Welcome! We just launched the new Life Science and Food Industry Podcasts. Available everywhere!


Two Up-And-Coming Digestive Health Ingredients: Aquamin and Activated Charcoal

Two Up-And-Coming Digestive Health Ingredients: Aquamin and Activated Charcoal

With gut health becoming a popular topic for consumers, the food industry is constantly looking for the latest in digestive health ingredients. Flavor Manufacturer FONA International recently released a research report on global digestive health products and has identified Aquamin and activated charcoal as the top two up-and-coming gut health ingredients.

According to the report, the US market for digestive products grew 12 percent between 2012 and 2017. As consumers are increasingly becoming interested in functional ingredients, the digestive health industry is expected to continue its growth in the next few years. With food companies looking to innovate their products in order to appeal to consumers, the recent findings from FONA international might help to give them an upper hand.

From their research, FONA finds Aquamin to have potential as the next unique superfood. Derived from the cytoskeleton of red seaweed, Aquamin, can help maintain a healthy digestive barrier in the stomach and prevent inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The ingredient contains calcium, magnesium and trace minerals. Aquamin can also be used to add calcium to products that don’t naturally have it.

Aquamin manufacturer Marigot Ltd. promotes their product as a suitable form of calcium for food manufacturers. They also say Aquamin has the ability to provide mineral nutrients without affecting the flavor, solubility, bioavailability, sensory properties and mouth feel of finished products. The Ireland-based company offers three Aquamin formulations for food and beverage products.

“Given the maturity of the market, suppliers are now focusing on finding more bioavailable forms of natural calcium. Companies and consumers are becoming aware that isolated calcium is not the best option; multi-mineral whole food supplements combined with other ingredients seem to be more in demand,” says the Aquamin website.

Activated charcoal is already a popular ingredient for health drinks. Known for its ability to detoxify the body and bind itself to toxins, activated charcoal is expected to have a major impact in the digestive health field. Although, experts at the University of Utah believes that this popular ingredient still needs to be examined.

“There really isn’t any reliable evidence to support these claims,” said Amberly Johnson, Poison Information Specialist with the Utah Poison Control Center. “Activated charcoal should only be given in healthcare facilities.”  

In 2012, Burger King launched an activated bamboo charcoal “kuro burger” in select locations in Japan. The burger had two charcoal infused buns sandwiching a slice of black cheese and a regular patty with black sauce made from squid ink. According to Adweek, these burgers were a huge hit with Japanese consumers and were the most purchased sandwiches at Burger King that year.

Food manufacturers already recognize the growth potential for functional foods and the digestive health category is not likely to slow its entry into the popular foods market. With ingredient innovations like Aquamin and activated charcoal being introduced, the food industry is likely to come out with new gut-healthy products.