What is Microencapsulation of Vitamins and Why Microencapsulated Vitamins in Pet Foods, Treats, and Supplements
There are two primary concerns when it comes to vitamins included in the pet foods, treats, and supplements, 1. Are they manufactured in China and 2. Do the vitamins still have their efficacy. First one is because of the severe lapses in the quality of not only vitamins made in China, but basically everything, while the second one is because vitamins degrade due to manufacturing and environmental conditions, such as temperature, air, moisture, exposure to light, transportation, storage etc. We at Science4Pets (www.science4pets.com) address both these concerns heads on buy procuring all our vitamins from non-China sources and microencapsulating them to prevent from degradation until reaching the pets’ tummy.
In this blog, I will briefly discuss microencapsulation of vitamins and why that’s important in the pet food industry.
What is Microencapsulation?
Microencapsulation is a state-of-the-art technology by which individual particles of an active ingredient or component, be they vitamins, minerals, flavors, drugs, aromas, fatty acids, etc., can be stored within a shell, surrounded or coated with a continuous film of polymeric material to produce particles in the micrometer to millimeter range, for protection and/or later release. The unique advantage of microencapsulation lies in that the core material is completely coated and isolated from external environment. In general, it is used to encapsulate active components, food ingredients, enzymes, cells or other materials on a micro metric scale.
Most of the active ingredients used in both food and other industries can degrade upon exposure to various environmental or industrial processes, such as heat, water, air, light, etc. Even the simple physical and mechanical processes can lead to the loss or degradation of these active components. The essence of microencapsulation is that a uniform and stable layer of shell material covers the core material by physical or chemical reactions such that the core is protected until reaching the target, a specific environment or after a specific time or duration.
Below figures describe the microencapsulation process in general.
Application of Micro-encapsulation Technology
The technology itself was developed several decades ago and in use since the mid 1950’s. It has been widely used in the fields of medicine, cosmetics, textile, and advanced materials. For those who are familiar with extended release, either because they may be taking such a drug themselves or know someone who does, it is basically based on microencapsulation. However, its use in food industry is not as common as in medicine or cosmetics industry. In the case of pet food industry, it is used only in a limited scale.
When it comes to vitamins, we haven't seen any pet food, vitamin premix, multi-vitamin products, raw diet supplements, treats or any other product that contains microencapsulated vitamins, while also being non-China. Science4Pets (www.science4pets.com) is the only one that is bringing such products in the market for the first time.
Why Microencapsulated Vitamins for Pets
In the case of vitamins and minerals, micro-encapsulation is a very specific technology whereby a given vitamin or group of vitamins are encapsulated at the tiny micro level such that the target nutrient(s) becomes available only upon reaching certain parts of the digestive system. In other words, such vitamins are likely to be released only after reaching your pet's tummy, not before. This ensures your pet will get the full benefit of the vitamin. Below figure illustrates microencapsulating the vitamins in general.
In a nutshell that is more applicable to food industry, it is a targeted delivery of vitamins or any other active ingredient in the digestive system.
Benefits of Microencapsulating Pet Vitamins
Basically, all vitamins are degradable by nature, some more than others. Degradation or loss of potency is affected greatly by the manufacturing method and duration of the process. Sometimes, the loss could be as high as 80-90%. As a result, a significant portion of many of the regular vitamins may have already been lost by the time they are bought and offered to your pet. That applies to any pet food, treat, or supplement, including multi-vitamins, manufactured by even the finest of the brands and most expensive of the products found in the market.
A massive benefit of such a technology as microencapsulation is that vitamins are actually available to the intended recipients, your pets. Unlike regular vitamins, they are not likely to degrade during processing (such as cooking, extrusion, irradiation or such other processes), handling, transportation, storage or while sitting in the shelves.
Another advantage is that there is not much, if any, of a need for overage, a very common practice in the vitamin industry. Overage is basically over fortification to compensate for the potential loss due to industrial processes and environmental exposure. Two unwanted consequences when we overage the vitamins. First, extra cost as that extra would not come free. That extra cost is passed on to the consumer without even realizing it. Second, the waste. When something extra is included, that would likely result in the extra waste too, a burden on the environment. Moreover, that unnecessary amount, if its still there when consumed by the animals, may be actually detrimental to the animal as well, particularly over a long period.
Another advantage is on the shelf life and best by use date. Although nutrient degradation is a rather slow, gradual process and there may be no such thing as a food or supplement just expiring after a given date, expected efficacy of vitamins contribute to determine that best by use date. With microencapsulation protecting the vitamins from environmental losses, it certainly increases the shelf life and best by use date, thus minimizing the loss.
Why Microencapsulation and non-China Vitamins?
At Science4Pets (www.science4pets.com), we address above mentioned concerns all pet parents have about the origin of vitamins and their efficacy head on by bringing the vitamins that have not been manufactured in China and microencapsulate them by going one step above and beyond. It helps retain the efficacy of vitamins, increases their stability, improves bioavailability to the animals, and therefore imparts the nutritional benefits vitamins are supposed to provide for the protection of your pets’ health. We haven't seen any pet food, vitamin supplement, raw diet supplements, treats or any other pet products that contain microencapsulated vitamins, while also being non-China. Science4Pets is the only one that is bringing such products in the market for the first time. It’s an extra step over and above everyone else that we take to provide the protection your pets need and deserve but can’t express themselves quite well.
What the Scientists Say about Microencapsulation?
Below are some really great peer reviewed scientific articles published in some of the best journals or edited books out there on microencapsulation, be they specifically on vitamins or some other aspects of food or other industries. These references illustrate why microencapsulation is the best when it comes to delivering the active ingredients like vitamins for enhancing their benefits to the target recipients by increasing the bioavailability, stability, efficacy, shelf life, etc.
- Wilson and Shah (2007): Microencapsulation of Vitamins. http://www.ifrj.upm.edu.my/afjv14%281%292007/1-14.pdf.
- Goncalves et al. (2016): Microencaosulation of Vitamin A. https://repositorio-aberto.up.pt/bitstream/10216/102860/2/141622.1.pdf.
- Khare et al. (eds, 2014): Microencapsulation in Food Industry: A Practical Implementation Guide https://www.elsevier.com/books/microencapsulation-in-the-food-industry/gaonkar/978-0-12-404568-2
- Li et al. (2014). Microencapsulation of Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutraceuticals for Food Applications. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124045682000388
- Trojanowska et al. (2017): Microencapsulation in Food Chemistry. http://www.msrjournal.com/article_23652_95ae321b29dc78deae5c0bd3d69a0afa.pdf
- Singh et al. (2010). Microencapsulation: A promising technique for controlled drug delivery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093624/
- Šimoliūnas et al. (2019): Bioavailability of Different Vitamin D Oral Supplements in Laboratory Animal Model. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6631968/. The article says that microencapsulation has the best bioavailability of vitamin D3 in a rat model.
- Maurya et al. (2020): Vitamin D microencapsulation and fortiﬁcation: Trends and technologies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960076019300585
Microencapsulation is a state-of-the-art technology in delivering a specific vitamin, mineral, or any other nutrient to the intended recipient. It increases the bioavailability of vitamins and product best by use date, while minimizing the waste and contributing to the environment. Although it is common in pharmaceutical (extended release being the widely known) and cosmetics industry, its generally a new concept when it comes to pet food industry. In the case of pet vitamins, Science4Pets is the first one to bring pet vitamins that are both non-China and microencapsulated.