Consumers tend to think of health and wellness as a physical concern, however, an increasing number of consumers also are paying attention to the longevity of their minds. In response, ingredient companies have created solutions to span age groups that incorporate the benefits of fatty acids, antioxidants and botanicals among other categories.
“The continuing consumer focus on drinking healthfully and being fit has moved from simply using natural or organic ingredients to using ingredients that naturally contain the compound which provide the consumer with the positive effects they are looking for,” Gary Vorsheim, director of extract sales for Martin Bauer Group, Secaucus, N.J.
In addition to appealing to an aging population, brain health has become a concern affecting more than just consumers who are older than the age of 50.
“We have got to protect as much as we can,” says Ram Chaudhari, chief scientific officer for Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y. “There are food ingredients that you can design in such a way that it will improve the cognitive function and keep you healthy. Even though as we age, we always have neuron depletion, but at least you can minimize it to have a better quality life.”
For each age group, the goals for cognitive health formulations vary. For example, a teenager might search for a product that helps with mental focus for long periods of studying, while a baby boomer might look to curtail cognitive degeneration. In response, ingredient suppliers have created a variety of solutions, formulations and combinations that appeal to the wide age ranges that are interested in improving their cognitive abilities.
Kyowa Hakko USA, New York, offers its branded ingredient Cognizin Citicoline that has been clinically shown to support mental energy, focus, attention and recall, the company says. Cognizin helps with cell integrity and signaling as well as increases choline and phosphatidylserine levels, says Karen Todd, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko.
“It’s a multi-benefit type of ingredient for brain health,” Todd says. “Cognizin increases blood flow - gingko does that to some extent as well. It also decreases oxidative stress and fatty acids, and those are linked to increased plaques that form in the brain.”
Studies on Cognizin have found that the ingredient improves performance, increases concentration, focus and accuracy, Todd says. These benefits can be useful for a product aimed at athletes, she says.
Kyowa Hakko’s latest research has found that pre-menopausal women are increasingly interested in brain health, Todd says. The company has found its ingredient has applications for any audience that is trying to maintain brain health for as long as possible, she says.
“Those [people who] are just starting to see, ‘Hey, my parents are aging and they are going through this, and this could probably happen to me later on, so what can I do now to help them, but also with myself, what can I do to preserve my memory or my mind for the future?’” Todd explains. “I see two distinct target markets - it’s the baby boomer for sure, but it’s also that younger adult that is a big category and is growing as well.”
Cognizin is a neutral-tasting ingredient that is stable and can be incorporated into a variety of products, including beverages, Todd says. Cognizin can be formulated into both ready-to-drink beverages and powdered drinks. The ingredient is included in Nawgan, a ready-to-drink beverage developed by Dr. Robert Paul, a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist.
Nawgan Products LLC, Chesterfield, Mo., formulated the beverage with lycopene for anti-inflammatory protection, vitamin E for antioxidant benefits, alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline and Cognizin citicoline to improve memory and cognitive skills. The beverage is available in non-caffeinated and caffeinated versions. According to the company, the caffeinated version offers the neuroprotective properties of caffeine, which have been shown in scientific literature.
During the past few years, consumers have continued to become more aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been purported to have coronary as well as cognitive health benefits. Due to the increase in popularity, ingredient suppliers have created products that allow for improved incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids. Ocean Nutrition Canada offers MEG-3 fish oil powder that has a carbohydrate layer that overlaps its existing double-shell technology. MEG-3 fish oil powder can be incor-porated into powdered beverage mixes in a variety of beverage categories, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based company says.
DSM Nutritional Products Inc., Parsippany, N.J., offers a line of omega-3 LC PUFA fish oils, which are known to improve cognitive function, play a role in cognition for an aging population and an integral part of brain health for infants and children. The fish oil undergoes a deodorization process and is stabilized with a patented, multi-component antioxidant system, says Lynda Doyle, marketing director, new nutritional ingredients and dietary supplements, for the company.
The line of omega-3 LC PUFA ingredients is best suited for dairy-based drinks, Doyle says. DSM Nutritional Products offers a ROPUFA 15 percent emulsion that was developed specifically for use in milk and dairy-based beverages. Due to its important role in the development of the brain in infants, omega-3 fatty acids are important for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding, the company adds.
Zymes LLC, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., uses its patented Ubisol-Aqua technology and proprietary patented formulations to create water-soluble omega-3 ingredients. The technology allows for easy incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids as well as one-year shelf life stability, says Jack McCabe, director in business development for Zymes. The company works with a variety of beverage-makers and branders that incorporate its EPA/DHA fish oil combination into their products, McCabe says.
In addition, Zymes offers its own OmegaChill enhanced water beverage, which contains 50-mg. of omega-3 in each bottle. Recently, Zymes has been working on a 2-ounce shot that contains 250-mg. of EPA/DHA fish oil, McCabe says. The omega-3-rich shot is in its final stages of development and is available for co-license, he says. McCabe also predicts omega-3 applications will increase in the near future.
“We feel particularly with omega-3, you are going to see increased use of it by major branders in the next 12 to 18 months,” McCabe says. “Right now, it’s been used primarily in the fruit juice segment of the beverage industry. We feel indications are you’re going to see it more in the enhanced water element marketplace.”
Zymes also applied its patented Ubisol-Aqua technology to develop a water-soluble offering of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
“CoQ10 is a natural co-enzyme, an enzyme-like compound, that is found in every cell of our body,” says Shelley Weinstock, senior vice president of research and scientific affairs for Zymes. “It’s involved in energy metabolism as well as being an antioxidant.”
The company’s formulation combines CoQ10 with vitamin E in a liquid water-soluble form. Zymes partnered with the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Windsor in Canada to investigate the ingredient’s application in the prevention of neurodegeneration. The study found that the water-soluble formulation of CoQ10 and vitamin E prevents the on-set of Parkinson-like syndrome in animals, Weinstock says. The company hopes to move into clinical trials of the CoQ10 study in the next couple of years, she says.
Fortification for function
Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also are recommended for cognitive health benefits. Fortitech specializes in custom nutrient premixes that are developed according to the type of product, functional goal and target demographic. For cognitive health formulations, Chaudhari recommends incorporating three components: antioxidants, an energy source and ingredients to boost mental cognitive functions. The most applicable forms for cognitive health formulations are juice and juice drinks and powdered beverages, Chaudhari says.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals that are produced normally when the body is under stress, he says. These free radicals destroy cellular function and overall energy levels, he says. Fortitech offers carotenoids as well as vitamins C and E to help repair the damage caused by free radicals.
After repairing free radical damage, Chaudhari recommends an energy-providing ingredient, such as B vitamins, ginseng or gingko. The body also needs phospholipids or lipid-containing fatty acids to boost mental cognitive functions, he says.
Formulations also can incorporate nutraceutical ingredients, such as CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid and omega-3, or specifically DHA and EPA, Chaudhari says.
DSM Nutritional Products offers a range of custom-made Quali-Blends that incorporate innovative compounds, nutraceuticals and minerals for cognitive performance and other health benefits, Doyle says. The custom-made Quali-Blends can be dry premixes or liquid blends that include a range of ingredients depending upon the intended benefit. One product concept that DSM Nutritional Products suggests is a smoothie fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamins C and E for school-age children to support cognitive function, Doyle says.
In addition to customized blends, DSM Nutritional Products markets a line of Quali-D-branded vitamin D3, which has been shown to boost cognitive health in the aging population, the company says. Its Quali-D line is made from pure crystalline cholecalciferol and formulated with food grade ingredients, it says. Vitamin D can be incorporated into dairy-based beverages, orange juice and juice drinks with at least 10 percent juice, DSM’s Doyle says.
Shown to benefit older adults in studies, carotenoids are available from DSM in cold-water dispersible beadlets. The ingredients, including lutein and beta-carotene, are marketed under the CaroCare, Quali-Carotene and FloraGlo brands and were designed for ease of use and better flow, dispersion and stability in beverage applications, Doyle says. The ingredients are best suited for applications that can benefit from their yellow-orange-red color scheme, she says.
Green tea-derived ingredients were the focus for a prototype cognitive health beverage featured at Health Ingredients 2010 trade fair in November in Madrid by Martin Bauer Group. The prototype was rich in theogallin, a compound derived from green tea that has been shown in numerous studies to improve cognitive functions, Vorsheim says. The company supplies green tea extracts with typical and higher levels of theogallin, it says.
Martin Bauer Group also offers ginkgo and ginseng. According to scientific studies, the active ingredients in ginseng, known as ginsenosides, and in ginkgo, called ginkgoflavonglycosides, have been proven to stimulate mental performance, Vorsheim says.
BI Nutraceuticals, Long Beach, Calif., specializes in botanicals, many of which have been shown to have an effect on cognitive performance across demographics, says Angela Dorsey-Kockler, product manager for the company. Smoothies, soft drinks, flavored water, drink mixes, coffee and tea are potential applications for BI Nutraceuticals’ botanical ingredients, Dorsey-Kockler says.
Blueberries, broccoli, green tea, rosemary and spinach are high in antioxidant levels, which are believed to protect against oxidative damage to tissues in the body, she says. In addition, caffeine and other caffeine sources, such as cocoa, green tea, guarana seed and yerba mate, can be used to help with mental alertness, she says. The company also has a range of botanicals, such as choline, St. John’s Wort and passion flower, that have been recognized for their role in helping against memory loss, depression and anxiety, Dorsey-Kockler says.
The outlook remains positive for the category of cognitive health, Fortitech’s Chaudhari says.
“People are looking at how to improve cognitive function and to have a better quality of life via nutrition,” he says. “I think it is a slow process, but it’s better - you don’t have to worry about side effects and those sorts of things, like you have with drugs.” BI