Alternative Delivery Systems for Dietary Supplements


Emerging delivery systems are spicing things up for functional ingredients.

Tablets and capsules may still rule the dietary supplements industry, but other delivery systems are emerging to break that mold. From dissolvable thin strips to sniffable and spray-on formulas, marketers are finding new ways to draw consumer interest, while delivering an efficacious dose.

How Sweet It Is

For those who love sweets, candy is a delicious way to get a daily dose of nutrients.

Good Cacao, marketed as “the world’s finest superfood chocolate,” has paved the way in the functional chocolates category. The brand has worked with many of the industry’s most notable brand-name ingredients, including Fuji Health’s AstaReal astaxanthin, Martek Bioscience’s life’sDHA, Biothera’s Wellmune WGP beta-glucan, Kemin Health’s FloraGLO lutein, and Cargill’s CoroWise phytosterols. Recently, the company partnered with Ganeden Biotech’s Bacillus coagulans probiotic strain GanedenBC30. The bar won a Nutracon award during March’s Natural Products Expo West trade show. Good Cacao’s president Paul Frantellizzi says the company is currently in development with other ingredients as well.

Cobranding with name-brand ingredients has numerous benefits, Frantellizzi says. “When I started this venture and decided to use chocolate as a delivery mechanism for nutraceuticals and whole-food ingredients, I decided to go with some of these larger companies for a host of reasons. One is brand-reinforced power. Another is their ability to assist me as a small company in really getting these concepts to market. Probably most important is the effort, money, and human studies that they’ve put into testing and proving their own ingredients. In partnering with them, I gain all of that knowledge.”

Working with these companies also comes with stipulations, he adds. “One of the foremost agreements that we have with every company is that when we put a brand on our package, we put an efficacious dose of the ingredient in our product. We don’t ‘pixie dust.’”

At the Natural Products Expo show, another new player in the functional chocolate category emerged: CocoXan, which offers functional “European-style” truffles targeting heart, cognitive, prenatal, and premenstrual health. Ingredients include life’sDHA, Wellmune WGP, folic acid, bilberry, and Kaneka’s QH ubiquinol.

Is there some irony in providing consumers with healthy ingredients in a chocolate bar? Frantellizzi says he can understand that “there are still some people in the market who think that chocolate isn’t very good for you, but I think that chocolate is an incredibly healthy product. There are a lot of studies coming out in the market to show this. We also add things like palm oil, coconut oil, palm tocotrienols-amazing things that I believe are very good for you systematically.”

Chew on This

Gum is making inroads as a delivery system, says Gumlink A/S (Vejle, Denmark), which has become a specialist in this area.

The company recently patented its “bi-layer compressed chewing gum,” which is specifically designed to incorporate nutraceuticals. According to Thomas Jahn, junior marketing manager, the technology is unique in several ways. First, it’s manufactured using a dry and cold process, which ensures survival of sensitive active ingredients. Secondly, the gum is made purely from powder, which Jahn says ensures ingredients are released more efficiently compared to traditional chewing gum. Finally, the patented bi-layer contains both a gum layer as well as a sweetener/mint layer that releases ingredients more rapidly-making it possible to time-release active ingredients.

Jahn says Gumlink can work with an array of ingredients, including all essential vitamins, 11 essential minerals, CoQ10, caffeine, Echinacea, guarana, L-theanine, chondroitin sulfate, phytosterols, ginseng, Pycnogenol, and more, at dosages sometimes exceeding 250 mg/piece. Last year, Gumlink showcased gum developed with Fluxome’s (Stenlose, Denmark) resveratrol, and at this year’s Vitafoods trade show, it will showcase gum with Ingredia Nutritional’s (Arras, France) Lactium calming ingredient. The company is currently exploring the use of probiotics, which presents challenges due to their sensitivity to moisture.

Gumlink believes gum has high potential. “Companies are steadily beginning to realize how effective chewing gum as a delivery system can be,” says Jahn. In addition to gum’s convenience and other benefits, it delivers ingredients buccally (through the cheeks or mouth cavity), which has been shown to exhibit faster absorption of ingredients in the bloodstream. The company predicts new target areas to include cognitive health, beauty, and heart health, among others.


Easy Does It

For many alternative delivery systems, the goal is to address consumers who have difficulty swallowing-or who just prefer not to swallow-tablets and capsules.

The rise of liquid delivery systems is indication of this. Companies like Reserveage Organics, which specializes in resveratrol products, have introduced liquid products for these customers. However, Reserveage CEO and founder Naomi Whitel warns, “Although most supplements can be manufactured in a liquid form, it is not always the best method for a finished product. Many individual vitamins and minerals are best suited for powder format for capsules or tablets. Vitamins and minerals are also difficult to mask as far as taste and texture.” Reserveage has sidestepped this problem, recently receiving a taste award for its Resveratrol Cellular Age-Defying Tonic from Taste for Life magazine.

Effervescents are another approach to liquid gaining traction. Nordic Naturals markets a cod liver omega-3 supplement in this format, in a creamy orange drink that the company says tastes great. Vitamins brand Vitalah is hoping kids will be drawn to effervescents and recently launched a children’s version of its Oyxlent effervescent daily multivitamin drink that it hopes will be a fun alternative to sugary juices and sodas.

For those who have trouble swallowing supplements, a patent-pending dissolvable supplement developed by AlternaVites might do the trick. Touted as “the first ever multivitamin and mineral that instantly melts in the mouth,” the product comprises crystals designed to be sprinkled and dissolved on the tongue. Company founder Hallie Rich says the brand has received good feedback from “consumers who have found AlternaVites to be an easy, convenient, and delicious way to take their daily multi.”

And, conventional tablets are also getting in the game. In March, Douglas Laboratories introduced EZ Swallow coating technology, which debuted on the brand’s Ultra Preventive EZ multivitamin. In addition to being smaller in size-while still maintaining the same serving size and delivering the same dose-the tablet features a natural-colored, flavor-masking natural-vanilla coating that “creates a more slippery pill surface to enable easier swallowing.”

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