Nutritional Fortification with Tricalcium Citrate
Basel, January 1st, 2002 – Tricalcium citrate (TCC) is a high-quality calcium source for food fortification. Its main characteristics are good solubility under cold processing conditions and at low pH values, neutral taste and flavor profile, high calcium content and excellent bioavailability. Jungbunzlauer supplies TCC in various particle sizes; special granulations are available on request.
by Dr. Gerhard Gerstner, Jungbunzlauer Ladenburg
Optimizing Calcium Intake
Calcium is a key mineral in the human body, necessary for normal growth and development of the skeleton as well as for teeth, nerve, muscle and enzyme functions. As the body's calcium absorption capabilities reduce with age, it is vital for the aging to have a sufficient calcium intake. Calcium requirements vary throughout an individual's life and for different population groups. However, it is generally evident that a significant proportion of the population in Western countries fails to achieve the recommended calcium intakes. Poor dietary habits are seen to be responsible for this situation, especially when consumption of fast food is dominating the daily menu.
There are several options to avoid calcium deficiency by increasing the daily calcium intake: A balanced diet with calcium-rich foods like milk, dairy products and certain vegetables (broccoli, Chinese cabbage, legumes) would be the best solution. However, this would require a profound change in dietary habits of western society. A further possibility consists in consuming food products fortified with calcium. The third option is the intake of calcium supplement products.
Common Calcium Sources for Food Fortification and Supplementation
There are different calcium sources commercially available for use in food and dietary supplements:
- inorganic salts like calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate (most commonly used)
- organic salts like calcium lactate, calcium citrate and calcium gluconate. Besides TCC, Jungbunzlauer also supplies calcium gluconate in its anhydrous form (separate information is available upon request).
There are calcium salts with a rather good solubility like calcium gluconate and calcium lactate, but their drawback is a low calcium content. Calcium salts with a high calcium content, on the other hand, are poorly soluble. TCC offers a good combination: It shows a high calcium level and moderate solubility. And contrary to other salts, TCC is better soluble at low temperatures which can be an advantage for cold food processing.
Taste and Mouthfeel
Generally, high levels of calcium, particularly insoluble forms like carbonates and phosphates, tend to produce a chalky mouthfeel and may promote astringency or bitter taste in the finished product. Calcium lactate may impart some bitter notes. Calcium carbonate may come across as soapy or lemony and has the disadvantage of developing CO2 in the stomach. Calcium phosphate has a bland flavor, but imparts a gritty mouthfeel. TCC and calcium gluconate are considered to be the most neutral calcium salts.
Since the particle size and solubility as well as its dispersion characteristics are linked with mouthfeel properties, Jungbunzlauer has developed micronized grades of TCC.
The inorganic salts like carbonates and phosphates contain more calcium than the organic salts, but their application in food and beverages remains limited due to their poor solubility and the way in which they influence taste in final applications. Remain as option the organic calcium salts, among which TCC shows by far the highest calcium content (21%), compared to calcium lactate (13%) and calcium gluconate (9%).
Among the organic salts with better solubility and more neutral taste profiles, TCC clearly stands out as the most economic option for calcium addition, especially when the price per gram of calcium added is calculated for the product to be fortified.
Any nutrient's effectiveness depends on its bioavailability, which means how well the human body absorbs and utilizes it. On average, only about 10 to 30 % of calcium is absorbed from a mixed diet by healthy adults. Several different factors influence this level, among which the type of salt which provides the calcium.
Various scientific studies have shown that organic calcium salts outperform inorganic calcium sources such as calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate with regard to their relative bioavailability. Accordingly, the US National Institute of Health recommended calcium citrate for supplementation, especially for older individuals where absorbability can be a limiting factor due to reduced gastric acid production.
The use of TCC is particularly recommended in acidic applications like juices and fruit preparations, but also in various dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese. Due to its outstanding biocompatibility and long history of safe use in critical dietetic products and OTC-products, it is the calcium source of choice for baby food as well as for dietary supplements.
TCC granulations for powder and micronized powder and their main applications:
- Powder, particle size > 100 µm, max. 30%, main applications: food supplements (tablets, gelatine pills), dentifrice
- Micronized powder M 7090, particle size < 70 µm, min. 90%
- Micronized powder M 2090 < 20 µm, min. 90%
- Main applications for M 7090 and M 2090: Fruit preparations, dairy products, beverages, baby food, sweets
Special granulations are available upon request.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Gerhard Gerstner
Telephone: +49/ 6203/ 1040
Telephone: +1 617/ 969 09 00