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Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are often grouped together in discussion. Though both types of nutrient play essential roles in health, they are actually very different. While vitamins are organic substances, minerals are inorganic and occur naturally in the environment in rocks, eventually ending up in soil and water.

Different types of minerals

Two main kinds of minerals are needed for nutrition: macro minerals and trace minerals. Both types are equally important to the body, but macro minerals are required in higher amounts than trace minerals.

Examples of macro minerals include

  • Calcium, which supports bone health and muscle contraction
  • Magnesium, which regulates blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Potassium, which impacts nervous system function and protein formation

Examples of trace minerals include

  • Iron, which supports immune function and blood cell formation
  • Zinc, which supports growth and development and immune function
  • Iodine, which supports the proper work of the thyroid

Demand for Minerals in Food Products

Many people get all the minerals they need to stay healthy by eating a broad diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy as many foods contain essential minerals naturally. For example, milk products contain calcium, and leafy greens contain iron. Even so, many people struggle to get the minerals they need through normal foods because of either dietary restrictions or general eating habits. In response, manufacturers restore minerals which are lost during processing or add additional minerals that do not occur naturally in a food product. That way it is easier for people to fill nutritional gaps.

Minerals are added to food products in form of mineral salts, and the variety of mineral salts is very wide. To give an example, three common used mineral salts for calcium enrichment and their typical properties are:

  • Calcium Lactate: good solubility, high calcium bio-availability and neutral taste
  • Calcium Phosphate: high calcium content and “double” fortification: calcium and phosphorous
  • Calcium Carbonate: high calcium content,, low solubility, bulking agent.

Applications for minerals

Many products can benefit consumers when added minerals are used as ingredients, including:

  • Bakery
  • Cereal and cereal bars
  • Dairy products
  • Confectionary
  • Beverages
  • Nutritional products, such as infant food, sports nutrition, meal replacers
  • Dietary supplements

Calcium salts have also very important technological functions in different processes of food processing: they promote the gelling of several hydrocolloids, they help to stabilize the protein in milk and they can be used to maintain a firm structure in sterilized vegetables, and are used as anti-caking agents in powders.

The selection criteria for minerals depend on: the solubility of the mineral salt and the intended application, the cost-in-use, the mineral content of the salt, the bio-availability, the influence on taste and the source.

Regulatory

Please check carefully the laws and regulations applicable for you. Please keep in mind that you are responsible for compliance with any applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

Get in touch

If you have questions about which mineral to use in your product and potential applications, contact Brenntag Food & Nutrition. Our trained product experts can help you find a solution that is right for your intended use.

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