Choosing The Right Nutrient Form

By: Moira Watson on Apr 7, 2015

Are you formulating an enrichment blend or fortifying a food or beverage for a dietary supplement product?

If so, selecting the right nutrient form for each vitamin and mineral will be critical to ensuring your success in developing a product that tastes great and meets label claim, while staying within market price restraints.

Your marketing department or product managers may have determined which nutrients you want to add to your product, and why. Now it is time to think about the attributes of ingredients you might want to use. Nutrient blends or premixes must be tailored for a specific application and end-use.


You can start with the nutritional labeling. Typically, a formulator will start the premix design by determining the desired amount of the DV for each of the nutrients you want to claim on the label.

Nutrient levels can be depicted differently on the label. Some nutrients are measured as International Units (IU), other as milligrams (mg) and still others as micrograms (mcg), for example. Consideration must be given to how much space each nutrient is going to take up in your product.

When we consider which form of each nutrient to add, we are looking at physical characteristics of the nutrient form, such as stability, color, flavor, and interactions with other nutrients. We also need to look at use-rates as well.

Considering the commercial forms of each nutrient is very important. For example, if you want to add Vitamin B-1 you can choose between Thiamine Hydrochloride and Thiamine Mononitrate. Thiamine Hydrochloride is 79% vitamin B-1 in activity, where as Thiamine Mononitrate is 81% Vitamin B-1. Both are white powders, and soluble in water. The Mononitrate form has a stronger odor. The Hydrochloride form is more soluble in water. Therefore, you might choose the Mononitrate form if you are designing a dietary supplement tablet, because it is the more active form, whereas the Hydrochloride form might be better suited for a beverage because it is more soluble in water.

Minerals can have a big effect on finished products. Macro minerals can effect pH, for example. Micro minerals can be oxidizers, effecting other nutrients. Zinc ions, for example, can attack Vitamin C, and cause degradation.

Minerals like Calcium can have a major impact on your products.100 mg of calcium is required for 10% DV (Daily Value). No forms available, however, are 100% Calcium. Calcium Lactate is soluble in water, but it's only 13% calcium. To make a claim of 10% DV for Calcium using Calcium Lactate, you would need to use 746 mg. This much Calcium Lactate in your product could cause a pH switch. Some of the lower-soluble forms of calcium have higher concentrations of calcium. Tricalcium Phosphate (TCP) for example is 39% calcium, so you would only need 256 mg to deliver 10% of the DV for calcium. But some of these forms can be a bit mouth numbing, and can nullify flavor from your flavor system. As a result, you might need to add more flavor.

In summary, when formulating nutritional fortification or enrichment, start with the end label. Understand the finished product and the market you are selling to. Know what the packaging is going to be for the finished product, and the shelf life of that product. Also, calculate overages for processing losses. All this must be done correctly to ensure you meet label claim.

What to know more? Watch our 10 minute on-demand webinar on Selection of Nutrient Form presented by Alice Wilkinson, one of the foremost industry-recognized experts in the field of nutritional formulation.

View Choosing Nutrient Form Video

Watson also provides a nutrient encyclopedia called Nutri-Knowledge℠ which lists the forms of nutrients that are available for use in formulation of enrichment and fortification premixes.