Silica and Nutraceuticals
An aging population drives the growing market for nutraceuticals: as people live longer, they look for ways to maintain their quality of life, often by increasing their intake of nutrients such as fiber for digestive health and antioxidants to combat inflammation. Manufacturers of nutraceuticals look for ways to deliver high-quality compounds to these customers. Silica products from W. R. Grace & Co. are being tapped to improve the manufacturing process of nutraceuticals.
Improving on nature
Many nutraceutical compounds are extracted from their plant or animal of origin by a process based on solvents or carbon dioxide. The resulting extract contains impurities like plant pigments, heavy metals, pesticides, and assorted waxes and fats. The next step is to remove these impurities using silica products. This can lead to a finished nutraceutical product that is more consistent in appearance and purity, but only if manufacturers use the right type of silica. DAVISIL® silica gel can effectively lower levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury. DAVISIL® silica gel is also capable of removing undesirable pigments while retaining the terpene flavor compounds that are desired by customers.
The secret is in the silica
The key to this selectivity lies in the physical and chemical properties of the silica gel, including pore size, particle size, porosity, and surface functionality. Through extensive research, Grace has tailored these properties to create a range of about 2,000 silica products. Using the company’s silica gels, some nutraceutical manufacturers have developed protocols to successfully purify their products in a single step. The approach involves simply layering different types of optimized silica into a single column and removing a range of impurities in one fell swoop.
Silica products are also useful when formulating nutraceuticals into tablets or capsules. Many nutraceuticals occur as oils and suffer from low bioavailability when taken orally. Cannabidiol (CBD), for example, has about 20% bioavailability when dosed as an oil. But by using Grace's SYLOID® silica gel for formulation, manufacturers have experienced nearly double the bioavailability of their product. By absorbing the oil into the porous structure of tiny silica gel particles, they obtain a free-flowing powder, which can easily be made into tablets, capsules, powdered drink mixes, or even skin lotions.
From the first purification steps to formulation of the final product, GRACE® silica products make important contributions throughout the entire process of manufacturing nutraceuticals.