Thinking generously (and probably factoring food into the total), Malcolm Nicholl, president and CEO of ResVez, Inc., estimates that the U.S. market for anti-aging products is roughly $20 billion.
Mr. Nicholl, whose company is based in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, also states that gourmet chocolate is a $3 billion industry. Opportunistically, he has developed a single product designed to penetrate both markets. Called Winetime, it is a nutrition bar that the company says “can be enjoyed as a healthy indulgence, a snack, or even a meal replacement.”
Mr. Nicholl says, “Each dark chocolate Winetime bar contains as much resveratrol as you would find in 50 glasses of red wine and also has dates, almonds, seven extra superfruits and seven grams of fiber.”
It may be too early to declare Winetime bars the beginning of a new direction in antioxidant delivery. Nonetheless, Mr. Nicholl’s niche product shows how far antioxidants have come. He no longer believes that it is enough to offer a conventional capsule, arguing passionately that “consumers are looking for antioxidants in a more palatable form and definitely more condition-specific.”
Is Mr. Nicholl right? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, there is no question that public awareness of the benefits of antioxidants is at an all-time high.
Statistics published by Nutrition Business Journal, while not as grandiose as Nicholls’ estimate, show that antioxidant supplements are reaching record numbers. In 2008, sales totaled $4.6 billion, up nearly 6% over the year before, and a huge jump from the $3 billion reported in 2006. This during a year when the real estate market collapsed and the economy tanked in late summer.
NBJ noted that in 2008 the top five categories of anti-aging products were vitamin B, vitamin C, CoQ10, vitamin E and vitamin A/beta-carotene.
As with the tip of an iceberg, the visible position of these five time-tested ingredients may be deceptive. Below the surface is where the real heft and impact of the market will be felt, according to experts. That’s where you’ll find more exotic, more novel approaches to antioxidant nutrition—including superfruits, flavonoids, isoflavones, polyphenols, herbs, extracts, enzymes and more.
Superfruits probably are attracting the greatest interest from consumers. Flavor Dynamics, Inc. (FDI), headquartered in South Plainfield, NJ, boasts a roster of 13 different superfruit flavors, including not only already popular açai, goji berry and mangosteen, but such lesser known varieties as feijoa, yumberry, jostaberry, cherimoya, babaco, dragon fruit (and its cousin pitahaya or yellow dragon fruit), jackfruit, maqui berry and carambola.
According to the company, all of these products are “formulated for fresh and frozen applications that target consumers who want the best of both worlds—nutrition and flavor.” And all are available in N&A, Natural WONF (with other natural flavors) and organic-compliant forms.
Even more obscure are some of the 14 botanical antioxidant body care entries from Amazon Drops, Inc., located in Los Angeles, CA. The list includes cupuaçu, açai berry, capaiba, passion fruit, buriti, bacuri, andiroba, palm oil and palm kernel oil, pacaxi, coconut, ucuúba, murumuru, babaçu, and tucumã. All of these are wild-harvested in the Amazon rainforest and are used as nature made them, the company claims, without synthetics or chemicals.
On the consumer side, Carson City, NV-based Fruitology, Inc. has concocted Früt A Vie, a drink designed to “combat oxidative stress, the underlying cause of various conditions,” including low energy and poor skin tone. Principal ingredients are açai, mangosteen, grape skin, cherry, blueberry and pomegranate.
From RFI Ingredients in Blauvelt, NY, come extracts sourced from wolfberry, blueberry, goji berry and plum. The company also offers OxyPhyte, a proprietary line of bioactive antioxidant products derived from GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) fruits, vegetables, teas and herbs.
RFI sales and marketing executive Jennifer Diliddo identifies antioxidants as “one of the top 10 global trends for consumer products in 2008 and 2009.” She cites industry research reporting that superfruit sales hit $851 million in 2008 and that the category chalked up a 67% increase in product launches between 2007 and 2008.
The RFI representative credits NBJ with suggesting that the biggest growth in antioxidant products is coming from non-vitamin ingredients. These sales were up 11% in 2007 while total antioxidant sales were up just more than 6%. And, Ms. Diliddo insists, “The biggest standout by far was seen in antioxidant products made from fruits, vegetables and superfruits. This category of antioxidants experienced explosive growth of 21%.”
At the same time, she says, “Vitamin/mineral-based antioxidants like vitamins E, C and selenium had negative growth or barely single-digit growth.”
Hartley Pond, vice president of technical sales for Momence, IL-based VDF/FutureCeuticals, agrees that “the big trends have been the emergence of ‘new superfruits’ and the consumer’s fascination with products from distant lands.” Another trend, he notes, is increasing interest in whole food servings of fruits and vegetables.
Although the vast majority of Americans still haven’t embraced the 5-A-Day program, Mr. Pond cites the willingness of mainstream manufacturers like Campbell’s and Frito Lay to offer products with whole fruit and vegetable servings as evidence that the tide may eventually turn.
He lists the following as emerging antioxidants—ingredients that are beginning to capture significant market attention: açai, goji, acerola cherry, maqui and coffeeberry. And, he cautions, it would be unwise to overlook such antioxidant “mainstays” as wild blueberry, cranberry, green tea, cherry and grape skin and grape seed extract.
FutureCeuticals’ featured antioxidant products include VitaBerry, VitaVeggie and VitaBerry Tropical, all blends that are standardized to ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity), as well as individual markers such as proanthocyanins, anthocyanins, glucosinolates and more. Mr. Pond notes, “We also produce individual trademarked ingredients such as our VitaBlue Wild Blueberry Extract and our VitaGranate Pomegranate Extract.”
At Jarrow Formulas, a Los Angeles, CA-based supplement manufacturer that also owns Jarrow Industries, an ingredients company, consultant Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, identifies 44 distinct antioxidant products. Fruit-based offerings include: Organic Berry High, Bilberry + Grapeskin Polyphenols, Blackcurrant + Lutein, Blackcurrant Freeze-Dried Extract & Blackcurrant Juice Concentrate, Daily 5, Ginkgo & Grape Seed, OPCs + 95, Pomegranate Juice Concentrate, Pomegranate + Blackcurrant, Pomegranate Grape & Blueberry, PomeZotic (a blend that combines pomegranate, grape, goji, açai berries, and mangosteen), Resveratrol 100, Resveratrol Synergy and Resveratrol Synergy 200.
Michelle’s Miracle of Leland, MI, sells tart Montmorency cherry concentrate in 52-gallon barrels as well as in finished product packages designed for retail shelves. The latter include not only the concentrate, but also dried cherries for use in salads, trail mix, cereals and baked goods, and a dietary supplement form called CherriMax. These 1000 mg tablets are GMO-free and contain no preservatives, food coloring or added sugar.
Promoted by Michelle’s Miracle as a regulator of inflammation and healthy sleep patterns, tart cherry concentrate is said to have an ORAC count of 12,800 units per 100 grams. And, the company adds, it is rich in anthocyanins, melatonin, potassium and vitamin A/beta-carotene.
Resveratrol, usually sourced from grapes, is featured as the leading ingredient in every one of the finished products offered by ReserveAge Organics of Gainesville, FL. James Perin, MD, who wears two hats—one as CEO of Blue Wave Industries, an Orange Park, FL-based research and testing facility, and the other as scientific adviser for ReserveAge—calls resveratrol “the most significant antioxidant we have seen on the market in the last 12 months. This has fueled interest in researching grapes and other resveratrol-containing fruit (açai berries, peanuts, bilberries, etc.).”
The result, Dr. Perin notes, has been increased development of products like ReserveAge’s four pure resveratrol supplements—Resveratrol 100 mg, Resveratrol 250 mg, Resveratrol 500 mg, and Resveratrol Tonic—and four blended products—Ultimate Antioxidant, Collagen Booster, Ubiquinol CoQ10 and Vibrance Liquid Multivitamin.
With an ORAC score of 559 (u mole TE/g), the seeds of muscadine grapes have been reported as higher than pomegranate (105), plum (79), blueberry (77) and red grape (Vitis vinifera) (74). Nature’s Dream, a West Covina, CA, company, markets six varieties of wine under the Golden Muscadine label.
Noting that Native Americans once used muscadine grapes for medicinal purposes, the company points to lab research showing positive effects in “supporting circulatory, digestive and prostate health.” One University of North Carolina study found that 150 ml (5 oz.) daily of muscadine wine lowered blood sugar and fibrinogen levels after one month, while raising C and E levels and improving liver function among the participants.
Muscadine also figures in the product roster assembled by Hauppauge, NY-based Bio-Botanica. Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, sometimes known as The Natural Nurse, is author of “The Natural Medicine Chest,” and serves as professional herbalist/nutritionist for Bio-Botanica. She says, “Current interest in the muscadine grape includes the discovery that it is significantly higher in antioxidants than other grape species, and muscadine-derived wine provides over five times more resveratrol than ordinary red wines—over 40 mg/L compared to between 0.2 and 5.8 mg/L.”
Muscadine grapes, she continues, are just one ingredient in Bio-Botanica’s Orac Super 7, a blend that also includes açai, mangosteen, goji (wolfberry), pomegranate, red coffeeberry and green tea. Additional components are: organic apple juice concentrate, organic pear juice concentrate and organic agave nectar, as well as grape, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry and cherry.
Powergrape, one of the leading supplement products offered by Naturex, recently received scientific support from a study published in the September 2009 Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. According to the company, which is headquartered in Avignon, France, and has a U.S. office in South Hackensack, NJ, the research confirmed the efficacy of the product, a red grape extract, for enhancing antioxidant status and physical performance in elite athletes during competition.
Dean Mosca, president of Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc. (PNI), of Kearny, NJ, names these prominent fruit-based antioxidants marketed by his company: The Berry-Max Factor; Cran-Max Cranberry Concentrate; Cherry-Max Cherry Concentrate; Blue-Max Blueberry Concentrate; Bil-Max Bilberry Concentrate; Elder-Max Elderberry Concentrate; and Pomegranate Concentrate. PNI also is the licensed distributor for Sytrinol, a flavone product that is discussed in more detail in the next section of this article.
The best-known antioxidant ingredient offered by Morristown, NJ-based P.L. Thomas is GliSODin, a patented combination of a cantaloupe-type melon extract (Cucumis melo), which is rich in superoxide dismutase (SOD) and gliadin. The gliadin helps protect the SOD from digestive acids and also helps deliver the SOD to immune-active cells in the gut.
Brand manager Eric Anderson says, “GliSODin presents a radical new approach to antioxidant supplementation, one that is entirely different from supplementing with conventional dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins and minerals, to correct a deficiency. GliSODin activates the most powerful antioxidants known, the body’s own internal antioxidant defense system, including SOD, glutathione peroxidase (Gpx) and catalase (Cat). GliSODin is also supported by interventional clinical research to protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress.”
Other antioxidant products from P.L. Thomas include: Vivox, Synerox, Aquarox and Inolens rosemary leaf extracts, which are based on rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, as well as synergistic combinations with other antioxidants; MegaNatural Gold BP, which has been clinically demonstrated to help maintain normal blood pressure levels; and other fruit extracts derived from pomegranate seed, apples, plums, açai, acerola, camu, cranberry, blueberry leaf and black currants.
At Madera, CA-based Polyphenolics, a division of Constellation Wines US, the three key antioxidant products are all sourced from grapes. What else would one expect from a wine company?
Steve Kupina, director of technical sales, describes the three as: MegaNatural-BP, a condition-specific grape seed extract for blood pressure reduction and maintenance; MegaNatural-Gold, a grape seed extract used as a powerful antioxidant; and MegaNatural-GSKE, a grape pomace extract containing anthocyanins.
Lakshmi Prakash, PhD, vice president of innovation and business development for Sabinsa Corporation, in Piscataway, NJ, says her company’s entry among superfruit antioxidant ingredients is Saberry, derived from Indian gooseberry (amla) and standardized for the biomarker betaglucogallin.
The fruit-based antioxidants from Cyvex Nutrition, in Irvine CA, include: AppleZin—apple extract, polyphenols with phlorizin (5%), which supports cardiovascular health; BerryVin high ORAC berries, which support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol; BioVin 20 grape extract, 20% polyphenols; BioVin Full Spectrum Grape Extract, polyphenols free radical scavenger; BioVin Advanced—red wine extract; Euro Black Currant—25% anthocyanins for eye health; LingoNol—lingonberry extract for weight management and urinary tract support; PhytoTropic—superfruit antioxidant blend; and PomActiv—pomegranate extract, 70% ellagic acid.
As part of its “major commitment to the development of scientifically based natural antioxidant ingredients,” Ethical Naturals of San Anselmo, CA, offers the following products: ORAC-15,000, a patent-pending natural extract from grapeseed, and SFB: Standardized Fruit Blend, which is standardized both for ORAC value (7500 units/gram), and for polyphenols (40%).
According to company president Cal Bewicke, ORAC-15,000 has three times the ORAC level of vitamin C, is water-soluble, and has a low flavor profile. SFB, he says, is manufactured from nine fruits, including bilberry, chokeberry, cranberry, goji, grape, mangosteen and pomegranate.
InterHealth Nutraceuticals’ fruit-based antioxidant ingredient is OptiBerry, which the Benicia, CA-based company describes as “a unique, multiple berry formula containing extracts of six of the most thoroughly researched fruits: wild blueberry, wild bilberry, cranberry, elderberry, raspberry seed and strawberry.”
Paul Dijkstra, CEO, says OptiBerry provides a specific amount of polyphenolic compounds, standardized against four different anthocyanins (malvidin, cyanidin, delphinidin and petunidin). As assessed by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) imaging, the ingredient has been shown to deliver whole body antioxidant protection while, at the same time, decreasing oxidative stress.
Tampa, FL-based Living Fuel, Inc. markets full meal replacements, as opposed to dietary supplements. Its leading fruit-based products are Living Fuel SuperBerry Ultimate and SuperBerry Original. In August 2009, the company issued a press release claiming that it had become the first to go beyond ORAC testing to a “next generation” standard called Total ORAC FN (Total Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity for Food and Nutrition). Developed by Brunswick Laboratories, headquartered in Norton, MA, Total ORAC FN is a patent-pending approach that purports to measure the antioxidant power of a product against five of the most important free radicals found in humans: hydroxyl, peroxyl, peroxynitrite, singlet oxygen and superoxide anion.
According to the release, SuperBerry Ultimate was shown to have a Total ORAC FN score of 119,200, which, the company says, is more than 13 times the broad-spectrum antioxidant protection of a serving of vitamin C and 10 times the broad-spectrum protection of green tea.
Bio-Botanica’s Ms. Kamhi says, “Antioxidants can be differentiated by their colors. Those of a red, orange or yellowish color fall into the group known as carotenoids, while those with a blue, purple, black or green color are from the phenolic family, such as polyphenols from green tea. The carotenoid group of antioxidants is fat-soluble and therefore offers protection for the fat-containing parts of the body, such as the layers of the skin. Carotenoids also enhance the activity of other fat-soluble antioxidants such as vitamins A and E and CoQ10. Some of the best carotenoid sources are lycopene, curcumin and lutein. Lycopene, a red carotenoid derived from tomatoes, has been shown to contain strong protection capabilities against free radical damage. Curcumin, a yellow carotenoid from turmeric, displays a more protective antioxidant activity than that of vitamin E or vitamin A in protecting DNA breakdown (by free oxygen). It also serves as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.”
Steve Holtby, president and CEO of Los Angeles, CA-based Soft Gel Technologies, Inc. (SGTI), reports that his company offers a wide range of antioxidants, many of them containing CoQ10 and/or the carotenoid lycopene.
According to Mr. Holtby, “Lycopene has been the subject of a number of epidemiological studies that indicate there is an inverse relationship between blood lycopene level and cancer risk.” He cites a study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, which demonstrated that not only is lycopene a potent antioxidant, but that a synergistic mix of tomato phytonutrients in a similar ratio to that found in nature, and also as found in LyCoQ, renders LDL-C 90% more resistant to oxidation than LDL-C alone.
Soft Gel’s LyCoQ is formulated with Lyc-O-Mato, a patented tomato extract from LycoRed, an Israeli company with U.S. offices in Orange, NJ, and CoQsol, a highly bioavailable CoQ10 from SGTI. Thus, it combines two of the nutrition industry’s better-known ingredients in one soft gelatin capsule for the promotion of cardiovascular health.
Similarly, says Mr. Holtby, SGTI partners with Allendale, NJ-based Lonza on CarnisolQ10, which contains that company’s Carnipure—a 100% pure, natural L-carnitine L-tartrate with no D-carnitine in a micronized form—and SGTI’s CoQsol.
Yet another product in the SGTI line is Sytrinol, developed by Canada’s KGK Synergize, and licensed for distribution in the U.S. by PNI. SGTI encapsulates Sytrinol in soft gels. According to Mr. Holtby, this ingredient is created by blending polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) and a range of palm (alpha, delta and gamma) tocotrienols. PNI’s Dean Mosca says that Sytrinol may “significantly lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides,” and “has also been shown to increase HDL levels.”
Sharrann Simmons, senior marketing manager for the North American operations of Cognis Nutrition & Health, identifies the following as one of her company’s leading antioxidant products: Cognis Xangold, natural lutein esters, a carotenoid ingredient naturally sourced from marigolds, and said to be a useful nutrient for both eye health and skin health. In the latter role, Ms. Simmons says, lutein aids in skin hydration and retention of skin elasticity.
Burlington, NJ-based Fuji Health Science, markets the following antioxidant ingredients, all containing astaxanthin: AstaReal, which is available as an extract oil; AstaReal L10 (solvent-free CO2 extraction); and an extract powder, AstaReal P2AF, which is designed for tablets, capsules and water dispersible applications.
As Charles DePrince, president and CEO, describes it, “Astaxanthin [Fuji’s is produced from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis] is a latecomer to the antioxidant arena.” Nevertheless, he says, it should be considered “the king of carotenoids because of its unique chemical structure and orientation within the cell membrane.”
He explains, “Astaxanthin shares a part of the same biosynthetic pathway as beta-carotene, and they both possess a polyene chain that is able to quench free radicals. Astaxanthin is part of the xanthophyll sub-group because of the additional keto and hydroxyl groups that are attached to the isoprene rings. This gives astaxanthin the ability to orientate into the optimal hydrophilic and hydrophobic position, and provides the lipid bilayer with superior protection against peroxidation.”
Mr. DePrince cites studies showing that astaxanthin “exceeds all other carotenoids as well as other popular antioxidants in quenching singlet oxygen.” And, he adds, Fuji has sponsored more than 50 research studies over the past 10-plus years to investigate the condition-specific benefits of astaxanthin. Although many areas have indicated benefit, he says, the ones that have the greatest scientific support are muscle and physical endurance, eye fatigue and cardiovascular health.
Although Leonia, NJ-based Solgar, as a manufacturer of consumer-ready supplements, has a full line representing all types of antioxidants, Richard Passwater, PhD, the company’s vice president of research and development, has a few special words to say about Pycnogenol.
According to Dr. Passwater, “Flavonoids (bioflavonoids) are now getting their rightful attention after being largely ignored. Pycnogenol is a unique and powerful natural plant extract made from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. This patented ingredient stands out because of all the research that has evolved over the past 20 years identifying health benefits to be derived from the supplement itself (rather than a food containing the nutrients). These range from its ability to lower oxidative stress (free radical load and activity) to improvements in wellness in such other areas as heart, joint, immune, eye and skin health. Pycnogenol also supports sugar metabolism and leg and vein health.”
Bio-Botanica is developing ingredients based on the root of “White Kwao Krua,” which has been revered by the people of Southeast Asia for more than 500 years. Said to have “profound anti-aging properties,” the root is formally known as Pueraria candollei var mirifica.
Folklore suggests that the root is a “fountain of youth” for aged men and women. It is said to serve as an anti-wrinkle agent, to darken white hair, increase hair growth, alleviate cataract problems, help with memory loss, increase energy and vigor, improve blood circulation, boost appetite and regulate sleep disorders. In fact, the name mirifica in Latin means miracle.
Legend aside, there are modern scientific studies showing that the plant contains phytoestrogens such as miroestrol and deoxymiroestrol, isoflavonoids such as daidzin and daidzein, and isoflavones like genistin, genistein and puerarin. All have been shown to have a high level of antioxidant activity, probably due to their ability to increase the cell protective substance SOD.
Green Bay, WI-based EuroPharma is championing its CuraMed as a powerful antioxidant with an ORAC value of more than 159,277 per 100 grams. The company claims that its patented process enables it to deliver curcumin in a form that is eight times more bioavailable than curcumin 95% and seven times more bioavailable than curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine and piperine. Each dose is said to ensure between eight and 12 hours of sustained activity in the body.
In addition to its fruit-based antioxidants, described previously, Cyvex also has many offerings sourced from vegetables and at least one that comes from the heartwood of a tree. The latter is QVida—quebracho extract, and the others are: BroccoPhane—broccoli-sprout concentrate standardized for sulforaphane; BroccoPlus—sulforaphane and glucosinolates; and BroccoSinolate—broccoli concentrate standardized for glucosinolates.
For Wakunaga of America Co. Ltd., located in Mission Viejo, CA, the principal antioxidant product is one in which it has always specialized—garlic. Specifically, aged garlic extract, or AGE, which is the main active ingredient in the company’s Kyolic brand of products.
According to the company, the garlic acquires its antioxidant properties during an aging process that lasts almost 24 months. Without this process, Wakunaga contends, garlic supplements may actually be pro-oxidant instead of antioxidant.
The company reports that AGE is rich in water-soluble organosulfur compounds such as S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine, which are strong antioxidants. “Basic studies have demonstrated that AGE directly scavenges free radicals, inhibits lipid peroxidation, protects the red blood cells from oxidant injury, decreases gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity and doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.”
Moreover, says Wakunaga, AGE has been clinically proven to reduce the oxidized LDL (bad cholesterol) formation and oxidative stress caused by smoking, enhance the intracellular antioxidants such as glutathione, and maintain healthy blood vessel functions by protecting the endothelial cells from free radical injuries.
Within the vitamins category, Cognis offers Covi-ox natural mixed tocopherols, which is composed of four natural tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and vitamin C. It also offers Covitol natural vitamin E, which is said to be effective as both a dietary supplement and a functional ingredient in so-called beauty-from-within functional foods and beverages.
InterHealth’s L-OptiZinc is a patented L-methionine-bound zinc complex containing 20% elemental zinc. According to the company, animal research has shown that the ingredient inhibits the production of harmful free radicals, lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation better than other forms of zinc. L-OptiZinc also has been shown to have superior absorption and retention.
Ryan Davis, vice president of technical services for Kelatron Corporation, Ogden, UT, emphasizes that many different minerals are “essential from a biochemical standpoint as they are incorporated into a diverse array of antioxidant metalloenzymes that are only active when these minerals are present. Some of these important metalloenzyme activating minerals include zinc, iron, copper and selenium.”
Mr. Davis also contends that another appropriate antioxidant of choice is ascorbic acid (vitamin C) with its “ability to easily reduce reactive oxygen species.” At Kelatron, he says, “We are able to combine the minerals mentioned above with ascorbic acid to create a biomineral ascorbate complex, thus providing a product with a double effect.” In addition, the company also supplies a selenium product for an ongoing research project on that antioxidant’s benefit in prostate health.
One point on which many of this story’s sources concur is a shift in emphasis from generalized antioxidants to those that are more condition-specific. As Cognis’ Ms. Simmons points out, this is not confined to antioxidants, but extends to many other supplement categories as well. It is increasingly common, she notes, to find products being marketed for heart health, eye health, skin health, and so on. “Antioxidants are not leading this trend, but are part of it,” she observes.
At Cyvex, says Matt Phillips, “Most of our antioxidant ingredients have condition-specific relevance. For example, BroccoPhane (sulforaphane) has viability in formulas for healthy digestion, and BioVin Advanced with resveratrol has applications for cardio formulas.”
Sabinsa’s Dr. Prakash says, “Antioxidants are finding a place in the cardiovascular support, beauty-from-within, and energy/sports nutrition areas. Since most chronic conditions are rooted in inflammation, antioxidants are being used in other condition-specific formulations as well, including brain health, joint support and management of allergies.”
Blue Wave’s Dr. Perin cites the use of resveratrol in products being tested for everything from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s. Assessing the pros and cons of this phenomenon, Dr. Perin says, “For antioxidants to be tested and then labeled condition-specific is good as long as it encompasses a particular group of individuals that is large and the company selling the antioxidant product can show how it is helping the individual with the ailment. This can define a market for the company to sell to.”
On the other hand, there is this caveat: “If the company finds that the product works for a condition-specific group that is small, then they may wind up marketing to only a small group. There also may be problems with the FDA, which takes a very close look at companies making claims about treating or preventing specific diseases—particularly if there is insufficient data to back up the claims.”
Some sources, such as Futureceuticals’ Mr. Pond, are convinced that condition-specific products are the future for the antioxidant segment. His company has launched a program called TargeTest, which is aimed at determining both the bioavailability and the specific bioactivity of its products. “The test examines the effects of dietary supplements, particularly antioxidants, on target enzymes and markers in the blood. Research has shown that the activity of these markers can have an effect on chronic health conditions.”
In any effort to craft a condition-specific product, extreme care is necessary, cautions Fuji Health Sciences’ Mr. DePrince. “This is a complex question,” he says, noting that the nature of an antioxidant is to protect cells, which in turn has an influence on most conditions. This leads to a plethora of emerging health benefit claims for antioxidants.
But, Mr. DePrince warns, “To avoid the resulting skepticism about supplements that [are promoted as good for] everything, producers need to be very selective in targeting focused condition-specific areas for their antioxidants.”
Paul Flowerman, president of P.L. Thomas, Morristown, NJ, calls for strong scientific support when making condition-specific product claims. “With good science and well-targeted promotion, application-specific antioxidants have a great future. But the bar will continue to rise, and it will be challenging for smaller companies to support the research required for the development of major brands.”
RFI Ingredients’ Ms. Diliddo isn’t quite ready to designate condition-specific antioxidants as a trend—at least not yet. “For the most part, our customers are asking more for evidence that the products will protect from overall oxidative stress,” she says. Nevertheless, she concedes, “as more clinical research goes into non-vitamin antioxidants, we might see some antioxidants that could be marketed for specific conditions.” As an example, she cites a recent clinical study linking weight loss to green tea.
Still, Ms. Diliddo’s current sense is that, instead of companies developing condition-specific antioxidants, they are more likely to include antioxidants in other condition-specific formulas. “For example, since it is well established that diabetics need additional antioxidants in their diet, we might see blood glucose formulas with blood glucose-lowering ingredients combined with antioxidants. But we probably won’t see antioxidants alone being touted for blood glucose maintenance.”
Two notable antioxidants with condition-specific potential are selenium and CoQ10. Dr. Passwater, who has written extensively about both ingredients, points out that there already is a qualified health claim for selenium and the reduction of cancer risk. In addition, he says, “CoQ10 is recognized as helpful in preventing the serious side effects of statin drugs being used to lower cholesterol.”
What makes a product or ingredient successful in today’s crowded antioxidant market? Dr. Perin, the researcher who consults for ReserveAge Organics, says there are three key elements: 1. Having a good story about your product and why your company is bringing it to the consumer; 2. Being honest about your product and what it can do for the consumer; and 3. Having good research that demonstrates how the product will function for the consumer.
Dr. Perin sees the last one as the most difficult because “we are all different, and as any researcher (or physician) will tell you, many people react differently to the same product.”
He says that his own company, BlueWave Industries, has been increasingly involved in nutrigenomics (the study of the human genome and how diet and supplements interact with human genetics). “The goal is to personalize individual diets and supplements to maximize their benefits. This same step is being taken in medicine with personalized medicine starting to become more important in the prevention and treatment of disease,” he says.
Almost echoing Dr. Perin, Jarrow’s Mr. Bruno states, “Probably the most important criterion for success is having a good, coherent story/message to differentiate the product from all the other antioxidant products. Ideally, this should include solid research that substantiates the value of the antioxidant. Unfortunately, it often includes unsubstantiated testimonials that may lack credibility.”
Mr. Pond offers the following advice: “On one level, success in today’s antioxidant market appears to be a blend of science and what is new, [tied to] a romantic story from a faraway land. Açai is a great example in that it does provide a high ORAC level and anthocyanin levels, but it is also a story of discovery for mainstream consumers. The market is definitely in part driven by the desire of consumers to learn about new fruits and vegetables that may well not be available at the local fresh produce section of their supermarket. There is a curiosity factor in today’s antioxidant market.”
InterHealth’s Mr. Dijkstra thinks that companies whose products promise health benefits have the best chance to succeed. His reasoning: 31 million Baby Boomers will turn 65 in the next 10 years, creating a unique group of active and wealthy seniors in their 60s and 70s. Mr. Dijkstra sees this demographic group as a potential “gold mine” for antioxidant products because of their anti-aging benefits.
He says, “With disease prevention being a key objective, this particular demographic group has behaviors and available discretionary income that are quite different from previous generations. They not only have the means to ensure they stay healthy longer, but they have the knowledge needed to take care of themselves, i.e., they tend to eat more healthfully and are overall actively involved in maintaining their health and vitality.”
Looking ahead, the antioxidant ingredient market appears to have strong prospects. Ms. Simmons from Cognis’ cites the need for “products that can help maintain high-quality, shelf-stable products to feed the world”—a suitable industrial application for antioxidants.
Ethical Naturals’ Mr. Bewicke looks for increased growth owing to demographic opportunity, ongoing publicity and investment in top-quality products and materials.
PNI’s Dean Mosca sees growth tied to velocity of research, continued development and steady consumer demand.
Only a few cautionary voices are being thrown on this chorus of hope: Sabinsa displays some concern about the lack of universally accepted methods/criteria for in vitro and in vivo testing of antioxidant potential, and RFI Ingredients’ Ms. Diliddo says that in a stumbling short-term economy, “it is very likely that people are going to be more careful with their money and spend it only on products that have some scientific backing, not just a high ORAC value.”
But Dr. Passwater remains optimistic, placing his reliance on research. He says, “Studies are under way to explore and clarify the roles of antioxidants in reducing the incidence and severity of various diseases of aging. The initial successful studies still stand, but a series of poorly designed (flawed) studies has cast some doubt as to the effectiveness of antioxidant nutrients. Truth will win out as better-designed studies are conducted. The future will be bright because antioxidants help people live better longer.”
About the author: New Jersey-based freelance writer Alan Richman is the former editor/associate publisher of Whole Foods Magazine. His most recent article in Nutraceuticals World dealt with digestive health. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.