Vegan ingredient for enriching vegetable drinks

The growth in the consumption of vegetable drinks in the world points to a trend towards the replacement of animal milk due to different factors: food intolerances, consumption habits, replacement of animal origin food and the impact on the environment. However, the replacement of milk, considered essential for the first months of life due to the presence of proteins, minerals and vitamins, needs to be very well evaluated.

Animal milk provides significant amounts of calcium that is so important to our body. So, would you drink a low-calcium vegetable milk? Mineral carbonate is one of the main ingredients used to enrich foods and beverages to provide calcium.

If the intention is in fact to remove or reduce milk and dairy products from daily consumption, other sources of calcium deserves attention. For children, the enrichment of vegetable drinks guarantees the contribution of this important mineral for the strengthening and maintenance of bones and teeth, in addition to preventing heart-related diseases. For the adult public, maintaining a diet rich in calcium guarantees the renewal of bone tissue, ensuring its strengthening. Due to several factors, low calcium intake in the medium and long term can cause several diseases, especially osteopenia and consequent osteoporosis.

Using a plant-derived calcium in vegetable drinks ensures better absorption and use by our body in order to keep our bones strong and healthy. Lithothamnion seaweed naturally contains calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals. As it is a vegetable, it is not derived from rocks, stones and ores, having an absorption rate 40% higher than calcium from mineral and animal origin.

Day after day, vegetable drinks are gaining space in meals worldwide. An alternative to traditional cow's milk, it can already be found in different versions, flavors and bases. On the shelves of supermarkets and establishments, vegetable-based beverage options are increasingly driven by veganism, by intolerance to animal milk compounds or even by conscious consumption and impact on the environment considering the milk production chain. According to Mintel Research, innovative food and beverage formulations will help people learn how diet can affect mental and emotional health, which will lead to new interest in psychology-based studies and approaches to healthier eating.

Unlike animal milk, which has variations in fat content, according to current legislation, the plant-based variety is huge. More and more we find different options regarding the applied base, flavors, among other aspects. Nut, almond, coconut, rice and even soy, the vegetable bases meet different profiles, different audiences, make the product viable according to financial conditions, health, and taste preferences.

To guarantee the replacement of animal milk by vegetable bases, keeping some elements is of fundamental importance. Calcium, one of the main nutrients provided by the consumption of animal milk, must be present in vegetable milk in order to guarantee the necessary intake for maintenance of vital activities. In this sense, calcium sources can be of inorganic origin (rocks, stones and ore) or organic, in the case of seaweed. Lithothamnion sp., which is a vegetable, has high bioavailability and it is an excellent alternative for human consumption.

Studies show a bioavailability of 87% when compared to other sources of calcium such as mineral carbonate (dolomite) and oysters, which present 27 and 69%, respectively. Due to the high porosity of the algae, its structure provides a greater specific surface for action and contributes to better absorption of minerals deposited in the algae's structure. Lithothamnion marine algae are the organisms that most accumulate calcium in their interior, being also composed of magnesium and more than 20 trace elements, present in variable amounts such as iron, boron, potassium, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, silicon, phosphorus and selenium. This is another big difference since other ingredients used provide only calcium as a source of enrichment. Lithothamnion seaweed naturally provides different minerals in a single ingredient.

The use of ingredients known as "clean label", in the case of seaweed, certainly are more innovative than products formulated with conventional ingredients that do not offer additional benefits. In addition to contributing to the presence of bioavailable minerals and in amounts that can be absorbed by our body, Lithothamnion marine algae are renewable sources, their extraction is carried out without impact to the environment and the extraction is limited, minimizing any effects on the environment. The production and processing chain of marine algae from Lithothamnion sp. allows recognition of the ingredient as organic, Kosher, Halal and even other programs related to food quality and safety. Choosing an ingredient that meets these requirements guarantees the quality and safety of foods enriched with Lithothamnion sp. The application is an innovative option, guaranteeing in a single ingredient the best absorption rates, bioavailability and the natural presence of essential minerals other than calcium.


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