Early childhood years are crucial for a child’s growth and development in all aspects of life. Whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, one can see child’s progress with every little developmental milestone they achieves.
Adequate nutrition is essential for growth and development during a child’s formative years which sets the foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. During infancy, nutrient requirements per pound of body weight are comparatively higher than at any other time in the life cycle. Optimum nutrition is very crucial for a child from conception till 2 years of his/her birth.
Therefore, high-quality solutions are required in infant nutrition products to ensure providing adequate nutrients required during the initial years of development.
Micronutrient premixes like Vitamin Blends (A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and K) and Mineral blends (Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Phosphorous, Chromium, Iodine, Selenium, etc.) are often used in various infant formulas. In maximum cases micronutrient premixes are blended and formulated in the form of powder which is easy to dissolve in milk or any other fluid.
But unfortunately vitamins, minerals and other nutritive ingredients added often impart unpleasant smell/odour and taste. With precise microencapsulation technologies such sensory attributes can be masked. It also helps mitigate nutrient loss during processing and lets processors create foods with added value.
Encapsulation involves the incorporation of added ingredients, enzymes, cells or other materials into small capsules for delivery of the contents at the appropriate time. By creating a barrier between reactive components, encapsulation protects oxygen-sensitive flavour and colour compounds during processing and storage so that consumer can enjoy the results at a later time and for a longer time.
Encapsulation protects nutrients such as iron and vitamin C through processing and storage until the foods are finally consumed. Microencapsulation often inhibits the action of nutrient-nutrient interaction, resulting production of undesirable sensory changes.
For a child, development of food preferences begins at conception and continues throughout the life. Taste and flavour perception are central to the development of food preferences, as both taste and flavour have been highlighted as primary drivers of food acceptance during early life. Taste sensations result from activation of the gustatory system of the central nervous system and are limited to the sensations of sweet, bitter, sour or salty.
Additionally, food preferences driven by taste of the ingredients are the strongest predictors of young children’s food acceptance.
Thus it is very important for infant food manufacturer to focus on both nutritive value of formula as well as its taste. Hence, Microencapsulation technology is a boon for infant food formulation.