Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

Brainy Ingredients Get Brawny

BEVERLY HILLS – An estimated 10 per cent of American adults have mood disorders — 21 million. Another five million have Alzheimer’s disease.

Interest in cognitive health is also expanding to the younger populations, ages 25—50 years. Many younger people are more receptive to ‘keeping their brain sharp’ as they find themselves taking care of an elderly parent suffering from age-related mental decline and realise that they might have a similar condition in a few decades.

One of the primary ingredients marketed for cognitive health is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Martek’s life’sDHA is used in many infant formulas for improved cognitive function (and eye health), and through this platform is finding a home elsewhere. Its success is demonstrated with Martek’s second quarter financial 2009 results, which showed revenues up two per cent to $92.4 million.

“Our success within the infant formula market has provided us credibility with the food companies. If we are good enough for babies, we must be good enough for the rest of the population,” says Sarah Sullivan, senior manager of marketing at Martek Biosciences. “We market DHA based on the available science. And because DHA has brain, eye and heart-health benefits, there are many directions we can go. Ultimately, it’s up to the CPG company and how they want to position the ingredient within their food. But, because there isn’t as much competition within the ‘brain-health’ space, we generally recommend that they go that route.”

Other ingredients are hopping on the DHA bandwagon. Ocean Nutrition Canada, a major supplier of fish oil, has partnered with Kyowa Hakko USA and its Cognizin ingredient, which is GRAS and water-soluble.

Functional ingredients

Citicoline

Cocoa

Curcumin

Eleuthero

Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA)

Ginkgo biloba

Huperzia serrata

L-carnitine

L-theanine

L-tyrosine

Melatonin

Omega-3 DHA

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Pomegranate

St John’s wort

Turmeric

Vinpocetine

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

“We wanted to leverage both companies’ ingredients for brain health,” says Karen E Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. “We have found that Cognizin not only supports memory function and healthy cognition, but crosses over many functions — increasing levels of critical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine, enhancing cellular integrity by increasing phospholipids synthesis, and supporting cellular activity by increasing levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).”

Chemi Nutra combined omega-3 fatty acids with phosphatidylserine (PS) to form a new offering. “OmegaAid PS is the natural evolution of combining marine-sourced omega-3 fatty acids with PS, utilizing Chemi’s proprietary manufacturing expertise, and supported by Chemi’s numerous patents,” says Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra and Chemi Pharma.

Hagerman says the company works to leverage market interest into successful new ingredients. “We first look at market attractiveness, long-term prospects of selling, production capabilities and, finally, patent opportunities, since we have to make substantial investments in identifying and developing new ingredient product opportunities.”

One new entrant to the field is Vivimind by Ovos Natural Health. The ingredient, derived from homotaurine found in seaweed, has a great deal of research behind it, on more than 2,000 individuals. It is set to launch in the US market by the end of the year.

“Vivimind has received scientific support and has been embraced by consumers in the Canadian market since its launch in September 2008,” says Jim Stitley, general manager of US commercial operations for Ovos.

Other emerging ingredients include vinpocetine, curcumin and turmeric. And — surprise, surprise — vitamin D. A May 2009 study in Europe of more than 3,000 men aged 40-79 found those with high vitamin D levels performed better on memory and information processing tes