Pioneering performance: The functional ingredients and products blazing new trails in nutrition
25 May 2023 --- Consumers are increasingly seeking offerings to increase their performance abilities. The market for new solutions in these areas continues to grow from sports and cognitive performance to healthy aging and vitality. NutritionInsight sits down with three companies – Gencor, Kaneka Nutrients and Givaudan – to discuss the products and ingredients blazing new trails in human performance.
“We have several ingredients that address multiple areas of performance,” Maggie McNamara, Gencor’s marketing director, tells us. “The performance areas include recovery from activity and toxins, joint health, muscle soreness and sleep and stress. While the last two aren’t typically included in the performance, they are critical for the best physical and mental performance.”
Speaking about the company’s “vitality” ingredient, Ubiquinol, at Vitafoods Europe, Filip Van hulle, the general manager at Kaneka Nutrients Europe, states: “I think it’s maybe one of the best-kept secrets so far.”
Also at Vitafoods Europe, we spoke with Mieke Acda, the regional product manager at Givaudan and Romain Le Cozzannet, the company’s clinical research investigator, about Givaudan’s latest cognitive performance adaptogen ingredient, Cereboost.
“We know that a lot of European consumers are looking for better focus and attention and we have a solution,” Acda affirms. “So we developed an app, because the main challenge with consumers is that they don’t know if the product really works and they may not trust the efficacy of the specific products. So we have an app available for consumers to test their focus, attention, memory and accuracy.”
According to Innova Market Insights, the sports and active nutrition segments have continued to show stable growth, with low sugar claims and vegan and vegetarian options rising considerably from 2018 to 2022. Moreover, product launches with active nutrition claims experienced a year-over-year 8% increase from Q4 2017 to Q3 2022.
McNamara highlights two specific Gencor offerings – Levagen+ and HydroCurc – noting that the palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) in Levagen+ has been clinically shown to enhance muscle regeneration and repair, reduce exercise-induced inflammation, aid recovery, decrease muscle soreness and improve sleep.
Additionally, he explains that the company’s cold-water dispersible and highly bioavailable curcumin extract HydroCurc has been clinically shown to decrease soreness, improve recovery, reduce lactic acid levels post-exercise, reduce joint pain and discomfort and support overall joint health.
Regarding the distinguishing qualities of these two products, McNamara says they “utilize patented technology which improves their bioavailability and solubility compared to other ingredients.”
“The improvement in solubility opens the door to formulating finished products in a much broader range beyond traditional tablets and capsules, such as shots, powders, gummies, gels and others.”
Similarly, Van hulle touts the “vitality” effects of Kaneka’s ubiquinol ingredient. “Ubiquinol is a vitality ingredient and is actually a crucial component in the body that is needed for solid energy and as a fat-soluble antioxidant. It’s really working inside the mitochondria.”
Concentrating on cognition
Product launches with cognitive support claims in sports nutrition and supplements increased 2% year-over-year growth when comparing 2021 and 2022, according to Innova.
Acda emphasizes Cereboost’s cognition-boosting appeal across generational lines, such as active consumers who are over 55 to Millennial and Gen Z esports enthusiasts.
“We all have these different types of active lifestyles and we looked into the needs of these segments and found that they all would like to have better cognitive performance,” she explains. “However, some of their needs can be a little bit different. It can be a reduction of stress, more energy and less fatigue or it can be having a better mood.”
“I think we have to get back to the roots of what is memory and what do we need memory for,” Le Cozzannet underscores. “Memory is action. Whatever you do in life, it is because of your memory. When you go back home, it is because you remember the path to go down – that’s memory.
He continues: “If you go play a sport, a game or anything, you need to have reaction time. You need faster reaction time and more accuracy – that’s action. That is what we improve with Cereboost.”
Focus on format
Van hulle highlights some of the new formats ubiquinol is becoming available in as opposed to the original soft, liquid-filled capsule that the company started with 15 years ago.
“The first stage of ubiquinol was mainly in soft capsules or liquid-filled caps, but we see now more and more other formats opening, such as energy bars and powdered sticks,” he elaborates. “We also have a chewable gummy combination with collagen for postmenopausal women.”
“But we think that ubiquinol is not only about healthy aging,” he continues. “There are many, many applications and we think that ubiquinol is a product that should be included in all possible formulas and combinations. We have data that shows with a 100 mg dose per day, people feel an energizing effect.”
Gencor further notes that the trends in performance supplements and ingredients are migrating toward more “lifestyle-friendly” delivery methods.
“With the technology mentioned with regards to HydroCurc and Levagen+, formulators can now create gels for use while in activity as tablets and capsules are not easily consumed in the ‘heat of the moment’ or an RDT shot or stick pack,” says McNamara. “These fit easily into everyday lifestyles and are a growing trend in active and sports performance categories.”
“Consumer demand and the need to stand out in the crowd drive this change,” McNamara concludes. “The next innovation will be combining unique ingredients with differing mechanisms of action to achieve a better result from a finished product.”
“An example would be the clinical studies done with HydroCurc and Levagen+ and combining them into one finished product. Their mechanisms of action are different, and they both have superior solubility and bioavailability. This offers the consumer a unique lifestyle-friendly product with two ingredients and varying action mechanisms.”
By William Bradford Nichols
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