Taking calcium beyond bone health

Omyaforte addresses the calcium needs of professional and amateur sportspeople alike, reports Lalit Sharma, Innovation Manager, Food, Omya International AG

Calcium plays a much bigger role in health than just contributing to strong bones and teeth. For example, the mineral is required for the contraction of the heart and skeletal muscles.

It also helps with nerve signal transmission and it’s essential for normal blood clotting when injury occurs. In addition, adequate calcium is needed to activate the enzyme lipase, which breaks down the body’s fat stores to produce energy. In short, it’s essential for every active person — from professional runners to weekend joggers!

Lalit Sharma

However, it can be difficult for fitness enthusiasts to achieve an adequate dietary intake, especially when they are on a vegan or vegetarian diet that has limited calcium-rich foods.

High intensity training can also lead to calcium deficiencies, especially in women. Excessive exercise with insufficient calories to meet training demands can cause hormones to drop, interfering with bone formation and increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

In addition, calcium is one of the minerals lost in sweat. For these reasons, calcium supplements and fortified foods can be helpful.

A novel source of calcium

The amount of calcium in the diet is not the only thing that’s important. Also crucial is the bioavailability of the mineral or, in other words, the amount that’s absorbed by the body through intestinal cells.

Omyaforte 100 from mineral producer, Omya, is a highly bioavailable source of calcium that’s suitable for powdered formulations and dietary supplements.

From a nutritional point of view, two factors are important: the amount of elemental calcium in the salt and the bioavailability of that calcium. Compared with reference products, Omyaforte 100 offers a higher elemental calcium content and greater bioavailability.

It contains 39% elemental calcium, which is almost twice as much as calcium citrate (21%).

Thanks to a patented recrystallisation process, the specially tailored calcium source offers a new mineral composition and structure with high porosity, which allows for faster access to gastric juices in the stomach.

Proven bioavailability

To verify the enhanced intestinal absorption of Omyaforte 100 compared with other commercially available calcium sources, researchers tested its bioavailability with a Caco-2 cell line model — a widely used in vitro method to determine nutrient absorption by the intestine.

The results showed that Omyaforte 100 is almost twice as biologically available as calcium citrate and natural calcium carbonate (NCC).1

On average, calcium uptake efficiency for tricalcium phosphate was 1.85%, for NCC it was 3%, for calcium citrate tetrahydrate it was 3.41% and for Omyaforte 100 it was 5.68%. These results suggest that, as uptake efficiency values vary, the type of calcium salt may affect the bioavailability of the calcium (Table I).

Table I: Comparison of different calcium sources at 30% RDA

In addition, Omyaforte 100 shows the fastest calcium ion release compared with the other calcium sources (Figure 1). This means higher solubility of the salt in acidic environments, such as gastric juices, which results in a quicker release of calcium ions for absorption into the bloodstream via the small intestine.

Figure 1: Comparison of calcium ion release for different calcium salts

This research clearly demonstrates that Omyaforte 100 not only contains a high percentage of elemental calcium (39%), but is also extremely bioavailable, making it an excellent and proven source of calcium for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Serving various fitness needs

With casual users and infrequent exercisers also using products such as whey powders and protein bars, the sports nutrition market remains strong. Although the coronavirus pandemic has affected gyms and fitness centres, people have been finding other ways to work out: they are increasingly biking, jogging and/or exercising at home.

The overall trend appears to be towards increased physical activity. Thus, sports nutrition products and supplements are likely to see sustained demand. There is also the fact that a wider range of consumers is now focusing on the importance of being fit.

They are no longer interested in just building muscle or increasing performance, they’re seeking targeted nutritional support for before, during and after a workout.

In line with this new sports landscape, formulations with Omyaforte 100 can be targeted towards a diverse audience — from hardcore athletes to weekend warriors and those seeking a healthy and active lifestyle.

The natural mineral ingredient is suitable for all sorts of powdered sports nutrition products, on-the-go sachets, vitamin and mineral mixes, as well as rehydration powders, and can also be included in a variety of foodstuffs without affecting their sensory properties.

As it combines high levels of elemental calcium with rapid and effective calcium uptake, only a small amount is needed to reach recommended daily intakes: as little as 770 mg of Omyaforte 100 is required to reach 30% of the daily recommended dose of 1000 mg calcium, compared with 1428 mg of calcium citrate tetrahydrate.

Foods fortified with the ingredient offer pleasant taste profiles, high calcium bioavailability and require only minor recipe interventions.

In addition, Omyaforte 100 can be combined with a broad range of other nutrients. For instance, blends might include collagen peptides for joint health, nootropics for focus or probiotics for gut health and immune support.

These formulations underscore the fact that performance involves much more than muscle building and that consumers are eager for products that combine a number of benefits in one package.

One such concept is a cocoa-based prototype drink for bone health developed by Omya and collagen peptide expert GELITA. It contains 240 mg of calcium — enough to provide 30% of the recommended daily amount of the mineral — and 5 g of FORTIBONE Bioactive Collagen Peptides.

This prototype drink is just one example of the many opportunities that Omyaforte 100 opens up for manufacturers who are looking for nutritious, effective and easy to process sports nutrition ingredients.

Reference

  1. J.A. Nieto, et al., “Improved In Vitro Bioavailability of a Newly Developed Functionalized Calcium Carbonate Salt as a Food Ingredient and Its Comparison with Available Commercial Calcium Salts,” Food Chemistry 348 (2021): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.128740.

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