Review highlights potential of nano-delivery systems for nutraceuticals in foods

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Review highlights potential of nano-delivery systems for nutraceuticals in foods

Related tags Nutrition

While there are several challenges involved in the nano-delivery of vitamins and nutrients in functional foods, such systems have ‘considerable potential’ within the food industry, says an expert in oral delivery systems.

Recent interest in producing functional foods, that deliver beneficial ingredients for health and wellbeing in a food format than looks and tastes like ‘normal foods’ has led to surging interest in the development of nanoscale systems for the encapsulation, protection, and delivery of lipophilic nutrients, vitamins, and nutraceuticals, says Professor David Julian McClements at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Writing in the Journal of Food Science​, the colloid and oral delivery expert suggests that nanoscale delivery systems have numerous potential applications in the food industry, but warns that while such delivery systems ‘have considerable potential’ within the food industry, “they must be carefully formulated to ensure that they are safe, economically viable, and effective.”

In his review which highlights methods for designing, fabricating, characterising, and utilising edible nanoparticles from a variety of different food-grade ingredients, McClements also suggests that future research should focus on the development of nano-delivery systems that are commercially viable.

“This will involve carrying out an analysis of potential costs associated with fabricating them, and performing stress tests that simulate real conditions that might be encountered within the food industry,”​ he said.

Nano-delivery insights

McClements’ review suggests that the potential application of nano-scale delivery systems within the food industry are vast, but highlights a few specific examples of their applications, including the improved handling and dispersibility of ingredients.

The delivery expert also noted that nano-based systems also offer enhanced chemical stability that may be beneficial to certain lipophilic nutraceuticals that are highly susceptible to chemical degradation within food products or within the gastrointestinal tract.

“For example, omega-3 oils, carotenoids, and curcumin are all unstable to oxidation, which is accelerated by light, heat, oxygen, and transition metals,”​ he said.

Meanwhile, nano-scale delivery systems are also particularly useful for increasing the oral bioavailability of bioactive agents, said McClements: “The increase in bioavailability depends on droplet composition, size, and interfacial properties, and so these properties can be optimized to develop effective delivery systems,”​ he wrote.

“The bioaccessibility of lipophilic bioactives in nanoscale delivery systems has also been shown to depend on the dimensions of the particles encapsulating them,”​ he commented.

Controlled and targeted release

“Another major potential application for nanoscale delivery systems is the controlled or targeted release of lipophilic bioactive components,”​ wrote McClements.

Indeed, he noted that release can be triggered by a range of mechanisms, including time, dilution, pH, ionic strength, temperature, mechanical forces, and enzyme activities.

“The delivery systems should be designed to retain and protect the bioactive agents under certain conditions, but then release them under other specific conditions,”​ he said – noting that biopolymer nanoparticles and microgels formed by dietary fibres may be able to deliver a variety of bioactives to the colon, provided that they remain intact and impermeable within the upper GIT.

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12919
“Nanoscale Nutrient Delivery Systems for Food Applications: Improving Bioactive Dispersibility, Stability, and Bioavailability”
Author: David Julian McClements

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