VitaSperse Technology: Expanding Delivery Options for Fat-Soluble Antioxidants

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers seem to be taking a more proactive approach to health and wellness and we are continuing to see increased consumer interest in antioxidant ingredients, especially in how they benefit immune health.  

According to Market Research Future, “the global Natural Antioxidants Market size is projected to reach approximately 1.54 Billion by 2027 and is expected to register a CAGR of 5.70% during the forecast period, 2019-2027.”  Other notable ingredient sales, according to SPINS, included probiotic supplements ($883.3 million, -1.4%); CoQ10/ubiquinol ($246.7 million, +0.6%); turmeric ($136.1 million, -3.5%); lutein ($107.1 million, +2.4%); green teas/supplements ($33.5 million, -7.2%); and astaxanthin ($2.4 million). 


Antioxidant Ingredients Gaining Popularity  

Vitamins, such as Vitamins A, C and E remain the most popular with customers because of their familiarity and extensive research. However, other antioxidant ingredients, such as carotenoids and polyphenols are gaining in popularity.  

Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid that has been shown to be one of the most safe, powerful and versatile antioxidants.  Astaxanthin (ASX) became very popular in 2011 after it was introduced by Dr. Mercola on the Dr. Oz show as the “number one supplement you’ve never heard of that you should be taking.” Since then, ASX has been mainly supplemented by consumers as a powerful antioxidant to help support joint health, athletic endurance, energy, cardiovascular health, brain health, eye health, and beauty.* 

At Stratum, we continue to seek out ways to connect our science-backed ingredients with today’s latest trends. One way in doing so is by offering the branded astaxanthin ingredient, NatAxtin™. NatAxtin is produced by Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A., a Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) verified supplier, located in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Haematococcus pluvialis (H. pluvialis) algae are commonly used to produce astaxanthin (ASX) for dietary supplements. The green H. pluvialis algae produce red ASX as a natural shield against UV radiation. The Atacama Desert has the highest solar irradiation on the planet, causing the H. pluvialis algae to produce plenty of ASX for UV protection.  

The H. pluvialis are kept in above ground man-made “ponds” of water sourced from the Andes mountains. These “ponds” are also known as a “raceway” configuration. The “raceways” are open to the elements, but the Atacama Desert is a remarkably clean environment, being so far removed from urban and agricultural zones. Any risk of contamination is extremely low.  

After exposure to the desert sun generates enough ASX, the algae are dried and milled. NatAxtin ASX is extracted from the dried algal cells via supercritical CO2 extraction. Supercritical CO2 extraction is a green method of extraction that achieves a highly concentrated end-product. (1) No environmentally unsafe solvents are used, the CO2 is fully recyclable, and the process uses less energy than other methods. The majority of ASX in the dietary supplement market is extracted via supercritical CO2 extraction. 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the third most consumed nutritional supplement behind fish oil and multivitamins, is produced by the body (endogenous) and plays a critical role in self-protection against oxidative stress. (2)  

It also regenerates other “used up” antioxidants (vitamin E and vitamin C), restoring their antioxidant activity in the body.  With age, CoQ10 levels decline naturally, accompanying the age-related decline in energy metabolism observed in liver, heart, and muscle tissue. (3) Use of certain statin medications can also reduce body CoQ10 levels. (4)  CoQ10 remains a popular antioxidant supplement because of its recognized benefits in the body and the multiple factors that can reduce its optimal functioning.* 


Synthetic Antioxidants & Their Usage 

Synthetic antioxidants have been used in place of natural ones, mainly because they present higher stability and performance, low costs and wide availability (5, 6). The most referenced synthetic antioxidants in the food industry are butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate (PG) and tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ). In addition, 2-naphthol (2NL), 4-phenylphenol (OPP) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-DA) are the ones commonly used in fruits and vegetables. (6) Synthetic antioxidants are usually added as preservatives while synthetic astaxanthin and beta carotene are used as colorants to make farm-raised salmon look more pink. 

Although synthetic antioxidants have been widely used, safety issues have been raised over time. There are several published studies indicating a relationship between the long-term intake of synthetic antioxidants and some health issues, such as skin allergies, gastrointestinal tract problems and in some cases increased the risk of cancer. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) High doses of synthetic antioxidants may cause DNA damage and induce premature senescence. (12)  

The tendency to replace these antioxidants with natural ones has been increasing. Mostly, this is due to consumers concerned about being exposed to synthetic compounds in their daily diet. They have a stronger preference for natural ones. In addition, the use of natural antioxidants enables manufacturers to satisfy the demands of consumers for cleaner-label products with exclusive natural ingredients.  

Most of the natural antioxidants are derived from plant materials, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. (13, 14, 15) For manufacturers, the challenge of remaining true to the quality of natural extracts and their antioxidant power depends not only on the quality of the original source, but also on the technologies applied for their extraction. There is not one standard procedure for performing the extraction of all-natural antioxidants, since each compound has its own chemical and physical properties, and they are present in quite different forms. 


Consider a Unique Delivery Format

Antioxidants are compounds of many different chemical structures and are classified into two broad divisions, depending on whether they are water-soluble or fat-soluble. One way we are helping manufacturers overcome the challenges faced when formulating with water-insoluble ingredients is with our latest technology, VitaSperse. VitaSperse is a unique microemulsion technology that gets water-insoluble ingredients dispersed into water-based liquid applications.

The benefits of antioxidant supplements can often be limited by several factors.  These ingredients are often prone to degradation, and they are poorly absorbed through the intestinal wall which limits their bioavailability. Our VitaSperse technology helps overcome these obstacles. This technology enables even dispersion of fat-soluble ingredients, such as CoQ10 or astaxanthin into water-based liquids.  VitaSperse combines two techniques proven to enhance absorption in the body: emulsification and micro-sized particles, yielding a microemulsion. This microemulsion helps improve stability of the antioxidant as well as enhance absorption through the intestinal wall. The use of the unique VitaSperse technology greatly expands the potential delivery formats for fat-soluble antioxidants to include liquid drops, ready-to-drink formulations, and cosmetic applications. 

All VitaSperse ingredients start with reverse osmosis water. Only food-grade ingredients are used to create VitaSperse formulations. Lecithins and non-ionic surfactants are the main building blocks of the VitaSperse microemulsion. Then, a preservative system is added, depending upon use and preference. VitaSperse encapsulates nutritional actives, providing a unique layer of protection. Then, the VitaSperse formulation undergoes a proprietary process that results in a uniform dispersion of actives encapsulated by lipids. This dispersion allows oil-soluble ingredients to stay suspended in water indefinitely. 


For more information on formulating your next product with VitaSperse technology, contact us here.   



1. Regnier P., Bastias J, Rodriguez-Ruiz V, et al. Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis Prevents Oxidative Stress on Human Endothelial Cells without Toxicity. Mar Drugs. 2015;13(5):2857-2874. Published 2015 May 7. doi:10.3390/md13052857. 

2. Arenas-Jal M, et al.  Coenzyme Q10 supplementation:  Efficacy, safety, and formulation challenges.  Comp Rev Food Sci Food Saf 2020 (19): 574-594.  

3. Hernándex-Camacho JD, et al.  Coenzyme Q10 supplementation in aging and disease. Frontiers in Physiology 2018 (9):44. 

4. Qu H, et al.  The effect of statin treatment on circulating coenzyme Q10 concentrations: an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Med Res 2018(23): 57.  

5. Hernándex-Camacho JD, et al.  Coenzyme Q10 supplementation in aging and disease. Frontiers in Physiology 2018 (9):44. 

6. Qu H, et al.  The effect of statin treatment on circulating coenzyme Q10 concentrations: an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Med Res 2018(23): 57.  

7. Jeong S.-H., Kim B.-Y., Kang H.-G., Ku H.-O., Cho J.-H. Effects of butylated hydroxyanisole on the development and functions of reproductive system in rats. Toxicology. 2005;208:49–62. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2004.11.014. 

8. Engin A.B., Bukan N., Kurukahvecioglu O., Memis L., Engin A. Effect of butylated hydroxytoluene (E321) pretreatment versus l-arginine on liver injury after sub-lethal dose of endotoxin administration. Environ. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 2011;32:457–464. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2011.08.014. 

9. Botterweck A., Verhagen H., Goldbohm R., Kleinjans J., Brandt P.V.D., Brandt P.V.D. Intake of butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene and stomach cancer risk: results from analyses in the Netherlands Cohort Study. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2000;38:599–605. doi: 10.1016/S0278-6915(00)00042-9. 

10. Randhawa S., Bahna S.L. Hypersensitivity reactions to food additives. Curr. Opin. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2009;9:278–283. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32832b2632. 

11. Bleve M., Ciurlia L., Erroi E., Lionetto G., Longo L., Rescio L., Schettino T., Vasapollo G., Lionetto M.G. An innovative method for the purification of anthocyanins from grape skin extracts by using liquid and sub-critical carbon dioxide. Sep. Purif. Technol. 2008;64:192–197. doi: 10.1016/j.seppur.2008.10.012. 

12. Kornienko J.S., Smirnova I.S., Pugovkina N.A., Ivanova J.S., Shilina M.A., Grinchuk T.M., Shatrova A.N., Aksenov N.D., Zenin V.V., Nikolsky N.N., et al. High doses of synthetic antioxidants induce premature senescence in cultivated mesenchymal stem cells. Sci. Rep. 2019;9:1296. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37972-y. 

13. Bansal S., Choudhary S., Sharma M., Kumar S.S., Lohan S., Bhardwaj V., Syan N., Jyoti S. Tea: A native source of antimicrobial agents. Food Res. Int. 2013;53:568–584. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2013.01.032. 

14. Dimitrios B. Sources of natural phenolic antioxidants. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2006;17:505–512. doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2006.04.004. 

15. Jiang J., Xiong Y.L. Natural antioxidants as food and feed additives to promote health benefits and quality of meat products: A review. Meat Sci. 2016;120:107–117. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2016.04.005. 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.