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BIRMINGHAM, UK: Colgate has partnered with Nourished, a company specialising in 3D-printed dietary supplements, to offer Nutristacks, a made-to-order subscription vitamin supplement service for enhancing oral and physical health. Available for purchase so far only in the UK, Nutristacks come in a form seemingly unique to the nutritional supplement market, having visible layers of individual vitamin material stacked by a 3D printer into a single vegan, sugar-free gummy.
Nourished developers used technology from 3D food and sweets printing to create the niche 3D-printed vitamin service. Before purchasing a Nutristacks 28-day supply, customers are advised to complete a consultation questionnaire which has basic questions about age, gender, health goals, current dietary requirements and amount of fruit and vegetables versus processed food currently consumed. In addition, customers are asked to choose from a short list to indicate their current general health and oral health complaints. The system then offers one of the Nutristack product options—Energy, Focus, Zen, Glow, or Immunity Nutristacks.
The oral health selling points of the 3D-printed gummy are the layers of key ingredients—arginine, xylitol, and calcium—that are touted as high-impact and quickly absorbed if the gummies are chewed for 60 seconds. The gummies are fortified with additional supplements depending on the pre-selected health issues from the questionnaire.
Colgate states that the arginine layer of the gummy will diffuse around teeth to activate healthy bacteria and improve the body’s defences against dental caries. The arginine is also meant to offer added protection to keep oral biofilm at a healthy pH level. A too significant drop in pH levels could result in periodontal disease, dental caries and halitosis. The xylitol layer will allegedly reduce the acid production of oral bacteria, thus strengthening enamel. The companies claim the xylitol should increase saliva production to further aid oral health. The layer of calcium is intended to further improve pH and overall tooth health.
Admittedly, the team up of Colgate and Nourished is intriguing. In 2020, Martyn Catchpole, Nourished chief technology officer, explained that the 3D printing of vitamin supplements takes the industry beyond simply “picking a bunch of separate tablets and packing them together, which isn’t really convenient, sustainable or even really bespoke”. Nourished said that because Nutristacks are made to order, they are an improvement over traditional vitamin supplements, which can suffer in quality owing to long supply chains. In some cases, the supplements only reach the customer two years after production.
Discussing the 3D-printing set-up for the new product, Catchpole explained: “The machine was designed to fulfil the need we had—to allow for true customisation but build and create the stacks in an efficient way that wouldn’t take a great deal of time. I considered many possibilities, but the prototype was deemed the most efficient when considering that 28 identical stacks were needed each time.”
Nourished claims that choosing to use a customised 3D-printing set-up meant that it could develop a vitamin supplement delivery system that is superior to taking a standard tablet. Nutristacks are more costly than traditional vitamin supplements, at £28 (€33.50) per month, but both companies believe that the enhanced 3D-printed delivery system of encapsulating the ingredients into a hydrocolloid gel is well worth the price, as it is digested like other food.
More information about Nutristacks can be found here.