While the obsession with superfruits and foods helped introduce many mainstream consumers to antioxidants, and the concepts of free radical scavenging and oxidative stress, the market has been primed for a more thorough, detailed discussion.
“With growing awareness among consumers about the effects of stress, lifestyle, age, diseases, food habits and the environment on production of free radicals and the oxidative stress caused by them, interest in antioxidants has been increasing,” noted Anurag Pande, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs, Sabinsa Corp., East Windsor, NJ. “Antioxidants are no longer limited to reducing free radicals in the system; claims have encompassed the role of anti-aging, immune support and anti-inflammatory, neuro- and cardio-protective functions.”
Additionally, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about specific classes of antioxidants, according to Christian Artaria, marketing director, Italy-based Indena S.p.A. “We’re witnessing greater interest and awareness for antioxidant categories like polyphenols, anthocyanins and flavanols.”
Differentiating products will be key to future market success, said Mr. Artaria. “At Indena, we believe the foundation of differentiation is a focus on science—proving that the ingredient is safe and that it plays a biological role in the body for improving health.”
According to Mathieu Dondain, director of business development, France-based Nexira, demand for organic products also offers an opportunity for differentiation. “As consumers are increasingly looking for natural products and strong assurances of quality, traceability and environmental responsibility, the market for organic products is growing significantly. Nexira is particularly attentive to growing consumer demand for healthy and clean products; therefore, particular attention is paid to the extension of our organic products range.”
Overall, the antioxidant market has been flooded with a broad range of products, Mr. Dondain noted. “The recent explosion of ‘superfruits’ and the discovery of new plant species from the other side of the world have also helped to shape the changing antioxidant market.”
However, with increased understanding of nutrition among health-conscious buyers, marketing a product on antioxidant potency may not be enough to keep your customers. “To stand out, antioxidants have to be positioned for a particular use, with specific substantiation, clinical data and condition of use,” said Mr. Dondain.
Frank Jaksch, CEO, ChromaDex, Irvine, CA, also noted that simply marketing a product as an antioxidant is too broad for most consumers. “Because of the label’s overuse, the antioxidant claim does not have much meaning, either as a primary or stand-alone benefit. The fact that an ingredient has antioxidant properties does not mean it will deliver any health benefit to the user.
These health claims need to be supported by scientific studies that indicate specific benefits. Consumers are starting to pay attention to this need for science-backed ingredients, and the market needs to be moving toward meeting that demand.”
Dean Mosca, president, Proprietary Nutritionals Inc. (PNI), Kearny, NJ, said some antioxidants have outstanding science portfolios to support their claims, and are marketed reasonably/responsibly. “Think about vitamins A, C and E, cranberry, green tea, lutein, lycopene. Others, however, are marketed in an almost predatory way to be the super-antioxidant that fixes everything. Smart, health-conscious consumers know there is no such thing.”
Increased awareness has made consumers thirsty for more information, according to Paul Dijkstra, CEO, InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Benecia, CA. “Consumers are becoming increasingly informed about the nutraceuticals in their favorite food, beverage and supplement products and want to know that antioxidant claims are backed by bioavailability, efficacy and safety research.”
Ingredients that can be applied to food and beverages appeal to both manufacturers and consumers, he added, as consumers connect diet and lifestyle with quality of life, especially Baby Boomers. “This particular demographic group is incorporating dietary supplements along with moderate exercise and a healthy diet in order to maintain their good health and current quality of life.”
Products that are effective in delivering the recommended daily dosage of specific nutrients have an edge in the market, according to Steve Siegel, vice president of Ecuadorian Rainforest, LLC, Belleville, NJ. “When consumers see a product that can deliver a day’s worth of antioxidants along with other vitamins and minerals in an effective manner, they are much more prone to purchase these instead of products that focus only on just one antioxidant.”
Ultimately, the antioxidant market is becoming more refined, according to Luke Huber, ND, vice president, product innovation and scientific development for Life Extension, Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Researchers are discovering specific antioxidant nutrients have unique therapeutic and metabolic effects. Consumers are realizing the differences between antioxidant nutrients and selecting antioxidant supplements based upon their individual needs.”
According to SPINS data (across natural and conventional departments for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 21, 2013), sales of products containing many common antioxidants as their primary ingredient were mixed.
On the upswing, vitamin C (not including Ester-C) reached $794.6 million, up 7.1%; green teas and supplements grew 30.5% to $461.9 million; CoQ10 reached $254.4 million (up 8.3%); lutein reached $58.8 million (up 12.5%); turmeric grew 36.2% to $36.5 million; and vitamin A was up 99% to $11.5 million.
Trending downward, vitamin E (not Ester-E) sales fell slightly to $106.3 million (down .7%); resveratrol sales fell 11.1% to $15.4 million; selenium fell to $5.5 million (down 3.9%); and beta-carotene (not combo) fell 6.1% to $1.7 million.
Overall, consumption of antioxidant products use will continue to grow, according to Life Extension’s Dr. Huber, “as individuals realize the importance of prevention and reject the disease-treatment model of healthcare that is failing us. It is important for antioxidant ingredients to be targeted to consumer needs and not be one-size-fits-all products. At Life Extension, we are focused on research-based, condition-specific antioxidants that work through a variety of mechanisms beyond (but including) the reduction of free radicals.”
Negative research studies have impacted products like vitamin E, noted Jeff Wuagneux, president and CEO of RFI LLC, Blauvelt, NY. “Recent studies have shown there is higher risk of prostate cancer among healthy men taking high-dose vitamin E, and a possible higher risk of skin cancer in high-dose selenium supplementation. When the media reports these, they use the term ‘antioxidants,’ but the truth is that these studies are done on high dose antioxidant vitamins/minerals, not on plant antioxidants. So we believe there is a trend toward emphasizing the phytochemical category name (polyphenols, flavonoid) or even the key compound found uniquely in certain plants, such as resveratrol found in grape skin, or S-Allyl-Cysteine (SAC) found in ‘black garlic,’ rather than the umbrella term ‘antioxidant.’”
Mr. Wuagneux said another product trend involves not only helping to scavenge free radicals but also support the body’s natural antioxidant mechanisms “such as enhancing endogenous antioxidant enzyme production or inhibiting the body’s natural pro-oxidant enzymes.”
Regarding vitamin E, DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, NJ, is hoping recent research can swing the pendulum in the other direction. A clinical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that DSM’s Quali-E vitamin E delayed functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease by 19% or 6.2 months compared to placebo.
As an essential antioxidant nutrient, vitamin E helps protect cell membranes by neutralizing free radicals, maintaining the immune system, supporting the health of red blood cells and maintaining a healthy circulatory system, according to Todd Sitkowski, senior marketing manager at DSM.
“Currently, more than 90% of Americans do not consume enough vitamin E from foods and so meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 15 mg/day (33 IU of the dl-alpha-tocopherol form). The tolerable upper intake limit (UL) for vitamin E is set by IOM (the Institute of Medicine) at 1,000 mg per day for adult men and women after reviewing more than 300 scientific studies.”
When most consumers shop for supplements they have a specific condition in mind, as opposed to looking for a general antioxidant, RFI’s Mr. Wuagneux said. “Some trendy areas for antioxidant products include heart/lipid support, skin health and immune support. Another area of growth is the anti-inflammatory segment, especially considering FDA’s latest attack on the term ‘inflammation.’ Using antioxidant language in structure/function claims (specifically how antioxidants help inhibit inflammatory response factors) may be preferable terminology in this regulatory climate.”
PNI’s Mr. Mosca said antioxidants, in a sense, have always been somewhat condition specific. “People know to take vitamin C to nourish their immune system during wintertime. Lutein and lycopene have solid science showing efficacy in supporting eye/vision health and prostate health, respectively. Cranberry is the go-to antioxidant supplement for urinary tract health. As consumers continue to more confidently move into condition-specific supplements, condition-specific antioxidants are poised for outstanding success.”
Hartley Pond, vice president of technical sales, Van Drunen Farms/FutureCeuticals, Momence, IL, said there are enormous opportunities to develop a new generation of targeted antioxidant products. “We are focusing on specific antioxidants and their relation to specific ROS (reactive oxygen species) and identifying ideal dose levels. So in this respect, we believe the future of antioxidant science will be tied to personalized nutrition.”
The company is preparing to publish a clinical study that, according to Mr. Pond, will be “the first accurate measurement in real-time of the ability to modulate ROS in humans. FutureCeuticals has worked closely with Brunswick Laboratories with regard to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Assay and has continued to develop new products as the assay has evolved in sophistication. The ability to analyze how Spectra Total ORAC modulates ROS in vivo is extremely exciting, and will help shape the entire antioxidant discussion moving forward.”
As a sign of progress, hype over single entity “superfruits” like acai and mangosteen has waned, Mr. Pond added. “Consumers of antioxidants are becoming more savvy, and perhaps also jaded, and the promise of a new exotic superfruit as being a singular nutritional answer without substantial clinical data has lost credibility in today’s market.”
Indena’s Mr. Artaria said he expects to see a number of antioxidant products positioned for blood-sugar management, brain health and healthy immune function. “Another area of interest is for skin health. Indena has an antioxidant ingredient called Opextan from olive fruit that is double standardized in polyphenols and verbascoside, the most potent antioxidant from the olive tree. Opextan is derived from the pulp of a unique Italian olive found to have five times more polyphenols than other species Indena screened. Opextan has been proven to assist in the reduction of UV-light induced damage to skin, improve skin hydration and soften the visible signs of aging.”
With an aging population, market opportunities will be plentiful, he added. “The companies that are able to effectively introduce antioxidant ingredients with credible supporting science will be those that will benefit long term.”
Nexira’s Mr. Dondain said his company recently launched Oli-Ola, an olive extract standardized in hydroxytyrosol, a phytonutrient with strong antioxidant properties. “This antioxidant has been shown to help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing low-density lipoprotein oxidation. This 100% natural olive extract is produced from organic agriculture and is exclusive to Nexira Health.”
According to Life Extension’s Dr. Huber, consumers of antioxidant products tend to be thoughtful, health-conscious individuals who understand the damage oxidative stress causes over a lifetime, especially with regard to cardiovascular and cellular health. “The spectrum of conditions in which antioxidants may confer benefit is very broad and there are continuous new research developments in this area. Ubiquinol and PQQ support mitochondrial health and have increasing data. Curcumin research is continuing to develop in several areas including the modulation of inflammation and cellular health. Gamma tocopherol is especially beneficial in supporting cardiovascular health and research suggests gamma is as important as alpha tocopherol.”
The most successful products and ingredients on the market today have been validated through published research, echoed Mr. Jaksch, of ChromaDex, which manufactures pTeroPure, a patented, nature-identical form of pterostilbene, which is the stilbenoid in blueberries and other small berries.
“We identified pterostilbene as a product target because of the positive health effects demonstrated by a human clinical study conducted at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which evaluated pTeroPure for multiple health benefits. The results were presented to the American Health Association’s Scientific Sessions on High Blood Pressure Research in 2012.”
The 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 80 adults and found that members of the group receiving pterostilbene whose blood pressure was already within normal range achieved significant reductions in blood pressure compared to the placebo group.
“Because we have specific data to back the health claims for pterostilbene, we have been very successful in marketing the ingredient, which can now be found in more than two dozen supplement and nutritional products,” Mr. Jaksch said.
ChromaDex also manufactures NIAGEN, a nature-identical form of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a next-generation, no-flush version of vitamin B3 (niacin). NIAGEN has scientifically proven benefits in terms of performance, metabolism, neuro-protection, healthy aging and cardiovascular health, according to the company.
Sabinsa’s Dr. Pande also discussed the development of pterostilbene. “This is a polyphenolic compound with trans-stilbenoid structure. Its chemical structure is closely related to resveratrol. It has increased bioavailability in comparison to other stilbene compounds, which may contribute to health benefits. Recent studies on pterostilbene have shown how its antioxidant activity can help modulate/inhibit carcinogenesis, neurological diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and a host of other chronic diseases.”
Curcumin has also emerged as a potent antioxidant, he said, with anti-carcinogenesis, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, healing, cardio/neuro/renal protective activities. “Curcumin is one of the strongest antioxidants, consumed by millions for its health benefits in various formulations. Sabinsa markets Curcumin C3 Complex, the most clinically studied and researched brand of curcumin in the marketplace,” Dr. Pande said. “Curcumin C3 Complex is patented for its free radical scavenging activity. Another benefit is the added structure/function claim of ‘Bioprotectant,’ an activity closely related to its antioxidant activity.”
Lynda Doyle, vice president of global marketing, OmniActive Health Technologies, Short Hills, NJ, said increased consumer knowledge about health benefits has helped boost turmeric/curcumin into the top 10 best-selling supplements in the U.S. at $108 million in 2012, according to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) estimates. “Interest in curcumin among the scientific community is also growing considerably,” Ms. Doyle added. “For curcumin, poor bioavailability means extremely large doses, which has traditionally limited opportunities in the market. OmniActive launched CurcuWIN, a highly bioavailable curcumin in November 2013 to address this market need.”
CurcuWIN was the subject of a human clinical trial published in Nutrition Journal titled “Comparative Absorption Of Curcumin Formulations”. Research showed that CurcuWIN increased the relative absorption of total curcuminoids 45.9 times over standard unformulated curcumin, Ms. Doyle noted. “CurcuWIN was also shown to have a significantly higher relative bioavailability compared to other enhanced curcumin ingredients.”
Compelling science also supports the use of lutein throughout life, Ms. Doyle noted. “Lutein is now readily found in a wide range of product categories including eye, skin, health, brain and general health supplements, infant formula, as well as functional foods and beverages.”
Lutein protects against oxidative stress in nerve tissue, especially in the eyes and brain and is best known for its role in filtering damaging, high-energy light from the eye. “Eye health continues to be a top consumer health concern around the world in all age categories,” said Ms. Doyle, “and it is emerging as a top health concern for kids here in the U.S.”
Zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are also important carotenoids for the eye. Lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin make up the macular pigment, protecting the eye from high-energy light and oxidative stress—each playing a unique role in eye health.
“The critical role that lutein plays in a number of condition-specific and overall health platforms prompted OmniActive to launch our ‘Lutein for Every Age’ campaign a year ago. This campaign promotes ways to achieve eye, brain, skin and general health proactively through healthy living, diet and supplementation by educating consumers, natural product industry members and healthcare professionals about the benefits of lutein over a lifetime.”
As science supporting the health benefits of antioxidants grows and education spreads, Ms. Doyle said she expects they will continue to gain mass market appeal. She also emphasized demand for scientifically validated, branded ingredients as manufacturers look to differentiate their products. “Ingredient success today not only hinges on a manufacturer’s ability to differentiate an ingredient based on how it performs in the body or on its unique manufacturing process, but also on a manufacturer’s ability to guarantee quality, safety and supply.”
OmniActive has a focused clinical research plan and proactively drives category growth through marketing campaigns and educational initiatives, she added, partnering with key opinion leaders and top researchers. The company is developing a “robust education and marketing program around CurcuWIN and curcumin to drive category growth, and we believe it will be just as successful as our ‘Lutein For Every Age’ campaign in expanding the advancement of the lutein market,” Ms. Doyle said.
Tried & Trusted
With hype over the next big “superfruit” fading, and consumers looking for research to support their product purchases, old faithful products like cranberry and blueberry may get a boost alongside emerging nutrients.
PNI’s Mr. Mosca said his company’s proprietary cranberry concentrate Cran-Max owes much success to 11 clinical studies showing that supplementing with Cran-Max supports urinary tract health, and one landmark study that demonstrated Cran-Max was as effective as trimethoprim, the number-one prescribed antibiotic for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection.
“Research continues beyond clinical efficacy,” said Mr. Mosca. “For example, in late 2013, a new test method for cranberry ingredients revealed ‘hidden’ proanthocyanidins (PACs) in Cran-Max. These PACs were previously undetectable by standard industry testing methods, as they are bound to the fiber of the patented Bio-Shield delivery system used in Cran-Max.”
The company applied new analytic methods to help quantify “insoluble” PACs bound to fiber and other cell wall components of cranberry, he added. “This is a very important finding for whole cranberry products which may contain insoluble PACs, since they can now test to compete with PAC levels found in more common extracts containing easily quantified soluble PACs. This new test method adds even more support for the urinary health benefits of Cran-Max, as well as the mechanism of the Bio-Shield delivery system, since it shows the large majority of PACs in Cran-Max are bound to the cranberry fiber (as they would be in the naturally consumed state).”
Donald Brown, ND, managing director, Natural Product Research Consultants, Seattle, WA, said he’s keeping a close eye on new science related to blueberries. “There’s some really interesting science emerging with regard to cognitive function and antioxidant activity for neurological health.”
According to the U. S. Highbush Blueberry Council, phytochemicals found in blueberries continue to be investigated for their health benefits in slowing the aging process, including memory loss. “Studies of older laboratory animals consuming blueberry-supplemented diets have shown measurable improvements in memory, coordination and balance. Research is also uncovering neuron regeneration in older animals fed blueberries. The role of blueberries is being studied rigorously in all these areas and just as rigorous is the concern that all claims for beneficial effects be supported.”
Dr. Brown also noted an evolution in science supporting plant extracts with antioxidant properties that are more condition specific. For example, he noted the science behind bilberry. “There is good research on slowing and reducing diabetic retinopathy, and some work on macular degeneration, which is a huge problem in the aging population.”
Additionally, emerging research on plant lignans that are converted into enterolactone, such as HMRLignan (Norway spruce lignans) from Switzerland-based Linnea SA, suggested that women with increased enterolactone levels may have less risk of breast cancer. There’s also some evidence the benefits might extend to prostate health in men.
Research has demonstrated InterHealth’s OptiBerry derived from a unique blend of wild blueberry, strawberry, cranberry, wild bilberry, elderberry and raspberry extracts, offers “whole-body antioxidant protection” as well as its bioavailability to all vital organs. According to the company’s Mr. Dijkstra, the berries used in the OptiBerry formula have been shown to support healthy brain function and mental clarity, healthy vision, cardiovascular health, skin health, urinary tract health, healthy blood sugar levels and healthy aging.
Moreover, the company’s L-OptiZinc is a highly bioavailable antioxidant that offers 20% elemental zinc. Research on zinc has shown it may help support immune health, eye health, skin, hair and nail health, prostate health, muscle function, healthy testosterone levels, normal nerve function, GI/digestive health and healthy aging.
With so much focus on berries, AppleActives Inc., Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, has developed AppleActiv organic dried apple peel powder (Leahy DAPP). Lorraine Leahy, president of AppleActives, said, “While AppleActiv is a unique, new ingredient to the supplement market, it’s sourced from the fruit customers have known and trusted longer than any other: apples.
Manufacturers who are tired of the same old ‘superfruit’ claims now have something new and exciting to offer their customers.”
To harness the “power of the peel,” AppleActiv utilizes a patented process of gentle milling and low-temperature drying that was developed by Cornell University. This process preserves the nutritional value of the apple peels in a neutral-tasting dry powder.
AppleActiv works in food applications such as supplements, bars, dry powders, smoothies and marinades. AppleActiv contains no additional preservatives, artificial colors, dyes or additives, and is certified organic.
AppleActiv supports a wide variety of age-related conditions, according to the company, and research has demonstrated support of joint comfort and range of motion.
New research published recently in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness demonstrated the effectiveness of the well-studied antioxidant Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract in improving overall fitness performance levels and recovery. A clinical trial found the antioxidant was effective in improving performance and endurance and reducing muscle cramping and soreness by controlling oxidative stress.
The Pycnogenol study was based on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which evaluates physical fitness levels through muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular performance. Basic metrics of the APFT were applied in this research, including the number of sit-ups and push-ups a participant can complete in two minutes and the time it takes to run two miles.
Conducted in two parts at the Chieti-Pescara University in Pescara, Italy, the study followed 201 subjects ages 32-36 years old, who were each tested using either APFT standards or tracked while completing an average 100-minute triathlon.
Each of the clinical trials was divided into two groups: one group of participants that supplemented their daily routine with Pycnogenol and one group that did not. The results of both distinct trials found that with four to eight weeks of daily supplementation with Pycnogenol, the participants significantly increased their level of physical fitness and endurance and also reduced training-induced muscular pain and oxidative stress.
“This study provides evidence that daily supplementation of Pycnogenol offers a natural approach to help reduce post-workout muscular pain, increase levels of physical performance and get you training again sooner,” said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, lead researcher of the study. “Pycnogenol, along with good training and proper nutrition, may help to significantly improve physical fitness and reduce oxidative stress and muscular pain in both those who exercise recreationally and triathletes.”
Nexira also recently conducted a sports nutrition study on 50 athletes, 25-45 years old, who took the company’s ViNitrox, a proprietary, synergistic combination of apple and grape polyphenols. Research indicated that under intensive effort, 500 mg/day of ViNitrox improved physical capabilities by increasing training time by 10% and delaying the fatigue barrier by 13%. Moreover, Nexira’s Mr. Dondain said an in vivo, placebo-controlled study showed ViNitrox decreased oxidative stress by 74% with no oxidative side effects (due to a potential excess of NO). “ViNitrox helps to prevent the development of peroxynitrites (ONOO), which are harmful free radicals,” he said.
Antioxidant blends in powdered green drink mixes, protein powder and meal replacement products have performed well of late, according to Future-Ceuticals’ Mr. Pond. “There is an increased recognition that antioxidants come from multiple sources (fruits and vegetables, teas and coffee),” he said. “We predict that whole foods that contain healthy levels of antioxidants in their natural matrix will increase in popularity.” In 2012, whole-food supplement sales topped $1.2 billion, up 12%, according to NBJ.
Like kale before it, Ecuadorian’s Mr. Siegel said cauliflower has been emerging as a popular whole-food ingredient source. “Cauliflower contains the antioxidant vitamin C, with one cup of raw cauliflower containing roughly 52 mg of the nutrient. In addition to providing a boon of antioxidant support, cauliflower also has glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing compound that aids the body in detoxification. Cauliflower also contains the essential mineral potassium. One cup of raw cauliflower contains about 320 mg of potassium. In the future, manufacturers of natural supplements will look toward foods such as cauliflower that offer a multitude of nutrients to meet the demand of consumers wanting more than just antioxidants.”
RFI recently added Black Garlic to its FermaPro line of products, according to Mr. Wuagneux. Black Garlic is regular garlic that has been fermented and aged, which turns the color from white to black and changes the flavor from pungent to sweet and savory. “The product is rich in specific antioxidants and boasts an ORAC value double that of regular garlic,” said Mr. Wuagneux. “The specific antioxidants include S-Allyl-cysteine (SAC), which is produced during the fermentation/aging process, and new compounds such as tetrahydro-beta-carbolines, which are structurally similar to flavonoids.”
SAC is the most studied compound found in black garlic, he continued, and its antioxidant properties have been reported in several studies to prevent lipid and protein oxidation and nitration, scavenging multiple types of free radicals (superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl and peroxynitrite radicals). “In addition, SAC has been shown to induce the endogenous antioxidant enzymes in the body such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD), and inhibit pro-oxidant enzymes such as nitric oxide synthase (NOS), xanthine oxidase (XO), NADPH oxidase and Cyclooxygenase (COX). Human studies have shown SAC to have blood-pressure lowering activity, immune enhancing properties and cholesterol-lowering activity,” he said.
Hamlet Chen, director of marketing at Green Wave Ingredients (GWI), La Mirada, CA, noted increased interest in L-gluthatione. “Some studies indicate that L-glutathione is one of the most effective antioxidants, which protects our body from hazards such as pollution, smoke, food chemicals and poisons. Because it protects our cells by attacking the free radicals from external poisons, the levels of L-glutathione in our blood has a great impact on our overall health.”
Form also plays an important function in a product’s success, said Mr. Chen. “The market for carotenoids doesn’t seem new, but if the solubility and bioavailability of the products can be improved, consumers will see better results and benefits from those innovative products, such as water-soluble forms of lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.
Caroline Brons, director of marketing, DSM Nutritional Products, said antioxidant forms have been an area of innovation of late. “Developing antioxidant forms that are clear in solution and organoleptically neutral (pleasant or no taste) provides significant advantages, specifically to beverage makers. DSM’s Vitamin E Crystal Clear, resVida resveratrol and Teavigo EGCG from green tea are examples of antioxidants that are clear in solution and don’t impart taste or color. For the dietary supplement segment, DSM offers Actilease, an innovative beadlet technology that allows for optimal protection and bioavailability of the carotenoids and antioxidants we offer.”
Ms. Brons noted that astaxanthin is a rapidly emerging antioxidant/carotenoid with unique cell membrane functions. “A growing body of scientific evidence shows that astaxanthin plays a role in supporting eye and heart health.” According to a recent consumer study by HealthFocus International (2013), Americans rank eye health among their top three health concerns, behind heart health and cognition.
“Astaxanthin is not made in the human body and is currently obtained almost exclusively from dietary sources such as salmon and crustaceans,” Ms. Brons continued. “Astaxanthin has a unique molecular structure that allows it to insert itself across the cell membrane bi-layer. This positioning also allows astaxanthin to complement the activities of other antioxidants, which are located at the surface of cell membranes to protect cells from harmful oxidation.”
DSM recently launched AstaSana astaxanthin, available for use in the human dietary supplement market. “AstaSana astaxanthin is an unesterified (free) form of astaxanthin. It is a nature-identical and bioavailable carotenoid nutrient, which combines the powerful advantages of its antioxidant potency with DSM’s quality and ability to provide a consistent global supply.”
Kathy Maurer, senior marketing manager at DSM noted that quality plays a starring role in the market today. “When choosing an ingredient supplier, it is important to understand their commitment to quality. DSM’s Quality for Life Program represents our commitment for best-in-class reliability, traceability and sustainability.”
According to Efrat Kat, sales and marketing director, Israel-based Algatechnologies, oxidative stress affects almost everybody, not just an aging population. “It is very important for everyone to keep a diet rich in antioxidants and to consume supplements with special antioxidants that are no longer available in our diet, such as natural astaxanthin.”
Consumers often prefer antioxidants derived from natural sources, she added, as opposed to artificial/synthetic. “In addition, the market tends to prefer products that are difficult to consume via a ‘normal diet,’ such as natural algae astaxanthin that can be found in wild salmon, but not in farmed fish.”
Recently, natural algae astaxanthin manufacturers Fuji Chemical Industry (AstaReal), Algatechnologies (AstaPure) and Cyanotech Corporation, (BioAstin) formed the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) dedicated to educating the public and dietary supplement industry about the health benefits of natural astaxanthin and differences between sources.
These three founding members said they welcome other algae-based astaxanthin producers to the association in the future. The main purpose is to increase consumer awareness of the health benefits of natural algae astaxanthin and to point out differences between natural and synthetic astaxanthin.
All indicators point to a growing antioxidants market, according to Nexira’s Mr. Dondain. “Consumers understand the overall health benefit of antioxidants and are already used to consuming antioxidants in food and/or dietary supplements. The popularity of the antioxidant market is thus undeniable. Condition-specific products will fuel the growth by helping consumers to understand the health benefit of specific antioxidants.”
All antioxidants are not equal, he added. “Certain antioxidants may play a greater role in preventing certain disease while others are better for skin rejuvenation. A better-informed consumer will consume more.”
In terms of targeting specific conditions, Sabinsa’s Dr. Pande said anti-aging and anti-glycation are currently drawing attention. “Protein oxidation is caused by free radicals and their toxic by-products attaching to the proteins that make up your body—from your cells’ DNA to muscle and organ proteins, brain proteins and artery proteins. It causes lethal mutations to DNA and damage to enzymes and other critical molecules that are essential to normal cell function. Compounds such as curcumin, selenium, gooseberry and grape seed extract can be effective in dealing with protein oxidation.”
Dr. Pande also noted that some antioxidants derived from traditional sources, such as amla (Indian gooseberry), have not received the acceptance that science might warrant due to poor standardization. “Though amla is known for its health benefits from Ayurvedic literature, its standardization has always been a source of dispute. While many product manufacturers are still standardizing amla using ascorbic acid or tannins, the emerging science on amla has shown a different biomarker compound, which can unlock the true potential of amla. Recent studies done by Sabinsa show the presence of a unique tannin called beta-glucogallin, which is a more appropriate biomarker for amla extract.”
DSM’s Ms. Brons noted that it’s important for companies to focus long term, and not get caught up on trending fads. “Some of the more exotic antioxidants can trend in and out very quickly, but antioxidant categories such as eye health and heart health are robust thanks to solid scientific substantiation, rising consumer awareness and true consumer belief in the added value of these essential antioxidant nutrients.”
Sean Moloughney is the editor of Nutraceuticals World. His e-mail address is email@example.com