Vitamins for different life stages

When developing products for different age groups, F&B manufacturers need to ensure that products meet the specific needs of and are formulated for people at risk of vitamin deficiencies. We interviewed Mohammed Benghezal, Director of the Swiss Vitamin Institute, to understand which steps manufacturers should take to ensure that their products meet consumers’ vitamin requirements at every life stage.



Can you explain a bit about SVI and its work?
‘The SVI is a Foundation focused on public health. It is a leader in vitamin analytics in any matrices ranging from food, beverages, supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics to biological and medical samples. The SVI also offers an independent quality control program for vitamin supplements. In addition, the SVI has gained a solid expertise in research and innovation and is actively contributing, through partnerships, to new product development.’

What is the importance of consuming the right vitamins and minerals in your diet?
‘Most vitamins are not stored by the body but are essential in small amounts for metabolic pathways to function properly. Thus, a balanced diet guaranteeing adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals is key to promote and preserve good health during the entire life for both healthy and people at risk of nutritional deficiencies.’

Is it better to take supplements to increase your intake of certain vitamins or minerals? Or through a change in diet?
‘The priority is a balanced diet, a source of health. Vitamin supplementation represents an alternative in case of difficulties or inability to cover the recommended vitamin daily intake. For example, in case of veganism, medical conditions, pregnancy, supplementation may be needed.’

What should F&B manufacturers consider when developing products for different age groups?
‘Ensure that products meet the specific needs of and are formulated for people at risk of vitamin deficiencies. For example, vitamin B12 absorption is complex and relies on a healthy gastrointestinal tract, thus elderly people are at higher risk of B12 malabsorption compared to younger people.’

Is there a particular demographic that requires more supplementation of their diets?
‘Due to the lack of epidemiological data for the resident population, at least in Switzerland, today the identification of groups at risk of vitamin deficiency is not sufficiently known. There are some data on vitamin deficiencies (vitamin D and B12) in certain population groups, but it is insufficient to target which groups are at risk for specific vitamin deficiencies. Other vitamin requirements /deficiencies are emerging in relationship to disease such as vitamin B1 in heart failure.’

How can manufacturers ensure there is the right level of vitamins and minerals in their products?
‘By an independent certification of the vitamin content of their products, as offered by the SVI. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and others such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) do provide dietary reference values and dietary guidelines. The SVI certification takes these recommendations into account to certify the vitamin content of products that have to be compliant with the guidelines.’

What are your predictions for the F&B industry in the next 3-5 years?
‘The SVI believes that future success in the F&B industry will require evidence-based health benefits of novel products to satisfy the demand of educated customers who may be at risk of deficiency. Thus, the SVI suggests the following roadmap to achieve this goal:

  • R&D efforts and partnerships for the identification of new groups at risk for vitamin deficiencies that should benefit from vitamin supplementation.
  • Validation of the relevance of vitamin supplementation for people at risk.
  • Innovation and valorisation of products rich in natural or non-natural vitamins.’

Be sure to catch Mohammed Benghezal’s presentation ‘Vitamins for different stages of life’, at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Master Class: Life Stages on Wednesday, 29th November 14:30-17:15.
He will also be talking about ‘Building customer trust with vitamin certification to grow your business’ at the Expo FoodTec Content Hub on Thursday, 30th November 10:30–11:10.