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Herbs for muscle building

The sports nutrition marketplace is on the climb, and it’s not just for the trained athletes anymore. In 2018, trends toward high-calorie-burning exercise among Americans had 4.8 million more people participating when compared to five years prior, according to the Physical Activity Council. People in this category reported doing high-calorie burning activities at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes. And although this still doesn’t meet the recommended rate of daily activity, people are more active than before.

In addition to more exercise, consumers are taking preventative and holistic measures for their health care. The 2018 Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements showed 75 percent of U.S. adults now take supplements, up 10 percent from the year before. And they’re spending more money; Americans spent US$43.2 billion on supplements in 2017,  increasing by $8 billion from 2012.

Consumers purchasing supplements also have healthier habits than those of non-supplement users. Adults taking supplements are more likely to exercise, visit a doctor regularly, try to eat a balanced diet, get a good night’s sleep and maintain a healthy weight, and are less likely to use tobacco.

However, with all this growth within the industry and the increase in physically active consumers, the sports nutrition sector grew just 4.4 percent in 2017, a significant drop from 2016, when growth was marked at 5.9 percent, according to Nutrition Business Journal. This could be due to a lack of innovation within the category.

Getting an edge on the competition

Protein products have flooded the muscle-building marketplace for years. In fact, they accounted for more than 80 percent of global sports nutrition sales in 2017, according to Euromonitor International. Despite this, the market for nonprotein options is still relatively small ($2.5 billion in 2017), leaving room for major growth.

Consumers incorporating natural supplementation into their everyday healthcare routines opens a door of possibilities for finished product brands. Specifically, brands may need to promote advancements within the nonprotein sports marketplace.

Take, for example, curcumin. This ingredient is well-known to the consumer for its ability to help manage oxidative stress and inflammation,1 and several studies showed branded curcumin (as Meriva®, from Indena2 and as Theracurmin, from Theravalues Corp.3,4) and commodity curcumin5,6 had the potential to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS occurs after unaccustomed exercise in both novice and experienced athletes. It is associated with muscle pain, decreased range of motion (ROM), muscle fiber disruption, altered joint kinematics, decreased strength and acute tissue damage, each of which contributes to an impairment in future athletic performance and/or predisposes individuals to injury.

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Bridging the fiber gap with better-for-you ingredients

The role of proper nutrition on overall health and well-being is well documented, leading more consumers to seek functional food and beverage products made with recognizable, functional ingredients that address specific dietary needs. Data from the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2018 Food & Health Survey found at least 80 percent of consumers rank vitamin D, fiber and whole grains as the top healthiest nutrients they look for when shopping for food.1

However, good intentions often fall by the wayside. Case in point: fiber. Americans consistently fall far below the recommended daily intake of 25 g of fiber, which is why the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) labeled it as a shortfall nutrient that poses a public health risk (along with vitamin D, calcium, potassium and iron for premenopausal women). 2

In the United States, the recommended dietary fiber intake is 14 g/1,000 kcal. For an average adult, this means a daily intake of 25 g for women or 38 g for men; however, most Americans only consume about half of the recommended intake (13.5 g and 18 g, respectively), according to the Calorie Control Council.

This “fiber gap” also was addressed in May 2016 when FDA released its updated Nutrition Facts label for packaged food and beverages sold in the United States to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The sweeping overhaul was the first in 20 years, and included FDA’s first evidence-based definition of “dietary fiber” and an increase of its daily reference value (DRV) from 25 g to 28 g. Food manufacturers must comply with the new labeling rules no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

Defining (and Redefining) Dietary Fiber

Prior to 2016, food and beverage manufacturers could declare synthetic or isolated fibers as dietary fiber on the label, even if they did not have a physiological effect beneficial to human health. The 2016 evidence-based definition allows naturally occurring fibers in fruit, vegetables and whole grains to be considered fiber, as well as seven other isolated (i.e., extracted from plant sources) or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (NDCs) or synthetic fibers—beta-glucan soluble fiber, psyllium husk, cellulose, guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose—that are well-recognized by the scientific community for their physiological benefits.

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Nootropics and sports nutrition for the weekend warrior

Nootropics are compounds that improve cognitive function, and in some cases, brain health. They have been gaining buzz lately, which is not surprising since we are all striving to work harder and achieve more, and sustained focus is required to maintain that high watermark. One group that exemplifies the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle is “weekend warriors.” These individuals—who are tough competitors both at work and at play—are familiar with sports nutrition to optimize their bodies, but now it is time to “focus” on their brains.

When considering how sports nutrition can affect the brain, it is important to start with the basics of hydration and fueling, which can affect a wide range of cognitive domains. These topics have been addressed in research1,2,3 while two other important cognitive areas stand out for weekend warriors: focus and reaction time.

For people who compete in all aspects of their life, laser-like focus is paramount. For example, many weekend warriors engage in CrossFit or other types of high-intensity interval training, which demand pushing past physical and mental limits. Not only do they want to finish those workouts, they want to achieve new PRs (personal records) and feel the rush from knowing they just crushed that workout. In those situations, fatigue can dramatically reduce focus, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are one nutrition solution. It has been suggested BCAAs may delay fatigue by reducing transport of tryptophan, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin that contributes to feeling tired.4 In a study of cyclists, the rate of perceived exertion and mental fatigue while cycling was significantly lower when they drank BCAAs vs. placebo.5 In soccer players, psychomotor performance was improved with BCAA consumption during intense interval training.6

Delaying exercise-induced fatigue is awesome, but weekend warriors do more than just exercise. They need optimal focus while at work and at play, which is where botanicals can play a role. Consumers who want to “hit a PR” at work, at home, at the gym or on the field (whatever “field” they choose to play on) must stay locked-in and on task wherever they are. Researchers demonstrate this by testing “sustained attention,” a cognitive domain we are all familiar with: sit down and do your work (or play with your kids) and don’t get distracted by your phone, calendar, Facebook or getting another cup of coffee. Studies have shown sustained attention can be improved by ingesting certain botanicals,7 allowing focus to be improved and maintained throughout a hectic day.

Another cognitive area to consider for weekend warriors is reaction time, or quick reflexes. Reaction time becomes important in a variety of popular, athletic contexts, such as mountain biking (to avoid major spills), HIIT (high-intensity interval) training or obstacle course racing (such as American Ninja Warrior)—just to name a few. Reaction time testing is generally done on a computer, which means full-body reflexes are not being captured, but only the contribution of the brain (and maybe a finger or two for keyboard tapping). Active choice reaction performance (ACRP) is more applicable to sports since it involves reaction time while moving the whole body. Certain botanicals have been shown to improve ACRP by testing people’s reflexes while moving their whole body.

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Collagen: An ingredient for the ages

To be “beautiful inside and out” is the ultimate compliment. Imagine a supplement that performs its healthy aging functions internally as effectively it does externally, supporting both fluid movement and glowing, resilient skin. These flexible feats are among the boasts of collagen, a word derived from kolla, or “glue” in Greek.

The collagen movement began across Asia, China and Japan, according to Lauren Clardy, vice president of branded ingredients, AIDP Inc. Specifically, she noted, type I and the beauty-from-within market started to gain traction in the 1980s. “At Expo West recently, collagen launches were still front and center in food, beverages, supplements and personal care,” she reported. “We will see more incorporated into functional foods and beverages as the market matures. Compare this to 2012 when there was little to no collagen at Supply Side West. Today, it is one of the hottest ingredients trending alongside turmeric, CBD [cannabidiol] and others.”

When cartilage supplements—specifically shark cartilage—were all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it soon came to light that its power mostly came from naturally occurring collagen. Of the 28 different kinds of collagen, the primary and “most medicinal” is collagen type II. Collagen in general comes from skin, bones and cartilage from fish and common livestock (bovine, porcine and chicken).

Collagen product innovation is in full force to satisfy an excited consumer base. Oliver Wolf, head of B2B global marketing at GELITA, said sports nutrition, beauty-from-within concepts and products that support healthy aging are the most promising application fields for collagen peptides. In their natural form, he explained, collagen peptides are odorless and taste-neutral, and do not react with other ingredients, making them suitable for a wide range of different applications—from dietary supplements to functional foods and beverages. They are soluble in cold water and have “perfect” flow properties for dust-free pouring and dosing, he said. And in powder form, the peptides can be mixed with other ingredients, as “they have excellent wetting and dissolution properties when stirred into liquids, even in high concentrations.”

Tony Federico, vice president of marketing for Natural Force, added, “Consumers are looking to collagen for its anti-aging properties (improves skin moisture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles), ability to support gut and joint health, and for its contribution to strong and healthy hair and nails.”

Heather Wilson, director of brand development and licensed esthetician for Insta Natural, agreed, noting more consumers are embracing and understanding collagen’s benefits. Beyond supporting bone and muscle health, she pointed out, consumers also know it holds great potential for beauty and skin health as well. “Other proteins, such as whey and pea protein, used to be the ‘go to’ proteins, but as soon as people realized that collagen has all these amazing benefits for skin, hair and joints, it became very popular,” she stated.

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Energy ingredients: The next generation of caffeine

Caffeine remains a wildly popular energizer in both the mainstream world and sports nutrition market. This purine alkaloid is known as an adenosine antagonist because it competes with fatigue-signaling for receptors in the central nervous system. This delays fatigue and triggers a stimulant effect that active consumers and athletes love, providing a perk to daily activities and a boost to exercise performance.

However, many consumers are increasingly concerned about the source of caffeine, especially after FDA warned about the use pure and synthetic caffeine—the agency’s concern was focused on bulk caffeine, for which it is difficult for consumers to accurately measure efficacious but safe dosages. This concern has created opportunity for natural and organic alternatives to caffeine, as well as other energy ingredients.

INSIDER talked to Brian Zapp, creative director, Applied Food Sciences Inc. (AFS), about “clean” energy alternatives, including consumer trends and ingredient innovation.

Brian Zapp: When it comes to clean energy, the full concept of “clean” goes beyond incorporating natural ingredients into a formula. It aligns more with demonstrating the transparency of the product as a whole. One of the basic premises behind the “clean label” trend is that consumers are skeptical about what manufacturers are putting in their products and for a category like energy, this is even more evident.

According to Mintel more than one quarter of energy drink consumers surveyed say that they drink fewer energy drinks because they don’t trust the artificial ingredients inside (Mintel 2015, survey based on 168 internet users aged 18+ who consume fewer energy drinks). By substituting artificial and unrecognizable ingredients with known sources, like coffee and tea, consumers can easily draw a connection of familiarity.

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Krill oil research shows benefits to athletes

Krill oil research shows benefits to athletes

Exercise takes many forms, varying from person to person. From dedicated athletes and bodybuilders to frequent and even infrequent gym goers, the sports nutrition market is on the move, rapidly changing to meet the needs of every type of active lifestyle. Personalized nutrition is not new; in fact, it’s a topic that continues to reign. The “one size fits all” approach is out. Consumers can choose from tailor-made products and programs that fit their needs and preferences, and that is true for the sports nutrition space.

Consumers (and athletes) are savvier when it comes to supplements, and they are becoming more educated on nutritional values, ingredient makeup and dosage rates. Companies that operate in the natural products space need to innovate regularly and offer invaluable and unique products. Standing out in the heavily saturated sports nutrition market is not easy. The sports nutrition market is competitive.

Omega-3s are essential for maintaining and supporting cardiovascular,1 brain,2 eye,3 and more,4 but they also provide health benefits for sports nutrition. Having optimal omega-3 levels (8 percent or higher as assessed by the Omega-3 Index method) is particularly important for athletes since they are already at higher risks for health issues due to their intense physical activity.5

Krill oil power

Omega-3 supplements are plentiful in today’s market, but krill oil, an increasingly popular option, is a unique omega-3. Krill oil is gentler on the stomach and doesn’t produce fishy burps like other omega-3 options.6 Combined with a better delivery method, the bio-efficiency and stability of krill oil supplements allow for smaller, easier to swallow pills with less daily dosage requirements.

Krill oil comes from the Southern Ocean and occupies a low level in the food chain. It is also minimally processed and doesn’t contain additives or preservatives.

From a health benefits standpoint, krill oil is an interesting omega-3 option because its fatty acids are largely bound to phospholipids, which are integral to the body’s cells and cell membranes. Phospholipids are structurally different than omega-3 triglycerides, which are found in fish and algal oils, and this difference is crucial because it dictates how eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are delivered in the body. Omega-3s that are carried by triglycerides require a conversion in the liver to enter the bloodstream, according to Dr. Anne Carol Goldberg, professor of medicine, Washington University in St. Louis. Krill oil’s omega-3s, on the other hand, enter the bloodstream directly by phospholipids, speeding their availability for use in the body.

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Antioxidant botanicals for joint support

Antioxidant botanicals for joint support

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 52 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis—that’s 23 percent of the entire adult population. The joint nutraceuticals glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid (HA) are agents that work well for joint support, but sometimes more intensive support is needed. Many herbs and botanical extracts have shown great promise in supporting joint health. Studies show a potent blend of these herbal extracts can provide tissue support benefits and relief from minor pain while supporting healthy joints and muscle tissue.

Botanicals can aid in the relief of muscular pain following intense exercise and provide antioxidants to help protect connective tissue from the damaging effect of free radicals. Devils claw extract, Boswellia serrata extract, turmeric root extract, bromelain, green tea, quercitin, grape seed extract, ginger and phellodendron have all been shown to exert a powerful influence for joint support.

Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals—compounds in the body that can damage cells, DNA and cause cell death.

Green tea contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause (Cell Biophys. 1989 Apr;14(2):175-85).

Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids, antioxidants that give many fruits, flowers and vegetables their color. In combination with other joint botanicals, it has been shown to impact muscle recovery and joint inflammation on tissues compromised by inflammation and its impact on muscle recovery (Nutr J. 2011 Sep 7;10:90. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-90).

Grape seed extract is one of the richest sources of antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins, that reduces the toxic effects of oxidative stress. Grape seed extract may be as much as 50 times more potent that vitamin E and 20 times more potent than vitamin C as an antioxidant (Int J Mol Sci. 2010;11(2):622-646).

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Curcumin: Still on the climb

Curcumin Still on the climb

According to SPINS, 2017 sales of turmeric were more than US$4.8 million in U.S. conventional multioutlet stores—a 31 percent year-over-year increase compared to 2016. Additionally, the global curcumin market is expected to reach $110.5 million by 2024, a 137 percent increase from 2016, based on Global Market Insights data. Curcumin continues to climb, though several factors have the potential to impact the success of curcumin products. Consider these key market dynamics affecting the curcumin market.

Popularity & potential. Curcumin is enjoying a nod of approval from consumers seeking its health benefits, namely its anti-inflammatory effects. Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) reported mainstream consumer interest in using nutritional supplements to treat inflammation is on the rise; 30 percent of U.S. consumers were very interested in a supplement to manage or prevent inflammation in the body in 2017 vs. 19 percent in 2009. The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin translate to several areas of health, with research supporting beneficial effects in cognition, mood and sports nutrition, furthering the reach of this powerful compound.

Ensuring efficacy & quality. Curcumin is challenged with poor bioavailability, which has led ingredient manufacturers and product developers to create solutions that ensure effective curcumin products. Though there are proprietary ingredients and formulation solutions—such as adding piperine to curcumin products—to address curcumin’s bioavailability issues, concern remains surrounding the efficacy of curcumin products. Some researchers, for example, question whether the supporting compounds in turmeric are necessary for curcumin bioavailability. Another challenge for curcumin is the threat of adulteration. The Botanical Adulteration Program reported curcumin has been adulterated with other Curcuma species, starches and dyes. More recently, the addition of undeclared synthetic curcumin or mixtures of synthetic curcuminoids to turmeric extracts has been reported.

Beyond supplements. Turmeric, from which the curcumin compound derives, is an increasingly popular ingredient in foods and beverages. However, food and beverage brands must use caution, as turmeric (and therefore curcumin) has only been approved by FDA as a food colorant and is not recognized for its medicinal properties. Therefore, turmeric should be listed as a coloring agent and not a functional ingredient, which seems like a bit of a grey area considering the many functional products using turmeric on the market.

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Fiber Revisited: Closing the Gap

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On May 27, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a definition of “dietary fiber” and created a pre-approval system for various isolated and synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (NDCs). For all food labeled on or after Jan. 1, 2020, the isolated or synthetic NDCs must be determined by FDA to have a physiological effect that is beneficial to human health before they can be counted as dietary fiber for nutrition labeling purposes.

Dietary fiber is now defined by FDA as “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units) determined by FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.”

This change has impacted product development in some significant ways.

According to Aouatef Bellamine, PhD, senior science manager, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition, Morristown, NJ, the new fiber definition means dietary supplement formulators and manufacturers will need to either adhere to this list of ingredients if they want to make a fiber claim, or petition for their fiber source to be added to the definition.

One company doing just that is Somerville, NJ-based Nexira, which along with representatives of the gum acacia industry, is conducting additional studies to strengthen the evidence supporting the beneficial effects of gum acacia on blood glucose attenuation and energy intake, noted Julie Impérato, marketing manager. After completion of the studies, Nexira is expected to submit a Citizen Petition to FDA in the spring of 2019 to request that gum acacia be recognized as a dietary fiber for nutrition labeling and claims on foods and beverages. “We are hopeful to receive a positive response from FDA by the summer of 2019,” said Ms. Impérato.

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CBD concentration matters

CBD concentration matters

t’s true cannabidiol (CBD) is a drug. GW Pharmaceuticals went to great effort and expense to determine the clinical benefits of CBD. The specific, single-entity chemical is considered a drug because FDA approved it as one, and that is how the U.S. regulatory system operates. The regulatory system also renders items as drugs based exclusively on what is said about them. Cognitive dissonance occurs with different interpretations of the law, and this dissonance, while remaining unresolved, affords opportunity.

Harvesting CBD from hemp raw material (the botanical that was so much the focus of the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Bill) is acceptable from a statutory perspective. Hemp products have recently passed through FDA review with a few specific new ingredients (not all) being considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for use in foods. The presence of CBD in hemp products additionally renders it consumed in conventional foods. The lack of objection to these hemp product GRAS notifications affirms FDA’s current determination regarding the safety of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The question of whether this lack of objection extends to use in dietary supplements is a separate, open issue. Proper notification of CBD products as new dietary ingredients (NDIs) for use in dietary supplements is mandatory unless the article of food (hemp) has not been “chemically altered.” The current thinking from FDA is that just about anything is considered chemical alteration. The draft guidance on NDI notifications, issued in August 2016, clarifies this thinking regarding what results in chemical alteration.

Peak cognitive dissonance occurred when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a Dec. 20, 2018 statement, “. . . it’s unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.” While FDA did not recently object to three GRAS notices for hemp products that contain trace amounts of both CBD and THC, it simultaneously stated its conclusions do not affect its position in an FDA Q&A on marijuana: It is a prohibited act under federal law “to introduce into interstate commerce a food to which CBD or THC has been added.” This is reminiscent of the similar agency view on the presence of lovastatin in products marketed as red yeast rice supplements and the related regulatory challenges it posed from years past.

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