The process of fermentation varies for different fermented foods. Fermentation processes of vegetables, including dill pickles and sauerkraut, can be conducted by dry salting or brining, whereas products such as yogurt and kombucha require the addition of starter culture to the food materials. However, our D-licious fermentation starter can be added to both kinds of fermentation food to increase the growth of certain target bacteria (Downshiftology, 2019).
Fermentation starters are bases used during the commercial production of some fermented foods to ensure the consistency in properties of the products, including the acidity and aroma. The microbial cultures consist of specific cultivation media and a specific mix of essential microorganisms that would be inoculated to perform the fermenting process (Starter Culture - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, 2017). The fermentation starters of our products would be in the form of powder. The manufacture of them starts with heat treatment of the medium, in which the original microorganisms and the dissolved oxygen are eliminated. The specific bacteria culture is then inoculated to the heated-treated media cooled down to a suitable temperature for bacteria growth. During incubation, the bacteria multiply and perform the process of fermentation until the starter culture is cooled down to inhibit further growth, which helps maintain the high activity of the bacteria. Finally, with methods such as freezing, the starters are preserved for storage (CULTURES AND STARTER MANUFACTURE, 2019).
Several tools are included in the D-Licious fermentation kit to assist fermentation processes at home, including fermentation jars, a pounding tool/tamper, waterless airlock tops, glass, weights, and recipes. The fermentation jars provide containers of food materials in which the probiotics in the starter perform the fermentation process. The pounding tool helps to crush large food materials such as cucumbers into smaller pieces. The airlock, which should be attached to the glass and the lid, maintains an anaerobic atmosphere for fermentation, preventing the air from entering the jars while allowing the release of CO2 generated during fermentation. The weights help hold the food in place during the fermentation process. To suit the preference of each user, we also include the details of the steps for making each specific fermented food (yogurt, pickles, and kimchi) in the recipes.
Taiwanese Local Target Users
Global General Target Users
An urban primary care clinical study measured the prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency among 365 healthy infants and toddlers, the results were shocking. Out of all participants, 52.1% were shown to have levels of vitamin D below the accepted optimal threshold (Gordon et al., 2008). From this, we see that newborn babies to toddlers up to 3 years of age are all high-risk groups for vitamin D deficiency. Although breast milk provides a blend of vitamins, proteins, and fat, the amount of vitamin D in breast milk is far less than the minimum required for a healthy infant (Breastmilk information, 2021). Also, the nutrition of breast milk depends on the mother’s condition, therefore vitamin D levels in the milk of deficient individuals are further reduced. The infant or toddler, therefore, requires to intake extra amounts of vitamin D from other food sources which generally have minimal levels of vitamin D compared to supplements or sunlight (CDC, 2019). Vitamin D limitations in food sources as well as infants’ lack of sunlight exposure all contribute to their development of rickets, muscle weakness, and fractures (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2021). Considering how deficient amounts of vitamin D hinder infants and toddlers’ motor development and put them at risk of vitamin D related diseases, we decided to target infants from 6 months (can start yogurt intake in small quantities) up to toddlers of 3 years old (Can Babies Have Yogurt: Answers for Parents, 2018).
According to a study in Singapore, out of 134 subjects ( ≥ 65 years old), 115 patients (85.6%) presented low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHD3) levels. Another clinical report has also shown that out of 217 consecutively geriatric hospitalized patients, approximately 96% of all have serum 25(OH)D below the optimal concentrations of ≥30 ng/ml (Boettger et al., 2018). Risk factors for the elderlys’ vitamin D deficiency issues include decreased VDR expression, decreased vitamin D production in the skin, decreased kidney function for 1,25(OH)2D production, and several others. In older individuals, aging results in lower vitamin D production in the human skin due to the decrease in 7-DHC which further slows down the response to UVB rays when exposed to sunlight. When a person ages, renal functions decline as well, leading to decreased activity of renal enzymes, such as 1α hydroxylase that converts 25OHD into 1,25(OH)2D. Moreover, ones with age ≥80 often have glomerular function rates (GFR) under 50 mL/min, highly lowering the production of 1,25(OH)2D levels. While these all have major contributions to relationships between aging and vitamin D deficiency, substrate deficiency also plays a significant role in vitamin D deficiency in seniors. This type of deficiency is caused by the diet or lack of sunlight exposure, decreasing 25(OH)D that limits 1,25(OH)2D production (Gallagher, 2013). Due to all factors above, seniors are especially at risk with vitamin D deficiency, and can therefore be listed as one of the main target users for our engineered fermentation starter.
Individuals with Darker Skin
Skin color has high biological significance and is associated with the regulation of Vitamin D in human bodies. Individuals with darker skin have higher risks of vitamin D deficiency as well. According to the Division of Health Equities at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, about 70% of African Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiency, causing them to be more vulnerable to cancer and cardiovascular diseases than people with lighter skin tone. The pigmentation causing the darker skin tone is a natural barrier against the UV light penetrating through the skin. Specifically, the large amounts of melanin, which is responsible for the tanning of the skin, in the epidermal layer undermine the skin’s ability to absorb sunlight and produce vitamin D. Furthermore, scientists also found that three regions of genes in African Americans that associate with the regulation of skin pigmentation also has a strong connection to vitamin D deficiency, therefore leading to the requirement of more intense sunlight exposure to synthesize sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. As a result, Individuals with darker skin tone are the potential target users for our products.
Obesity, a chronic health condition, has displayed strong bonds with vitamin D deficiency. Recent reports revealed prevalence rates of vitamin D deficiency in the obese population of up to 90% (UC Health). Studies have revealed that increasing BMI and body fat is associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations, high PTH (parathyroid hormone) concentrations, and low 1,25(OH)2D levels (Vanlint, 2013). Reasons for connections between vitamin D deficiency and obesity may be due to obese individual’s lower participation in outdoor activities, leading to minimal sunlight exposure. Other scientific theories also suggest how obese subjects experienced lower increases in plasma levels of 25(OH)D after oral supplementation or exposure to UVB rays because of vitamin D distributing into excessive amounts of adipose tissues (AT) which are responsible for accumulating and retaining fat-soluble vitamins. Furthermore, several also pointed out possible correlations of impaired hepatic 25-hydroxylation with lower 25(OH)D concentrations. As one common chronic liver disease in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been found to be responsible for causing liver cirrhosis, causing the damage, inflammation, or necrosis in the liver which may also contribute to low 25(OH)D. While the reasons for associations between obesity and vitamin D remain unclear, there is no doubt about a cause-effect relationship between the two (Vranić et al., 2019).
Public Acceptance & Safety
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Implementation In Real World
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- Yu, L., Ke, H.-J., Che, D., Luo, S.-L., Guo, Y., & Wu, J.-L. (2020). Effect of Pandemic-Related Confinement on Vitamin D Status Among Children Aged 0–6 Years in Guangzhou, China: A Cross-Sectional Study. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 13, 2669–2675. https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S282495