Vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients, are necessary for disease prevention and good health, and 26 of them are essential for humans to include in their diets to, at least, minimum levels. We’ve designed the Huel formula so it contains at least the recommended daily amount (RDA), or nutrient reference value (NRV), of every vitamin and mineral required in the human diet at a 2,000-calorie intake of Huel.
Over half the vitamins and minerals in Huel are naturally occurring from the food ingredients. The remainder have been added as part of a bespoke micronutrient blend, designed to reach the appropriate NRV of each micronutrient or, in some cases, we’ve added more where we feel a higher intake of a particular micronutrient is beneficial for optimum nutrition and disease prevention. The micronutrient blend also contains some phytonutrients – substances found in plant foods which, while not essential, may exhibit some health benefits like disease prevention.
Some micronutrients interact with other constituents in food. In some cases the actual amount absorbed can be reduced by these anti-nutrients. To make sure you’re actually absorbing sufficient amounts of every micronutrient to provide your body with what it needs, we’ve added more of some nutrients to compensate for this.
How Much of Each Micronutrient in Huel is Natural?
The following table shows percentages of each micronutrient and the main phytonutrients in Huel provided by the food ingredients compared to what we’ve added from our bespoke micronutrient blend. In addition, the table shows the approximate total percentage of each micro- and phytonutrient in Huel that’s from natural sources (figures based on Huel European v2.3).
|Micronutrient||% from food ingredients||% from VM blend||% natural|
About the Vitamin Sources in Huel
Vitamin A – Almost all of the vitamin A in Huel is added in the natural form of retinol acetate, which has equally good bioavailability as any other supplementary form of vitamin A.
Vitamin D – The vitamin D in Huel is present in two active forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Ergocalciferol is naturally produced from the fermentation of plant sources. The cholecalciferol we use in Huel is plant-derived form lichens and is vegan-certified (most sources of vitamin D3 are animal sourced). Vitamin D3 is the more bioavailable form, but the action of both D2 and D3 once absorbed is efficient. The amount of vitamin D in Huel is 300% of the NRV to ensure there’s plenty of this vital nutrient.
Vitamin E – Some of the vitamin E in Huel is naturally occurring from the food ingredients and we’ve added the bulk of the extra in the form of D-alpha tocopheryl acetate; this is a natural form of supplementary vitamin E derived from vegetable oil. D-alpha-tocopherol acetate is the most bioavailable form of alpha-tocopherol, meaning it’s the type that it is better absorbed and utilised than other forms (1,2).
Vitamin K – Huel contains both vitamin K1 and K2. The NRV is met by vitamin K1 alone but, as vitamin K2 has other health benefits - it’s an anti-inflammatory and helps with bone health, - we’ve included this as an additional ingredient. About 12% of the K1 is from the main ingredients; the remainder is added in our micronutrient blend and is synthetically produced from plant sources. Vitamin K2 is naturally produced from bacteria and refers to several variants of the vitamin. MK-7 is the most biologically effective form (due to its stability (3)) and is the form we’ve used in Huel.
Vitamin C – The ascorbic acid – the name for vitamin C – is synthetically produced in Huel’s vitamin mineral blend. We feel the NRV for vitamin C is too low and that there are health advantages to having higher amounts, as well as the fact that it helps promote iron bioavailability, which is why we’ve included it in a high amount.
Thiamin – All the thiamin in Huel is naturally occurring from the oats and flaxseed.
Riboflavin – Some of the riboflavin comes from the oats and flaxseed ingredients, and the remainder is the same type of riboflavin you get in most vitamin supplements.
Niacin – Some of the niacin in Huel is from our natural ingredients, but a bulk is added in the form of niacinamide, a synthetic form approved for food fortification.
Vitamin B6 – About one-third of the B6 in Huel is from the oats and flaxseed, the remainder is added in the form of pyridoxine hydrochloride which is a synthetically made, approved form.
Folate – The folate source in Huel is natural L-methylfolate calcium which has a higher bioavailability than the more common supplementary form, folic acid.
Vitamin B12 – As vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products and Huel is vegan, all the B12 in Huel is added in our micronutrient blend in the form of cyanocobalamin. Although this form is artificial, other forms are either not as well absorbed by the body or are not stable in food products over shelf-life, so nutritionally cyanocobalamin is the superior form of B12.
Biotin – Over half of the biotin is from the main ingredients and the rest is D-biotin added as part of the micronutrient blend.
Pantothenic acid – Some of the pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, in Huel comes from the natural ingredients; the rest is added in the supplementary form of calcium-D-pantothenate.
Choline – Although choline is a non-essential B vitamin, and hence has no minimum recommended daily intake, we feel that it has health benefits at levels higher than the amount present from our food ingredients. We've therefore included additional amounts in Huel’s vitamin mineral blend in the synthetic form L-choline bitartrate which has a high absorption rate and is the preferred form approved for food fortification.
Mineral & Trace Element Sources in Huel
Sodium – 99% of the sodium in Huel is provided from the food ingredients. There is a tiny amount in our micronutrient blend which is there to help the stability of some of the other minerals.
Potassium & Chloride – 40% of the potassium in Huel is provided by the food ingredients. The remainder is added as part of the micronutrient blend in the forms potassium chloride and potassium iodide. Potassium chloride is non-synthetic and also provides all the chloride in Huel, only a release agent in this ingredient is synthetic (less than 1%).
Calcium – The amount of calcium we’ve included in Huel is higher than the EU NRV as we feel the minimum requirements for many people should be nearer 1,000 mg per day. Around 64% of the calcium in Huel is from the main ingredients and the rest is added in the form of calcium carbonate.
Phosphorus – The phosphorus in Huel is all natural provided by the oats, pea protein and flaxseed powder.
Magnesium – Oats, flaxseeds and brown rice protein are all rich in magnesium meaning that no additional magnesium needs to be added.
Iron – Huel needs a high iron content as the phytate from the oats as well as the high calcium content of Huel can reduce the amount of iron that’s absorbed. As the pea protein, brown rice protein, oats and flaxseed are all rich in iron, there is a large amount of non-haem iron in Huel naturally, ensuring that adequate amounts are absorbed. The additional vitamin C also helps to promote iron absorption.
Zinc – The zinc in Huel is all naturally occurring from the oats, pea protein and flaxseeds.
Copper – The copper in Huel is naturally occurring from the oats and flaxseed ingredients.
Manganese – There is a high level of manganese in Huel, and it’s all naturally occurring mainly from the oats (which are very manganese-rich) and flaxseeds. Although the level of manganese is high, this is not of concern as you can read here.
Selenium – All the selenium in Huel is naturally occuring from the main ingredients.
Chromium – The chromium in Huel has been added in the form of chromium (III) chloride.
Molybdenum – All the molybdenum in Huel is naturally occuring from the main ingredients.
Iodine – The iodine in Huel is added as potassium iodide which is synthetically produced.
Phytonutrients in Huel
Avenanthramides – These are antioxidant polyphenolic compounds uniquely found in oats and, as oats are the largest ingredient in Huel, there are high levels of avenanthramides in Huel.
Ferulic acid – This antioxidant in Huel is provided from the oats and flaxseeds.
Lignans – These are present in the flaxseeds and have been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (4).
Tocols – These are natural antioxidents some of which have vitamin E activity and are abundant in Huel.
Lycopene – Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers (5). The lycopene in Huel is naturally obtained from tomatoes and maize and added as part of our micronutrient blend.
Lutein – Although not essential per se, there is concern that diets low in this phytonutrient may lead to macular degeneration of the eye in the elderly, as lutein is involved in eye pigment development (6,7). Lutein is also an interesting antioxidant. A small amount of lutein in Huel is present from the flaxseeds, and we've also added additional natural lutein extracted from the Mexican marigold plant.
Zeaxanthin – Zeaxanthin is another phytonutrient which is both an antioxidant and is involved in the prevention of macular degeneration (7). The zeaxanthin in Huel is provided as part of the addition of the natural lutein extract.
Huel vs Tablets
Many people include a vitamin or mineral supplement as part of their daily diet; over half of Americans consume supplements daily and many of these are multi-vitamins. Mostly these are taken once a day as a multivitamin and mineral formula. Multivitamin and mineral supplements vary in quality; in many, the form of the micronutrient may not actually be absorbed very well.
A lot of people who base their diets around convenience foods with poor nutritional value, feel that that they're OK if they have a vitamin and mineral supplement, and they assume that this provides what they’re missing out on. However, some of the forms may not be bioavailable, and they’re also depending on taking this once per day. Some micronutrients are also not stored very well. Consuming a balanced varied diet including whole foods, would typically mean eating three to four times per day, giving a steady influx of nutrition.
As Huel is consumed as one, two or more meals or spread through the day, this provides an advantage over multivitamin pills, giving a steady influx of micronutrients.
Huel vs Greens Powders
Also popular are greens powders that supplement companies claim to be extracted from vegetables or so-called super foods. The problem with these are that there is little or no information as to the amounts and which vegetables are used in the formula and which micronutrients these contain. Indeed, during the processing of the powders there may be significant losses of some vitamins and minerals. If you plan on using a greens powder, it would be worth checking with the manufacturer to provide information about what micronutrients are in the product and at what levels. As Huel is based on foods and topped up with a micronutrient blend, you know what you’re getting.
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