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Applying the ‘E’ for joint health

Whether it’s an aging Boomer, an overworked Gen X weekend warrior or an active Millennial, maintenance joint health is increasingly a top daily concern. It’s a concern that spans generations and is driving consumers to seek out great information on natural solutions. Which raises the specter of the “E” in DSHEA.

That “E” stands for education. The concept behind the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) was not only that dietary supplements were safe, but they are beneficial. That “E” stands for the opportunity to educate the consumer, and the law allows education to be available. Consider the critical discussion regarding claims for dietary supplements. That special allowance is present so that meaningful—as well as truthful and not misleading—educational information could be delivered to consumers.

Of course, there is a challenge with that when it comes to the topic of joint health. Even looking at this challenge from two widely different angles, the challenge is simple: Claims about joint health are tough to make. Add to this the desire to discuss the substantiated potential of some nutrients to affect minor pain and inflammation, but also the cost of such substantiation, and what we see in the market is more borrowed science that still doesn’t comply with the law.

FDA several years ago determined that inflammation claims were generally equivalent to disease claims, with few exceptions. When considering the limited potential for presenting acceptable pain relief claims and the preclusion of discussion of joint health, we have a claims quagmire. Substantiation alone for joint health support is challenging since most clinical endpoints would be either too long to measure realistically (populations with dietary components and statistically significant effect on joint health) and/or require evaluation of who would be considered “diseased” individuals. That substantiation, in FDA’s current thinking, is not appropriate.

However, I believe we can educate the consumer in those areas with the relative regulatory impunity; the emphasis in the approach lies in the “E” portion of the acronym and other allowances within the law.

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Joint Health Supplements: Steadily, flexibly forward

Joint Health Steadily flexibly forward

As the global joint health market grows a steady 7 percent over the next three years, the category’s staple dietary ingredients and products are giving way to a fresh wave of botanicals and specialty compounds, bringing researched joint and inflammation management to a wider, active audience than those with aging bodies.

Beyond Relief. “Consumers want products that improve their health, not products that mask their symptoms,” explained Tim Hammond, vice president of sales and marketing, Bergstrom Nutrition. In fact, as joint health and function is something consumers want to preserve over a lifetime, they are looking for customized joint health solutions that are safe for long-term use. For many, this means a small, daily supplement dose—but for others, including the younger generations, alternative delivery formats are the way to joint regimen compliance in busy lives.

Herbs on the Rise. Persistent local inflammation is a recognized key driver of wear and tear joint problems, including osteoarthritis (OA). Inflammation is typically a short-term consequence of activities, but chronic or persistent inflammation can have a lasting damaging effect on joints. Turmeric has reached superfood status and is on the rise in joint health, owing largely to its primary anti-inflammatory constituent curcumin. Additional botanical ingredients offering anti-inflammatory and other joint-related researched benefits include ashwagandha, ginger, Boswellia serrataTerminalia chebulaBacopa monnieri and Kaempferia galangal, which has the cool nickname of “resurrection lily.”

Animals to the Rescue. Despite the growing use of botanicals for inflammation and oxidative stress control, joint health still relies heavily on supplying naturally occurring compounds found in cartilage and synovial fluid, which are commonly derived from animal sources. A popular trademark in this category involves collagen, a critical cartilage component. Research has shown undenatured collagen from chicken and collagen peptide ingredients derived from animal skin and bones deliver key amino acids crucial to improving the structure and function of cartilage and connective tissues, including inflammation management. Also, glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) and other compounds found in healthy cartilage are commonly supplemented through popular ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin from shellfish, but eggshell membrane has emerged as an alternative animal source that also delivers keratin and collagen, as well as anti-inflammatory compounds.

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