Products today offer a wide variety of brain health benefits, including memory support, stress relief, mental sharpness, etc. However, research demonstrating the benefits of active ingredients is still developing. Packaged Facts indicated that where other ingredients (such as glucosamine for joint health or omega-3s for heart disease) benefit from a wide breadth of research, science backing brain health products is playing catch-up.
Feed Your Head
“The brain makes up about 3% of total body weight, yet it uses around 20% of the body’s energy,” said Brenda Fonseca, MA, global cognition technical services manager for Kemin, Des Moines, IA. “With around 86 billion neurons and trillions of connections, it’s easy to understand why a healthy diet is essential for a healthy brain.”
Proper nutrition to support brain development is particularly vital in the earliest stages of life, noted Tom Druke, director of VitaCholine brand development, Balchem Human Nutrition and Pharma, New Hampton, NY. “What many people don’t know is that brain health is similar to bone health in many ways. The developmental years are about building a strong foundation and then the focus moves to maintaining and optimizing the systems as we age.”
Dr. Andreas Berg Storsve, director of research and development for Olso, Norway-based Aker BioMarine, echoed this sentiment, underscoring the cumulative benefits of a healthy diet for long-term brain health and development. “Nourishing your brain with good food is essential,” he said, “and in fact, research has shown that those who consumed mainly an unhealthy diet during most of their younger years had approximately twice the rate of cognitive decline than those who ate a balanced diet.”
Mr. Druke stressed that optimal nutrition during fetal development and through the toddler years is acutely important for future memory development and cognitive function. “Two key nutrients that play a role in these early years are choline and DHA [docosahexaenoic acid], which during the prenatal period help form neuronal cell membranes. In fact, research by Marie Caudill of the Cornell Division of Nutritional Sciences has shown that these nutrients are highly synergistic and that women’s bodies undergo changes during pregnancy to optimize the enrichment of phosphatidylcholine with DHA.”
Research on phosphatidylcholine published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests the phospholipid may offer long-term benefits to memory and cognitive health by assisting the formation of healthy cell membranes (West A et al., 2013), cited Mr. Druke. Likewise, he pointed to the importance of folic acid, which is also critical during pregnancy, to support the proper development and closure of the neural tube, and is the basis for the formation of a healthy brain and spinal cord.
When it comes to adults, choline provides benefits for mental focus and memory. “As one of the key components of the primary neurotransmitter acetylcholine (the other being Acetyl coenzyme A), choline contributes to messaging within the brain and throughout the neuromuscular junction,” said Mr. Druke. “Think of it as an instant messenger for the body, speeding signals throughout the brain and activating the muscles. As we age, reduced availability of acetylcholine makes it even more important to ensure adequate choline intake in order to maintain optimal neurotransmission.”
Robert Price, North American product manager nutritional ingredients, Mitsubishi International Food Ingredients, Inc., Dublin, OH, agreed that DHA and phosphatidylcholine, as well as arachidonic acid, are important to maintaining memory and cognitive function. He also discussed the benefits of gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly referred to as GABA. “GABA supports the balance of the autonomic nervous system (stress response) and parasympathetic nervous system (rest, relax, and restore) to alleviate excessive tension and stress typical of an imbalance in daily life. Balance of these two systems is important both during short term periods of chronic stress, and in the longer term.”
Dr. Storsve linked health advice for the heart with that for the brain, suggesting “what is good for our hearts is also good for our heads.” Foods and nutrients promoting cardiovascular health also help enhance brain function and performance, he said, and this is particularly true for diets rich in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet—well-known for its benefits for cardiovascular health—is omega-3s, with emerging research suggesting this way of eating also benefits the mind. The diet consists of unsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, nuts, fish, and polyphenols from plants, explained Yannick Capelle, product technical manager, Health, for Israel-based Frutarom.
Mr. Capelle highlighted the benefits of polyphenols, micronutrients from plant-based food, that benefit the brain with their ability to scavenge free radicals, reduce inflammation, support healthy blood vessels, and boost immunity. Flavonoids, a family of polyphenolic compounds, have been linked to benefits for cognitive function, he said, citing the flavonol quercetin from Ginkgo biloba as a prime ingredient to boost the brain.
Science director for Alpharetta, GA-based TR Nutritionals, Deanne Dolnick, pointed to benefits from another diet plan, referencing a “breakthrough” study published in 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia titled “MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.” The study examined the MIND Diet, which is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. “To summarize, the diet recommends 10 ‘brain healthy’ food groups that help protect against Alzheimer’s: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries (specifically blueberries), beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine,” explained Ms. Dolnick.
In this study, participants who rigorously adhered to the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53%, while moderate adherence led to a 35% reduction in risk. The research was celebrated for the idea that even modest adjustments to one’s diet could yield significant reduction in AD risk. “This diet is about a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fats, whole grains, and proteins,” said Ms. Dolnick. “It is pretty basic stuff.”
Ms. Fonseca said it is well-established that diets rich in fruits and vegetables benefit brain health, and referenced research linking five daily portions with higher cognitive scores (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2009). She added, “Research also indicates that these positive effects on cognitive health and performance from diets rich in fruits and vegetables may be attributed to bioactive phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, or polyphenols such as anthocyanins found in blueberries, cocoa flavonols, or phenolic acids found in spearmint.”
Fruits and vegetables—including leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, and peppers—are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. “Lutein has been identified for its important role in both eye and brain health,” said Ms. Fonseca. “The connection between eye and brain tissue makes physiological sense, as well as the common potential for oxidative stress and antioxidant need. Studies indicate that lutein concentration in the eye, as measured by macular pigment optical density, is significantly correlated with lutein concentration in the brain (Nutritional Neuroscience, 2013) and with cognitive function (Age and Ageing, 2014; Neurobiology of Aging, 2014; Neurobiology of Aging, 2013).”
Lesser known phenolic constituents such as salvianolic, lithospermic, caftaric acid, and rosmarinic acid have also been linked to improving cognitive function, with research finding they provide antioxidant support, promote new neuron growth, increase levels of acetylcholine, and protect nerve cells, added Ms. Fonseca.
Polyphenols found in the whole coffee cherry (not just the bean) have been shown to help stimulate the production of a key neuro-protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), noted Andrew Wheeler, director of marketing, FutureCeuticals, Momence, IL. “BDNF is a protein active in the brain, central, and peripheral nervous system, and is important for a variety of processes, including learning, memory, alertness, mood, and controlling both body weight and energy metabolism. As we age, many of us begin to lose this key neuro-protein that supports our brain,” he said.
Mitch Skop, senior director for Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Kearny, NJ, referenced emerging research indicating many brain health issues begin in the gut. “Depression, anxiety, and other conditions may actually be due to poor digestion,” he said. Pharmachem offers a casein decapeptide ingredient that studies have shown helps combat the depleting effects of stress (mental stress, situational stress), provides mood stability, and also promotes more restful sleep. Mr. Skop also pointed to B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and magnesium as essential for helping to support healthy brain structure and activity.
Curcumin, the chief chemical constituent present in turmeric (Curcuma longa), is a phytonutrient known to possess “brain-protective power” in several ways, explained Shaheen Majeed, worldwide president, Sabinsa, East Windsor, NJ. “A number of studies have proved its positive effects on brain health, including protection against cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s (Esmaily et al., 2015; Panahi et al., 2015; Ringman et al., 2012).” He also highlighted other herbal solutions for improving brain function, including Bacopa monnieri, ashwagandha, Ginkgo biloba, and ginseng.
Other brain nutrients like citicoline are made naturally within the body, stated Elyse Lovett, marketing manager, Kyowa Hakko U.S.A., Inc., New York, NY. Citicoline, she explained, has been found to increase phosphatidylcholine in the brain. However, the typical American diet is lacking in this nutrient (and many others), so “supplementation can be beneficial for brain health,” keeping supplement users’ minds sharp and focused.
Aging consumers hoping to delay cognitive decline are still the dominant buyer of brain health products. However, a younger demographic appears interested and engaged in using supplements designed for mental focus and acuity.
In a survey of U.S. consumers in 2017, Innova Market insights found 73% of those 55 years old and up, 44% of those 46-55, 39% of those 36-45, and 40% of those 26-35, reported being very/extremely concerned about brain health.
“Not too long ago, pretty much the sole group using supplements for brain health were the folks who were concerned about risk of developing age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” said Mr. Skop of Pharmachem. “This consumer still exists, and is typically those who are in their late 40s through 60s, and especially those who have had an older relative suffer from such dramatic and painful decline.”
Mr. Skop pointed to interest from another group of consumers who are the “polar opposite” of these aging users. These consumers are younger, and are looking for support while studying or working long hours, and are seeking cognitive energy. Burnout, from demanding jobs and life responsibilities, is also motivating younger consumers to seek supplemental support, Mr. Skop explained.
Hectic lifestyles—complete with mental stress and distraction—along with age-related memory decline, are all driving sales in the brain health category, according to Mr. Majeed of Sabinsa. He cited sales data from Acute Market Reports (April, 2017), which predicted the global brain health supplements market is expected to reach $11.6 billion by 2024, up from $2.3 billion reported in 2015, and expanding at a CAGR of 19.6% from 2016 to 2024. “Both old and young consumers alike are taking interest in arming themselves with brain health supplements,” he said. “Growing awareness among college students, scientists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and the active elderly in developed nations as to the importance of a healthy brain in tackling everyday stress, to boost memory, and improve focus, is the key factor behind steady growth in sales.”
Alan Rillorta, director of marketing for AIDP, City of Industry, CA, which offers the magnesium l-threonate ingredient Magtein, believes younger consumers should be more tuned into cognitive health, with good reason. “In truth, the brain begins to lose elasticity—which affects brain function—beginning as early as age 25,” he cautioned. “Factors like stress, environmental pollutants and digital stimulation all bombard us starting early in life. It’s never too early to think about supplementing your diet with high quality nutrients.”
Expectant mothers are another group tapping into supplements for brain health, as certain nutrients are especially beneficial for fetal brain development.
“As far as omega-3s are concerned, we need them for our entire life to help keep our brains healthy, starting as early as pregnancy,” explained Dr. Storsve of Aker BioMarine. “DHA is an important nutrient for pregnant and nursing women, especially since the developing brain of the baby rapidly grows during the third trimester.”
During early childhood, periods of rapid brain growth and development also call for support from omega-3 DHA. “Omega-3 deficiency has a profound impact on brain health at every age and insufficiencies can disturb the process of brain development. Studies have concluded that children and adolescents who have trouble concentrating often have low amounts of omega-3s in their bodies. Conversely, research suggests that children who obtain omega-3s from diet and supplementation are more likely to experience positive behavior, high levels of concentration and successful learning patterns,” explained Dr. Storsve.
Balchem’s Mr. Druke added, “During pregnancy, moms want to ensure the best possible start for their children so they focus on prenatal nutrition and supplementation.” Choline, he said, is essential during early childhood development.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, women entering menopause report experiencing “brain fog” because reduced estrogen levels can lead to a diminished capacity for endogenous choline production, explained Mr. Druke. “This makes them a logical candidate for supplementation since most adults, and particularly women, don’t get enough choline via diet alone.”
Additionally, Mr. Druke noted an emerging and interesting group seeking brain boosting products: gamers. Young adults involved in video gaming or gaming tournaments are often looking for a competitive edge to help them perform at a high level. “Choline is increasingly becoming a key player here as well. In a study published in the journal Nature (Naber M. et. al., 2015), researchers examined the impact of choline on mental focus by having participants perform a simple aim-and-click task on a computer. The participants who received supplemental choline in the form of choline bitartrate significantly improved accuracy by making modest reductions in speed versus the control group that took a placebo. These results suggest that choline plays a role in mental sharpness and focus when we are performing tasks that require both speed and attention to detail.”
More traditional gamers—athletes—are also buying into the market. Interest in products for mental energy and focus are in growing demand, said Kyowa Hakko’s Ms. Lovett, particularly among active users within the sports nutrition category. “Focus and mental energy are key aspects in sports nutrition, whether its full focus during your best golf game, or mind over matter when crossing the finish line in a race, to the mental energy needed in the most strenuous workout program.”
Supplement users seeking support for mental health concerns and mood are increasingly looking for natural products for a boost. In recent years, Sabinsa’s Mr. Majeed observed an increase in nutritional products positioned for reducing stress, increasing concentration level, elevating mood, and protecting against conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Combining the needs of sports nutrition users and mood health supplement users, Mr. Wheeler of FutureCeuticals observed what he coined the “lifestyle athlete.” This group, he said, “is a major demographic that has embraced and merged mental wellness along with physical fitness seeking brain-wellness products in the areas of focus, mood, and sleep. Ingredients that are getting more play in sports nutrition are those that promote better focus and concentration; reduce feelings of distress and anxiety; and aid in sleep.”
A recent Kemin Health-commissioned Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) study found that traditional formats for dietary supplements such as capsules, tablets, and soft gels, as well as modern formats such as chews, gummies, ready-to-drink beverage shots and bars were popular among consumers.
Conventionally, brain health supplements have been supplied in the form of pills, tablets, powders, capsules, and soft gels, Mr. Majeed observed. However, today purchasing decisions influenced by taste, convenience, and ease of use are driving category innovation, leading to formats such as “gummies and flavored shakes to make consumption of such supplements easier and pleasurable.”
Modern manufacturing techniques and sophisticated flavor technologies have helped companies deliver efficacious ingredients in food and beverages. People are looking to diversify the ways in which they meet their nutritional objectives, said Mr. Skop. “Although most people are fine with swallowing some pills daily, the more supplements they want to take for health promotion, the more they are seeking other sources,” he stated. “Gummies and chews and hard candies such as Somnia (our prototype with honey flavor) provide appealing alternatives, as do beverages.”
Ms. Lovett with Kyowa Hakko, agreed that beverages are an appealing and easy delivery format, but she believes transparency and proven results are paramount. “Knowing the ingredient list, and where the ingredients are coming from, and how well they are researched is gaining more and more traction for consumers.”
Packaged Facts reported the top manufacturer/marketer in the cognitive health category was Quincy Bioscience, with its Prevagen supplement. The company experienced growth of 157% in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2016. Additionally, the supplement reportedly earned $165 million in U.S. sales between 2007 and mid 2015.
Prevagen is a dietary supplement designed to help with “mild memory problems associated with aging,” according to the company. The product features active ingredients apoaequorin, a protein found in jellyfish, and vitamin D.
In early 2017 a complaint by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was filed with the Federal Trade Commission against Quincy Bioscience, alleging marketing for Prevagen violated federal and state deceptive advertising laws, and targeted elderly consumers.
While the case was ultimately dismissed, the lawsuit raised concerns about the validity of the science backing the product, and the legitimacy of the claims.
Packaged Facts suggested that high profile cases shining a light on questionable product claims could slow sales growth for other competitors within the category. Nonetheless, the research firm noted success for other cognitive brands such as Neurobrands (with its Neuro drink line) and Factor Nutrition Labs (with its Focus Factor and FocusFactor for Kids dietary supplements), and suggested that other companies may be able to stake their claim in the category so long as consumer interest is maintained.
However, Neurobrands also faced a civil complaint against its Neuro drink line of functional beverages, with drinks that claimed to support memory, healthy aging, mental energy, sustained focus and more. The company was forced to change its marketing practices and pay $500,000 in penalties and restitution in a settlement. Similar to the complaint against Quincy Bioscience, the court questioned Neurobrands’ science backing its claims.
Despite high profile brands facing regulatory scrutiny, the market for brain health products continues to grow.
In October 2017, Neurella, Clifton, NJ, introduced a new supplement designed to support memory and focus, featuring 12 active ingredients including Cognizin Citicoline, Sensoril ashwagandha root and leaf extract, Huperzine-A Huperzia serrata leaf extract, C3 turmeric root extract, and grape skin extract. Neurella claims to fuel and support key brain chemicals or neurotransmitters involved in energy production and communication; improve and regulate brain function over the short- and long-term; and protect nerve cells from wear and tear.
Jarrow Formulas, Los Angeles, CA, expanded on its existing product containing the naturally occurring phospholipid PS (phosphatidylserine) for brain and memory support, with the addition of a supplement combining PS with PA (phosphatidic acid). Launched in 2015, Jarrow stated PS-PA Synergy is “clinically demonstrated to support a healthy stress response via adrenal-pituitary function by moderating the release of cortisol, a catabolic stress hormone.”
In 2016, Jarrow Formulas also introduced a new line of gummy supplements, with one product, Theanine Gummies, providing 100 mg of amino acid Suntheanine L-theanine in each sugar-free, apple-flavored gummy. The product aims to support benefits for “learning and calmness” for children ages eight and up.
The popular OLLY brand also offers a chewable gummy supplement, Goodbye Stress, featuring GABA to “boost alpha brain waves to promote relaxation and help combat the acute effects of stress,” L-theanine “to support alpha waves that help you keep cool,” along with lemon balm, an herb “that has been used for centuries to help quiet the mind.” Available in Berry Verbena flavor, the company claims users can feel fast-working results within 30-60 minutes after consumption.
FoodState’s MegaFood brand offers “B-Centered” formulas for adults and children, claiming to support healthy cognitive function. Adult B-Centered is a traditional tablet featuring folate, vitamins B12 and B6; Bacopa to support “cognitive function including memory and learning capacity, as well as the body’s response to stress”; L-theanine for relaxation and focus; and lemon balm “to soothe occasional restlessness.” The company’s Kids Daily B-Centered Nutrient Booster Powder is a multivitamin and herbal formula in a powder format, designed for inclusion in a smoothie, shake, or juice.
A new supplement specifically designed to appeal to video game enthusiasts looking for a boost is GodMode, from Boss Level Labs. Positioned as a “hack” for gamers looking to get a competitive edge, the supplement includes ingredients such as Yamabushitake, a type of medicinal mushroom, CDP choline, acetyl-L-carnitine, betalains; theanine; caffeine; lithium orotate; and the bioavailability enhancer BioPerine.
Consumers Seeking Science
Consumers want scientifically validated products. As interest in brain health supplements continues to expand, more research is exploring the benefits of nutritional intervention for concerns such as brain function, cognition, mood, memory, and more.
The Lancet Neurology recently published results of the European LipiDiDiet clinical trial examining people with prodromal Alzheimer’s (the pre-dementia stage of this disease) to see if intervention with a once-daily medical nutrition drink could benefit participants. Over 24 months, 311 patients across 11 sites in four countries (Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden) were randomized to receive Fortasyn Connect, a combination of active nutrients in a once daily 125 ml medical nutrition drink (called Souvenaid), or an iso-caloric control drink. Fortasyn Connect contains a combination of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, choline, uridine monophosphate, phospholipids, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
While participants receiving the nutritional drink did not improve performance on a specific neuropsychological test battery (NTB), they did show a significant stabilization in everyday cognitive and functional performance, as well as reduced brain shrinkage.
Commenting on the study, Professor Tobias Hartmann, the project’s coordinator, said: “While this nutritional intervention is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, it effectively shows that the earlier in the disease process we intervene, the greater the advantage for the patient. Importantly, reduced atrophy in the patient’s brain shows that the benefit extends beyond symptomatic effects, something never before achieved.”
A 2017 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that daily consumption of the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries (given as 24 g of freeze dried powder), positively benefited cognitive function compared to a placebo. The trial was conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Over 90 days, 13 healthy men and 24 healthy women between the ages of 60-75 received either a placebo or freeze-dried Highbush blueberry powder daily. Results found that the blueberry-supplemented participants had significantly fewer repetition errors compared to the placebo group in the California Verbal Learning Test (CLVT), a neuropsychological test assessing verbal memory abilities.
Discussing the science supporting Lactium casein decapeptide, Pharmachem’s Mr. Skop pointed to a 2006 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which examined the anti-stress efficacy of Lactium in women who considered themselves suffering from stress. The double-blind, cross-over study was conducted over a 30-day period on 63 female volunteers showing at least one stress symptom. “Those receiving Lactium (150 mg/day) reported a significantly greater improvement in stress symptoms (vs. placebo) in the following areas: digestive, intellectual, social, cardiovascular, and emotional. The effect of Lactium was greater in subjects having a high intensity score for a major symptom at the beginning of the study.”
Sleep improvement was the goal of another Lactium study. This trial was conducted on 44 healthy men and women with difficulty sleeping, with subjects given 150 mg of Lactium per day for four weeks. “Results showed that Lactium improves sleep duration and efficiency, especially in those individuals with a moderate anxiety or depression profile. Lactium was also shown to reduce daytime sleepiness (The Open Sleep Journal, 2009),” said Mr. Skop.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines demonstrated that AstaReal Astaxanthin was effective against both mental and physical fatigue. The study is believed to be the first clinical trial demonstrating that a nutraceutical ingredient has properties effective against both physical and mental fatigue, the company said.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, individuals consumed AstaReal Astaxanthin twice daily for eight weeks (12 mg/day). The study was designed to induce fatigue and stress similar to that encountered in daily life. For the mental challenge, individuals had to perform a battery of timed calculations that evaluate concentration and mental clarity. The physical component was performed using a bicycle ergometer. Both subjective and objective metrics of fatigue were assessed before and after the stressor tests.
Examining the study’s results, Karen Hecht, PhD, scientific affairs manager for AstaReal USA, Moses Lake, WA, explained “Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) analysis showed that AstaReal Astaxanthin significantly reduced perceived symptoms of mental and physical fatigue compared to the placebo. These included improvements in cognitive acuity, concentration, motivation, and mood. Irritation and feeling of body heaviness were noticeably reduced. In the calculation test, a significant increase in errors observed in the placebo during the second half of the test was not observed in the astaxanthin group. Supplementation with astaxanthin also significantly reduced salivary cortisol, a biomarker of stress.”
Conducted in 2017, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 142 healthy and active subjects indicated supplementation with Kemin’s Neumentix, a proprietary spearmint-based ingredient, led to improved sustained attention.
“These statistically significant effects compared to placebo were observed as early as 30 days following daily supplementation with 900 mg of Neumentix and these significant improvements were still present after 90 days of supplementation,” noted Kim Colletti, MBA, global cognition product manager with KEMIN.
A longitudinal study published in Neurobiology of Ageing, found that higher levels of DHA were associated with a reduced rate of cortical thinning in the temporal cortex, an area crucial for memory functioning, across the adult lifespan, explained Aker BioMarine’s Dr. Storsve. “A central challenge in neuroscience research is to understand why some people’s brains age gracefully whereas others decline rapidly, and this study clearly suggests that omega-3 intake is an important factor in explaining inter-individual variability in cognitive decline.”
Dr. Storsve added that a recent article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found a positive connection between omega-3 EPA+DHA status, brain perfusion, and cognition. “This research shows a relationship between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression, and dementia,” he stated. “Furthermore, relatively higher proportions of EPA+DHA in red blood cell membranes (i.e., a higher Omega-3 Index) has been found to predict greater hippocampal volume, a key structure for the acquisition of new memories and retrieval of old episodic memories.”
In order to increase the awareness of omega-3s across all age groups, Aker BioMarine is sponsoring a comprehensive research study with scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the National Institutes of Health evaluating the effects of krill oil omega-3s on the resilience and performance of students at the U.S. Army Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course and the U.S. Army Ranger Training School. “The goal of the study, which is expected to be completed in March 2018, is to determine whether krill oil concentrate can improve the cognitive processes underlying performance of students in the U.S. Army,” noted Dr. Storsve. “Through these types of studies, it is our goal to inspire younger generations to think about the factors that impact their cognitive and physical health at an early stage and to actively pursue a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
As the global population continues to age, experts predicted the brain health category will continue to grow. However, Mr. Wheeler of FutureCeuticals warned “bad press, congressional investigations, and eroding consumer trust” could impact sales.
Yet, he predicted natural botanical ingredients that showcase their safety and transparency to consumers will continue to move the market forward and rebuild consumer trust. “Human research is and always will be the key, and in this case must be the shared standard when using any cognition claim. I think we will see some substantial scientific progress in the next year regarding actual human cognitive support.”
The growing demand for personalized nutrition will become more and more important to consumers, Dr. Storsve concluded, “and achieving a greater understanding of the needs of the individual at different stages of life will be a central focus for us moving forward.”
MoodEats nutritional bars aim to help consumers associate how they eat with how they feel.
A new mood oriented wellness product, MoodEats, has positioned itself as a unique nutritional bar leveraging scientifically backed ingredients to support good mental health.
The company’s founder, Wendy Wolfson, a psychiatrist who practices in New York and Connecticut, sought to create a convenient and accessible way to drive home to her patients that eating food that was good for them could help them feel good too.
This approach, she said, is referred to as nutritional psychiatry. “Nutritional psychiatry is a field of medicine that explores the link between what you eat, how you feel, how you act, and what your diet does to your brain, and providing scientific evidence to support it. While most people realize that there are foods that boost your mood (hello coffee) and make you feel good (hello chocolate), they don’t necessarily know why. It helps if you think about your brain as the engine that never stops (even while you’re sleeping) and food as the fuel that drives that engine. Simply put, the better the fuel, the better the output.”
She advises patients eat foods full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a more efficient, well-nourished brain. Conversely, she warned a diet of processed or refined foods, or one that is high in sugar, could lead to feelings of sluggishness, thanks to inflammation and cell-damaging free radicals.
In an attempt to treat the “whole patient” Dr. Wolfson began incorporating nutritional and fitness counseling in her medical practice. However, she found patients had a difficult time following through with these lifestyle adjustments when they didn’t feel well.
This was the inspiration behind her MoodEats bars. While Dr. Wolfson emphasized that these bars are not meant to be a replacement for medicine, she said her goal was to develop a bar that can be “a tool to educate everyone about the mood-food connection and help jump-start a change in the way we think about our diet.”
Currently, the line features two flavors: Banana Chocolate and Berry Green Tea. Key ingredients include grass-fed whey protein, which contains all the amino acids necessary to build neurotransmitters (the mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine); dates, which are high amino acids, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and phenolic compounds; and cashew butter, which is high in tryptophan, magnesium, B6, and zinc. Cocoa chips offer magnesium and flavanols, while cherries, bananas, honey, kale, blueberries, flaxseed, coconut oil and more, round out the unique formula.
“I think the most important mistake is that many people don’t make the connection that diet affects how they feel,” said Dr. Wolfson. “Most people understand this when it comes to heart disease, cholesterol, and diabetes, but not when it comes mood. I think the other mistake that people make is not putting their diets first. The brain is the highest consumer of nutrients and it needs to be ‘fed’ at all times.”