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How Are Your Supplements Dried?

by  Erin Stokes, ND

044e1e2This may sound like an odd question. Unless you are inquiring about whole food supplements, then asking about drying methods is a crucial question. The use of whole food supplements has increased significantly in the last decade. This is in large part due to the widespread recognition that phytonutrients, which are inherent in food, have valuable health benefits.  Although the positive health implications of whole food supplements are increasingly acknowledged, it is important to know that many of the components of whole foods that are associated with promoting health can be lost or significantly reduced depending on the type of drying method used in processing.

In order to retain the phytonutrients found in fresh whole foods such as oranges, blueberries, broccoli, cranberries, and carrots, it is vital to utilize a drying method that minimizes heat, air and high pressure. Spray drying is one method that is widely used in the supplement industry.Carrots 250x250

Spray drying relies on high pressure and high heat to force a liquid food suspension through a small valve or rotary disc into a chamber of hot flowing air. The high pressure and high heat degrade the nutritive value of the food. Another drying method, vacuum freeze drying, does not expose foods to high heat. However the crystallization that occurs in this process results in the degradation of important fat-soluble compounds such as carotenes.An alternative to spray drying and vacuum freeze drying is Refractance Window Drying™ (RWD), a patented technology for drying fresh foods. This technique relies on the unique properties of water as a vehicle to carry thermal energy into a food to reduce its moisture content. When compared to other methods, including spray drying, RWD retains the foods’ pleasing sensory qualities, such as color and aroma. It also preserves higher amounts of selected studied phytonutrients, such as carotenes, which are frequently degraded in other processing methods (Abonyi, et al 1999).

Dryer 250 x 250Preserving as much of the inherent phytonutrient quality and nutritional value as possible means the product can provide a superior nutritional benefit, which could play a role in filling in nutrient gaps that are so prevalent today. As a practitioner, knowing the drying method utilized by a supplement company may seem like a strange question. But knowing this information gives you the information needed to recommend whole food supplements to your patients. For more information go to



Evaluation of Energy Efficiency and Quality Retention for the Refractance Window ™ Drying System
Brendan I. Abonyi, Juming Tang, Ph.D, Charles G. Edwards, Ph.D
Department of Biological Systems Engineering Washington State University, Pullman, WA Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Washington State University, Pullman, WA

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information and any products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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