Bone health concerns, such as bone mineral density, bone mass and osteoporosis, are issues commonly associated with an aging population. Although many products are available that target the specific concerns of the baby boomer generation, manufacturers are recognizing the issue is not tied to age.

“Historically, women and adults age 60-plus have been the focus of bone and joint products,” says Ram Chaudhari, senior executive vice president and chief scientific officer for Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y. “The market is growing, as a rising number of men and younger adults are being diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.”

This includes baby boomers, says Loretta Kelly, product manager of health and nutrition ingredients for Corn Products International, Westchester, Ill.

“I think the growing baby boomer population is looking at trying to find an alternative rather than taking pills to get their nutrition needs,” Kelly says. “They see themselves as more active and independent, so I think health beverages, in particular, really can be targeted at that baby boomer population.”

For beverage-makers, trends indicate that consumers of all age groups are more comfortable with receiving calcium, vitamins, minerals and complementary ingredients that address bone health concerns in the form of fortified foods and beverages. Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) indicates that bone health claims have been made by a range of new beverages in the past year. Last year, GNPD reported that Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition, Florham Park, N.J., repackaged its Boost Vanilla Flavored Nutritional Energy Drink that contains protein and the CalciLock complex for bone health. Boost is available in 8-ounce bottles with an easy-open tab that are available in 12-packs, the company says.

In addition, calcium fortifications are popular in juice drinks. Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store chain Walgreens introduced A Healthy Start to Your Day Pulp-Free Orange Juice that is fortified with calcium, GNPD reports.

Women are a popular market for bone health ingredients in foods and beverages, Kelly adds. She also sees a market emerging for young women between the ages of 9 and 13.

“We’re trying to increase the level of calcium absorption that [females aged 9 to 13] are getting on a regular basis,” Kelly says. “They’re another group that’s not prone to supplementation. They want to get it in the food that they eat and consume. Functional foods allow them to consume more calcium and other healthy ingredients.”

Children, in general, also are an emerging market as parents are interested in making sure their children get the right nutrition to maintain good bone health to support growth and development, says Bonney Oommen, business development manager for Glanbia Nutritionals, a division of Ireland-based Glanbia plc.

Calcium combinations
Calcium is the mineral most commonly associated with bone health, but it also requires complementary vitamins and minerals to boost its benefits and bioavailability, experts say. Ingredient suppliers have created custom mixes that incorporate complementary vitamins and minerals, including copper, magnesium, zinc and vitamins C, D and K, to boost the bone health benefits.

“Bone health overall is a complex problem, and it requires a lot of different ingredients in order to support,” Corn Products’ Kelly says. “You’ve got calcium and magnesium, which you use for bone health mineralization; vitamin D, which aids the absorption of calcium; vitamin C, copper and zinc, which can be used to build up collagen, but I think the important piece is that these ingredients all work in conjunction to support bone health.”

Corn Products offers Aquamin, a natural calcified mineral source that contains 13 percent calcium as well as up to 70 other trace minerals, including copper, zinc, magnesium, iron and boron, that help support overall bone health, Kelly says. The combination of minerals also increases the bioavailability of the calcium, she says.

The company offers Aquamin in two forms that can be used in a range of beverages, including juices, low-pH beverages and clear beverage solutions, Kelly says. Both Aquamin S and Aquamin Soluble forms are stable with heat and have a better sensory profile than most calcium ingredients, she says. The solubility benefit can help with mouthfeel, which is a specialty of Corn Products and its recently acquired company, National Starch.

“As a company, Corn Products and National Starch combined, we definitely have an image for texture,” she says. “We have a wide portfolio of ingredients that can be used in beverages that will help create a better overall, healthier profile of the beverage, but still maintain that texture and functionality, solubility and clear beverage format that consumers expect from a functional beverage.”

For increased absorption, Corn Products recommends combining Aquamin with its NutraFlora ingredient, which are short chain fructooligosaccharides.

“NutraFlora is a prebiotic fiber, so the way that it works is it’s going to alter the microflora of the gut,” Kelly says. “Then it will increase the production of short chain fatty acids, which will lower the pH that helps increase calcium absorption. The combination of NutraFlora at 3.2 grams a day along with calcium, particularly a calcium like Aquamin which is more bioavailable, allows consumers to increase overall calcium absorption, and thus increasing overall bone health.”

Fortifications that combine Aquamin and NutraFlora are the focus of a two-year study regarding bone mineralization and bone health markers in post-menopausal women. The company expects to release the results of the study later this year, Kelly says.

Clear beverage applications are a target for Innophos, Cranbury, N.J., which offers VersaCal Clear. The ingredient is a highly soluble calcium phosphate designed for use in clear beverages. VersaCal Clear’s combination of calcium and phosphorus was recognized at Health Ingredients Europe last fall. The ingredient received the Health Ingredients Excellence Award in the nutrition for young and old category, the company says.

“Traditionally, calcium fortification in clear beverages uses other calcium sources, such as lactates, gluconates and citrates, which can have an impact on flavor and stability in some formulations,” said Joseph W. Golowski, vice president of specialty phosphates for Innophos, in a statement. “Leveraging our technical expertise in phosphates, VersaCal Clear was developed to tackle this problem and provide manufacturers with a soluble source of both calcium and phosphorus.”

Importance of D
Vitamin D has been recognized as an important player in bone health fortifications due to its role in calcium absorption. Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., introduced Heart Healthy Pear Merlot juice that contains 25 percent of the daily value of vitamin D in an 8-ounce serving. Consumers also can get 25 percent of their daily value of vitamin D3 from Joint Juice On The Go! Blueberry Acai Flavored Drink Mixes. The San Francisco-based company also includes 10 percent of the daily value of calcium in the joint and bone health mixes.

“While calcium was for years the most often referenced antidote for bone weakness, in recent years, vitamin D has come to the fore for its own role in promoting musculoskeletal health, as well as for its significant supporting role to calcium in bone health,” Fortitech’s Chaudhari says. “While products may boast about added calcium on packaging, it needs to be better recognized that calcium works in combination with vitamin D to promote optimal bone health.”

Recent research indicates a high percentage of children younger than 11 years old are vitamin D deficient, Chaudhari says. Deficiency in vitamin D also affects a significant portion of people worldwide who do not get an adequate dose of the vitamin through exposure to sunlight or supplementation, he says.

The Coca-Cola Co.’s Glaceau division targeted bone health with the release of Vitaminwater Stur-D in late 2010. Stur-D is an enhanced water and juice beverage that provides calcium and 10 percent of the daily value of vitamin D in an 8-ounce serving. The blue agave, passionfruit and citrus flavored beverage also contains 120 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, which helps the body make the collagen necessary to support joints, and 40 percent of the daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12.

Neuro Drinks, Santa Monica, Calif., also created a variety that addresses vitamin D deficiency. Neuro Sun contains 1,000 International Units of vitamin D, which is 250 percent of the recommended daily value of the vitamin, the company says.

Health is Wealth Products, Willamstown, N.J., created Nutriccino, a vitamin infused coffee beverage that includes 10 percent of the daily value of calcium and 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin D in a 9.5-ounce serving. The product is made with South American coffee and is available in a Mocha Latte variety.

Glanbia Nutritionals offers TruCal, an ingredient derived from milk, that contains calcium and natural minerals, such as vitamin D, to provide more efficient mineral retention and calcium absorption, Oommen says. TruCal includes 21 minerals that are found in milk, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. The company purifies the entire mineral package from natural milk, which results in a balanced approach to mineral supplementation, she says.

“Milk minerals are a relatively recent advance, which provides ideal ingredients for bone growth and development,” Oommen says. “As consumers look for better ingredients and become more educated about their choices, milk minerals will continue to become a key ingredient for formulators looking at developing beverages to support bone health.”

TruCal is suited for formulation in dairy-based, juice-based and high-acid beverages, the company says. In a neutral pH application, TruCal can be provided in a small particle size that is small enough to be undetectable from a sensory standpoint, she says. If the finished product has a pH below 4, the minerals will dissolve, Oommen adds.

Boosting benefits
In addition to calcium and vitamin D, Fortitech’s Chaudhari also indicates several additional fortification options, including vitamin K, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and more, that have been shown to help bone health.

Research has indicated that vitamin K might play an important role in maintaining bone health and reducing risk of osteoporotic bone fracture in the elderly, Chaudhari says.

A separate study found that 50 mg. a day supplementation of DHEA helped older men who were given calcium and vitamin D supplements during the course of two years exhibit no change in bone mineral density, he says. The same study found that DHEA in combination with calcium and vitamin D increased bone mineral density in women, Chaudhari says.

Bone mineral density as well as bone mass are issues that Corn Products’ Kelly foresees becoming a focus for science and a topic that consumers are more readily interested in.

“I think people just think calcium is good for bone mineralization, but they don’t think about the whole picture with bone mineral density and bone mass,” she says.

In addition to ingredients for bone mineralization, Chaudhari also cites boron, magnesium, vitamin C, glucosamine, resveratrol and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) as additional options in fortifications designed for bone health benefits.

Fortitech offers custom nutrient premixes that allow beverage-makers to tailor formulas and the collection of ingredients to a particular application. The company’s process creates a premix that delivers on taste, stability and texture, Chaudhari says. In addition to serving a health benefit, Fortitech’s nutrient premixes also provide processing advantages, such as better distribution for homogeneity, he says.