Many consumers are looking for dietary supplements to prevent vitamin D deficiencies and BENEO’s sweet-tasting filler-binder galenIQ is the excipient of choice. 

Vitamin D plays an important role in the body, particularly in terms of helping to maintain normal muscle function and the intestinal absorption of calcium, keeping our bones healthy, preventing osteoporosis and strengthening the immune system. It is also able to activate the innate and inhibit the adaptive immune systems with antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.

Vitamin D deficiency is known to increase the risk or severity of viral infections. For example, recent research has shown that supplementing people with a vitamin D deficiency reduces the likelihood of developing acute respiratory viral infections by 42% (1). In addition, it was found that patients with a vitamin D deficiency often have a longer, more severe disease course (2). Decreased levels of vitamin D can also contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression.

EFSA has defined an adequate intake of vitamin D to be 15 µg per day for healthy individuals older than one year of age (3). To build up the body’s vitamin D levels via the skin, short-term exposure to UVB rays in the middle of each day is recommended by scientific experts. However, during the Winter months, days are short, our skin is covered by warm clothes and the sun is not at its peak. As a result, the lack of direct sunlight causes vitamin D levels to decrease. In addition, owing to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, many people are staying at home and are not getting their daily dose of beneficial solar radiation.

Therefore, many consumers are looking for dietary supplements to prevent vitamin D deficiencies. As vitamin D supports the uptake of calcium in the gut, many nutritional supplements contain both calcium and vitamin D.

When it comes to producing vitamin D supplements in tablet form, BENEO’s sweet-tasting filler-binder galenIQ is the excipient of choice. This multi-functional excipient ensures both better compliance and more efficient production processes for tablet manufacturers.

A multifunctional excipient for vitamin D supplements

When developing vitamin D and calcium tablets, it is important that the bulk excipient in the formulation fulfils certain functions, such as providing excellent flowability, low hygroscopicity, physical stability during mixing, chemical inertness, a high content uniformity and that the end product tastes good. galenIQ 721 meets all of these requirements.

In fact, the agglomerate morphology of galenIQ 721 ensures that both a high concentration of calcium and a comparatively low amount of vitamin D can be evenly distributed within a powder mixture and that there is high content uniformity in the finished dosage form.

galenIQ is the pharmaceutical grade of isomalt, BENEO’s disaccharide alcohol, which is derived from beet sugar. The galenIQ range is available in a wide array of particle size distributions, morphologies and levels of solubility. There are specific grades for direct compression, wet granulation, roller compaction, hot melt extrusion, syrups and pan coating. This makes it a highly versatile excipient for oral solid and even liquid dosage forms.

As consumers have been increasingly reflecting on their health and lifestyles in recent times, the nutraceutical industry has experienced a surge in demand. For example, a survey from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) found that vitamins and minerals continue to be the most frequently mentioned supplement category, with nearly all supplement users reporting usage in the past year at 98% (4). Owing to its sweet taste and excellent technical properties, galenIQ is ideally suited for manufacturers of nutritional supplements containing vitamins and minerals in tablet or stickpack form, who are looking to make the most of this trend.

  1. Martineau, A.R.; Jolliffe, D.A.; Hooper, R.L.; Greenberg, L.; Aloia, J.F.; Bergman, P.; Dubnov-Raz, G.; Esposito, S.; Ganmaa, D.; Ginde, A.A.; et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ 2017, 356, i6583.
  2. Source: Pham, H.; Rahman, A.; Majidi, A.; Waterhouse, M.; Neale, R.E. Acute Respiratory Tract Infection and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3020.
  2. 4.


Interview with Dr Maj-Britt Cepok: The pandemic and supplements

Q1: How have consumers reacted to the pandemic in terms of their personal health?

What we’ve seen is that even healthy people are re-evaluating their lifestyles, resulting in a quite notable shift in mindset. In pre-COVID times, many consumers stated that by following a healthy diet, they didn’t need to support their health and wellbeing with supplements. The coronavirus provoked a surge of interest in taking a more proactive approach towards boosting their immune system with new habits and supplements, but the immune system wasn’t the only focus: supplements and solutions to improve mental wellbeing and stability were also sought after. The uncertainty that COVID raised, as well as the changes that occurred in our family and business lives, made many people look for a sense of normality and the ability to control as much of their lives as possible. Taking a positive approach to their health and establishing routines of fitness, mindfulness and relaxation provided that stability.

Another significant effect is the impact of long-COVID, the health complications of which can negatively affect people for weeks and months. It’s not proven, but we assume that people who want to recover quickly and fully from a COVID infection are also very open to help their bodies with supplements, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. What does this mean for the development of new supplements? Concepts that support a quick and full recovery from virus infections will be a great help for consumers.

Q2: As consumers want to make more positive health choices in the pandemic, what is important in terms of communication and marketing?

Taking a holistic approach, including good and clear communication, is key when it comes to helping consumers with their buying decisions – especially when they’re confronted with a vast array of promise-bearing solutions. We are convinced that science, credibility and transparency, as well as trustworthy marketing, are of utmost importance when it comes to maintaining consumer faith and enabling them to find the product that truly fits their demands.

Of course, it’s very tempting to make coronavirus-related claims that raise expectations, but what we need to do is to clarify that nutraceutical supplements and vitamins constitute one aspect of a comprehensive inner defence strategy. They aren’t, however, a miracle cure or offer full protection against corona viruses. On the contrary, we have to emphasise that no nutritional supplement can ever be an alternative to vaccinations or contact restrictions, hygiene and social distance rules. Plus, we need to make clear that no vitamin or nutrient can guarantee mild disease progression. The whole sector is obliged to be very clear and mindful in terms of communication to ensure that people don’t jump to the wrong conclusions.

Q3: Why do excipients such as galenIQ play an important role?

If we want to support people and help them to boost their immune system and their overall health with nutritional supplements, we need to take a closer look at the dosage forms we use. Are products easy to swallow, do they taste good, are they easy to take on the go and does every age group accept them? Speaking about medications, the good news is that most people only need to take them for a limited time. However, as with most nutraceutical supplements, they need to be taken for a longer duration to see any effects. Vitamin D supplements are important for all consumer groups and all life stages, irrespective of factors such as lifestyle. Vitamin D is one of the most commended nutritional supplements. With galenIQ as an excipient, we enable consumers to make their intake conveniently and pleasantly.

There are, of course, some consumer groups that warrant a closer look; children and the elderly often have difficulties swallowing large capsules or tablets. To create suitable dosage forms, we not only need to fine-tune the formulation and the active ingredients, we also need to ensure that the products are convenient to use on a daily basis. Here, galenIQ allows for the production of easy-to-administer delivery forms and not just for vitamin D supplmentents. galenIQ greatly benefits the production of fast-disintegrating tablets and minitablets, effervescents, chewables, tooth-friendly lozenges or syrups that provide a mild sweet taste that particularly appeals to children.