The company said that this was an innovation already in the pipeline, but that it was expedited due to current pandemic.
Targeted at children between the age of four and 12, the product contains a number of key bioactives, ranging from probiotics from the lactobacillus and bifidobacterial strains to blackcurrant and beta-glucan from both yeast and fungi sources.
Of special note is the fungi-derived beta-glucan, which is an ingredient formulated by the company itself.
Known as Mushroom Guard, six types of mushrooms are used in the formula.
They are namely Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes), Maitake (Grifolafrondosa), White jelly fungus (Tremella fuciformis), Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), and Royal sun agaricus (Aspergillus brasiliensis).
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, R&D director at Avida Health, Dr Wang Guan, said that the mushrooms were standardised to a composition of 45% polysaccharides, out of which, 35% is beta-glucan.
As an immune-modulator, beta-glucan is known for its benefits to the immune system. Besides beta-glucan, there are other immune-modulators present in the six mushrooms used. This is to provide a synergistic effect to strengthen the immune system.
“There are receptors on the cell surfaces which can identify and bind to the beta-glucan and polysaccharides. This process in turn stimulates the macrophage [immune effector cell], leading to the release of cytokine and chemokine.
“This in turn stimulates the macrophage to ingest harmful microorganisms that have entered the body from the outside environment,” Dr Wang explained.
By introducing beta-glucan and polysaccharides repeatedly, the macrophages are repeatedly activated, therefore strengthening the immune system.
To preserve the nutrients in the mushrooms, the company has used water and ethanol as the extraction solvent.
As the ingredient comes in powder form, it can be used in a variety of formats, such as sachet and beverages.
For the company, its decision to apply it in chocolates is to provide a more exciting option for children.
“This ingredient will be used to make a chocolate ball functional food for children above four and those in primary school. This will serve as an attractive option for the children as compared to the usual pills and capsules,” Dr Wang said.
The chocolate ball product will be manufactured in New Zealand, while the mushroom is organically grown with the ingredient premix being made in China.