Plant-based calcium and mineral complex offers digestive health potential

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Aquamin is derived from seaweed harvested off the coast of Iceland. Picture: Marigot
Aquamin is derived from seaweed harvested off the coast of Iceland. Picture: Marigot
Red seaweed-derived calcium complex Aquamin is best-known for bone health benefits, but could also emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the digestive health ingredients market, predicts Cork-based brand owner Marigot.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA for our digestive health special edition, Marigot commercial manager David O’Leary acknowledged that most consumers – and food formulators – still think of calcium in relation to bone health. However, recent research​ suggested that the minerals in Aquamin​ (which contains a combination of calcium, magnesium and scores of trace minerals) could also help to tackle chronic inflammation in the gut, he said.

We’ve been looking a primary markers of inflammation and found that Aquamin has anti-inflammatory properties which make for a unique point of difference beyond standard calcium. Multiple investigations over the years have shown it could improve the symptoms of colitis​, reduce inflammation in the GI tract, reduce polyp formation in animals fed a high fat western diet​, and overall contribute to the general maintenance of ahealthier stomach wall.”

While the status of the science behind Aquamin in relation to digestive health might be described as emerging (the studies are animal studies and in vitro studies using human cells​ rather than human clinical trials) it is a promising area of research, he said.

It’s a relatively new area of research for us, but I hope that in the years ahead we have enough evidence to make health claims for Aquamin in digestive health and joint health​ [as well as bone health]. As and when the science grows, it’s going to become more and more relevant to our customers.”

aquamin-landscape

Harvested from seaweed off the coast of Iceland, Aquamin is a multimineral complex containing calcium, magnesium and 72 other trace marine minerals absorbed from the surrounding seawater. It can be used in foods, beverages and dietary supplements. 

Plant-based nutrition, clean labels

Right now, Aquamin’s plant-based, vegan, clean-label, status is helping to drive sales in the US market, where the product can be labeled as ‘seaweed-derived calcium,’ ‘natural calcium source’ or by its Latin name. Other sources of calcium – for example calcium carbonate (from limestone rock), or synthetic calcium salts such as lactates, citrates and gluconates - are less label-friendly, claimed O’Leary.

“Seaweed is particularly on trend right now, as are plant-based nutrition and clean and clear labels, so this is more appealing than calcium carbonate; we’re offering a natural mineral source of calcium magnesium and trace minerals.”

Aquamin also has a more appealing taste and texture than alternative calcium sources, claimed O’Leary, who said Marigot was now looking to optimize different versions of the ingredient for more specific food products, within gluten-free bakery, ready-to-drink beverages, and confectionery (there are already a variety of different grades for different application areas)​.

“It’s very different to other calcium sources from an organoleptic standpoint and you don’t get the sedimentation, solubility issues and astringency and dryness. Aquamin has a unique porous, honeycomb-like structure so is complete dissimilar from other sources of calcium.”

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