Millions of people follow vegan and vegetarian diets and while these diets have purported health benefits, they can also lack essential nutrients, such as vitamins B12 and D3 important for normal growth and development of healthy strong bones and teeth.
A study published in ACS Food Science & Technology reported that researchers packed a strawberry-flavored gummy with these vitamins, formulating it without any animal products so vegans and vegetarians can reach their recommended daily allowances (RDA).
Some vital vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, are only found in animal products, while others can be obtained from a variety of sources. Humans, for example, can produce vitamin D3 when their skin is exposed to sunlight, but many people do not get enough sunlight to meet their vitamin D requirements.
As a result, it is mostly consumed through fish, eggs, and organ meats, which vegans and some vegetarians do not eat. People who follow a plant-based diet frequently take supplements to avoid vitamin deficiencies, however, due to their different solubilities, combining vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 in one pill has proven difficult.
Previous researchers have shown that pectin, a plant-based polysaccharide, can be used as a gelling agent in animal product-free foods. So, Ms. Samantha Pinho and colleagues in their study titled, “Emulsion-Filled Pectin Gels for Vehiculation of Vitamins D3 and B12: From Structuring to the Development of Enriched Vegan Gummy Candies,” wanted to see if they could use only plant-based ingredients, such as pectin, to produce a gummy candy enriched with vitamins that would be acceptable to consumers.
The researchers created an emulsion by combining citrate buffer, inulin, gum arabic, flaxseed oil, and vitamin D3, and a pectin gel by dissolving a type of pectin, calcium chloride, and vitamin B12 in citrate buffer.
The researchers then produced an emulsion-filled gel by rapidly stirring the emulsion into the pectin gel with sugar. After drying, the gel turned into a reddish gummy substance. Then they added a natural strawberry flavor to the gel and shaped it into half-inch-wide candies to turn it into a culinary product.
In sensory tests, 120 untrained panelists gave the gummies high scores for taste, color, aroma and overall acceptability. About half of the panelists said they would buy the enriched gummy, with another 36 percent saying they might buy the product. The researchers say their results pave the way to make food products more nutritious.