New Plant-Based Gummy Vitamins Can Help Vegans and Vegetarians Get Their Essential Nutrients

A strawberry-flavored vegan gummy candy (approximately half an inch wide) made with plant-based ingredients is enriched in vitamins B12 and D3. Credit: Adapted from ACS Food Science & Technology 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acsfoodscitech.1c00271

Worldwide, millions of people follow vegan and vegetarian diets for religious, ethical, environmental, or economic reasons. While these diets have purported health benefits, they can also lack essential nutrients, such as vitamins B12 and D3, if not well-planned or supplemented correctly. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Food Science & Technology have packed a strawberry-flavored gummy with these vitamins, formulating it without any animal products so vegans and vegetarians can reach their recommended daily allowances (RDA).

Some essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, are found exclusively in animal products, while others can be obtained from other sources. For example, humans can make vitamin D3 when their skin is exposed to sunlight, but many people aren’t outside enough to meet the requirement for this vitamin. Therefore, it is primarily consumed through fish, eggs, and organ meats, which are not eaten by vegans and some vegetarians.

To avoid the pitfalls of vitamin deficiencies, people who adhere to plant-based diets often take supplements, but it’s been challenging to put both vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 in one pill because of their differing solubilities. One solution could be to put them into emulsion-filled gels, such as gummy candies. Previous researchers have shown that pectin, a plant-based polysaccharide, can be used as a gelling agent in animal product-free foods. So, Samantha Pinho and colleagues wanted to see if they could use only plant-based ingredients, such as pectin, to produce a gummy candy enriched with vitamins B12 and D3 that would be acceptable to consumers.

The researchers first made an emulsion, combining citrate buffer, inulin, gum arabic, flaxseed oil, and vitamin D3, and separately made the pectin gel, dissolving a type of pectin, calcium chloride and vitamin B12 in a citrate buffer. Then, by rapidly stirring the emulsion into the pectin gel with sugar, the team produced an emulsion-filled gel. The gel became a reddish gummy material after it dried.

To develop this into a suitable food product, the researchers added a natural strawberry flavor and molded the gel into half-inch-wide candies.

In sensory tests, 120 untrained panelists gave the gummies high scores for taste, color, aroma, and overall acceptability. About half of the panelists said they would buy the enriched gummy, with another 36% saying they might buy the product. The researchers say their results pave the way to make food products more nutritious.

Reference: “Emulsion-Filled Pectin Gels for Vehiculation of Vitamins D3 and B12: From Structuring to the Development of Enriched Vegan Gummy Candies” by Marluci Ghiraldi, Beatriz G. Franco, Izabel C. F. Moraes and Samantha C. Pinho, 20 October 2021, ACS Food Science & Technology.
DOI: 10.1021/acsfoodscitech.1c00271

The authors acknowledge funding from a Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES Foundation) fellowship and The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) fellowships.

American Chemical SocietyBiochemistryFood ScienceNutritionVitamins
Comments ( 4 )
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  • Ismael

    Why the f*** would we need that? We already have a wide range of supplements : FOOD !

    • Angela

      Vegans are only about 2% of the population. If people choose not to eat animal products, they still need vitamins. Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a right to exist. I’m sure if they hit the targeted audience correctly they’ll sell a lot.

  • elise

    B12 is not found exclusively in animals lol, what nonsense is this. It’s found in DIRT. The animals you eat are injected with b12 supplements 😂, and their feed has a huge list of vitamins and minerals added or supplemented into it, longer than ANY list of ingredients on even the most processed human food. That’s when they’re not feeding them literal plastic bags and other trash 😂. Keep pretending eating animals is healthy, keep pretending that you aren’t on supplements by proxy.

  • Leslie Byrd

    This is great for i have so many food allergies..beef, fish, corn, eggs & wheat..I have a tuff time so thank you!