Mineral deficiencies are widespread around the world, and while food fortification and supplementation are solutions, factors such as bioavailability are often ignored. Isaltis is a manufacturer of organic mineral salts for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food, cosmetic and veterinary industries. Tim Van de Gehuchte, innovation and business development director, explains how its approach to new products and a focus on organic, bioavailable mineral salts helps it to meet customers' needs.
Tim Van de Gehuchte: Isaltis is present worldwide, and we export at least 70% of our products to more than 50 countries, covering five continents. We work with customers directly and via a network of distributors.
Our comprehensive commercial, production, research and development, and regulatory teams allow us to offer a technical approach to meeting customers' requirements, supporting them in launching new products and solving any problems. We also have in place an application lab that can help our customers in formulating their products.
Globally, the biggest deficiencies are in magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc: 75% of the world's population are deficient in magnesium, and more than 30% in iron. Very often, mineral deficiencies go unnoticed because the symptoms are not unique to the mineral alone, but something as simple as supplementing can solve a lot of health problems.
Mineral salts need to have a good taste, good solubility and be stable. Above all, they must have high bioavailability, which is a difficult concept to get right. Bioavailability is influenced by a lot of factors, so engineering mineral salts is quite a challenge. For this reason, at Isaltis, we focus on glycerophosphate salts.
What are the advantages of organic mineral salts versus inorganic, and how do the two compare in terms of bioavailability?
Organic mineral salts are minerals that are chelated to an organic acid; this greatly increases their stability. A chelated mineral remains bound for a longer period of time, and offers higher bioavailability and significantly fewer side effects like gut irritation compared with inorganic - often rock-based - ones.
Inorganic mineral salts are often insoluble, meaning your body needs to convert them into soluble salts in the stomach for them to be absorbed in the small intestine. This causes a lot of side effects, such as cramps and diarrhoea, and is quite an ineffective process. It is estimated, for instance, that the bioavailability of magnesium oxide is only 4%.
One of the most promising and effective salt forms is glycerophosphate. Glycerophosphate is a molecule already known to the body, because the human system produces it and uses it to synthesise the phospholipids that make up the cell membrane. It can also be used to produce energy in the brain.
Glycerophosphate salts such as magnesium glycerophosphate are stable, highly soluble and highly bioavailable organic salts that are tasteless and cause no side effects. They reach the small intestine in an intact form, where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. They are also an excellent form of phosphate supplementation when it comes to bone health.
Mineral supplementation is a short to medium-term solution for what is a critical deficiency. Food fortification is, in that respect, a more medium-to-long-term solution. However, different populations have different dietary habits, so supplementation may become part of some consumers' lives.
Both methods, supplementation and fortification, look for good taste and high bioavailability; but the extra challenge that lies in food fortification is the stability and homogeneity of the end product. The mineral has to have a minimal impact upon the food source, for instance, so that it doesn't cause oxidation, or flavour or colour change.
The experience and knowledge we have built up during the past hundred years enables us to offer innovative solutions and new products to our customers.
A great example of this is Hydra4G, a product we have just launched based on our glycerophosphate salts. Currently - particularly when it comes to sports nutrition - there are not many effective hydration products on the market. Isaltis recognised this gap and developed Hydra4G to fill it: it is a superhydration product that is easily digestible, highly hydrating, and offers highly bioavailable mineral salts and no side effects. It also effectively delivers magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium to the body.