TIME Diet/Nutrition

Nestlé Is Developing an Instant-Nutrient Food Machine

The 'Iron Man' device could work like Nespresso

Pretty soon, treating your Vitamin D deficiency could be as simple as firing up your espresso machine. Or so Nestlé hopes.

The research arm of the Swiss food and beverage company, Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS), is hard at work on a program called “Iron Man” that aims to measure nutritional deficiencies in group’s or individual’s diets and produce tailor-made remedies. These might take the form of powder similar to instant coffee capsules, like those used in Nestlé’s popular Nespresso machines. Running low on zinc? Press a few buttons for the cure, and you might get to slurp it down with a double latte.

The exact form and function of the machine is yet to be determined, NIHS director Ed Baetge tells Bloomberg, and will take years to develop. A huge obstacle is in getting consumers information about their complete nutrition profile to assess which nutrients they’re lacking; at present, such tests run into the hundreds of dollars. Nestlé wants to bring that cost way down into an affordable range.

The current limit in regulation around supplements might help such a product get to market without much fuss. But there’s been significant questioning in the scientific community as to the value of such supplements—how much do they really help, and are supplements an efficient way of delivering nutrients when compared with food? And could these supplements actually hurt us?

Without hard facts, it’s hard to know whether “Iron Man” would truly help consumers or simply spark another fad diet. By the time it’s ready for the market, perhaps research will show whether such a quick-fix is the cure for all maladies or part of the problem.

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