcium dose in the finished foodstuff, thus minimising the cost of manufacturing.

Reference

1. E. Hernlund, et al., “Osteoporosis in the European Union: Medical Management, Epidemiology and Economic Burden. A report Prepared in Collaboration with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA),” Arch. Osteoporos. 8, 136 (2013).

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