Innovative natural ingredients help make growing older more graceful.
Globally, the aging population continues to grow. Simon Seward, global business director, with Algalif in Iceland, noted that the United Nations projects that by the year 2100 the world’s population will be 11.2 billion and of that, 3.2 billion will be 60 years or older. In the U.S., by 2030, approximately 72 million people, or one out of five Americans, will be an older adult. Since 2011, and every single day for the next 20 years, roughly 10,000 Americans will celebrate their 65th birthdays. However, research by Euromonitor International shows that the number of “sick years” is projected to grow, as life expectancy around the world increases.
“This continued growth of the aging population presents a responsibility in the natural products industry to support these individuals, and help them age with more dignity, health and comfort,” said Seward. “It is in the best interest of the population as a whole to help ensure that aging adults remain healthy and active. This includes continuing to educate the market about the serious impact of good nutrition and health promoting behaviors.”
Anne Trias, product director with Massachusetts-based American River Nutrition, said the company is seeing interest [for healthy aging products] across all age groups. “The Baby Boomer population has traditionally been the primary market for anti-aging,” she said, “but it’s starting to trend younger as Millennials mature. Many of the products that were formerly targeted as anti-aging have applications in younger populations; the benefits of these nutraceuticals don’t suddenly kick in when one turns 40. Staying healthy becomes a priority for a relatively young consumer trying to decide between buying health insurance and paying their student loans.”
The top concerns of these consumers of healthy aging products are brain health, heart health and mobility, said James Hyde, vice president with Balchem Human Nutrition & Pharma in Utah. “It is clear that good nutrition plays a significant role in support of these areas. Today, the majority of individuals are deficient in minerals, and can benefit from supplementation, particularly with essential minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium.”
Hyde added that the best approach to healthy aging is to maintain a healthy lifestyle through all stages of life. “The growing population of mature adults continues to drive more interest in vitamins, minerals, and other natural products, as these individuals strive to remain active and vital throughout life and take personal control of their health.” He agreed that the healthy aging market isn’t exclusive to older consumers, as younger people, including Millennials are taking more personal interest in their health. “Providing solutions in the healthy aging category should encompass educating consumers of all ages about the importance of minerals and general nutrition through all stages of life,” he said.
There are many studies linking the benefits of minerals like zinc, magnesium and calcium to their support for healthy aging, Hyde noted. “While minerals are essential to life, and support many areas including brain, heart, bone and blood sugar health, they cannot be manufactured by the body. All minerals must be absorbed into the body from the outside. Good nutrition is critical at every age. Most people do not get enough nutrition through diet, and supplementation is often required in order to get the full daily requirements for vitamins and minerals.”
Minerals and Aging
One key concern associated with aging is cognitive decline. Hyde noted, as a precursor of acetylcholine, a powerful neurotransmitter, choline (Vitacholine) can support healthy brain activity by enabling messages to move faster in the brain. According to dietary studies, choline has a regular shortfall of consumption in our diets, and it was recently granted a RDI (recommended daily intake) in recognition of its importance.
Creatine MagnaPower from Albion Human Nutrition, which was acquired by Balchem in 2016, is a nutraceutical ingredient that combines the benefits of magnesium and creatine in a single molecule to support healthy aging, Hyde noted. “Creatine is known to increase upper body grip strength and physical working capacity by delaying neuromuscular fatigue, which is important for maintaining health and independent living in the elderly.”
Magnesium is essential to the human body and supports healthy aging by maintaining an adequate level of DHEA (the hormone responsible for the adrenal production of testosterone and estrogens), which peaks in our 20s and gradually declines as we age. Magnesium also maintains cell DNA and moderates mitochondrial decay that causes cells to age prematurely, lose energy, and become dysfunctional. “When this happens, signs and symptoms of aging begin to show,” Hyde said.“ Healthy magnesium levels support nearly every aspect of human health throughout the life cycle, but those having the most impact on age-related conditions include cognition, heart health, and energy regeneration.”
Research has shown that calcium levels are important in reducing the risk of fractures, osteoporosis and even diabetes. Because the ability to achieve adequate calcium through dairy products can be compromised by dietary restrictions, calcium supplements can aid in achieving the RDI.
Working With Manufacturers
The delivery method is also a critical part of the product equation, said Hyde, adding that with more than 150 patents, Albion is continuously working on new concepts and researching ways to improve mineral delivery systems. “Particularly when working with manufacturers developing supplements for older individuals,” he added, “it is important for suppliers to offer ingredients that are highly bioavailable, and can work in a range of applications and formats, that may include liquids, gummies and chews. Albion Minerals provide a range of options, not only for supplements, but also functional and fortified foods and beverages, as many consumers seek the nutrition they need from these food sources.”
Innovation With Ingredients
The aging process can be defined as a decline or loss of normal physiological function because of accumulation of oxidative damage in cells and tissues with advancing age, said Seward. “For example, young cells are protected from free radicals by balanced activity of the mitochondria and efficient antioxidant defenses. However, the efficiency of the body’s own antioxidant defense system reduces as we age. The elevated levels of free radical and other reactive species (ROS) lead to oxidative damage of cellular components. Our body accumulates the oxidative damage as we age, and we become more susceptible to certain health conditions.”
An ingredient that is attracting a lot of interest in the healthy aging category is the antioxidant astaxanthin, Seward added. “This natural antioxidant belongs to a family of organic pigments called carotenoids. Major natural sources for astaxanthin include salmonids, plankton, krill, shrimp, various yeasts and microalgae. The microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis produces the highest amount of natural astaxanthin in nature (10,000 to 30,000 mg/kg). Astaxanthin can also be synthesized chemically by using petrochemicals. However, studies have shown that natural astaxanthin is 50 times stronger than the synthetic one in singlet oxygen quenching.”
Trias pointed out that although antioxidants such as carotenoids, some vitamins and polyphenols are viewed as long-standing staples of a dietary or supplemental approach to healthy aging, there continues to be innovation in this category. “Vitamin E, for example, is thought of as a very traditional antioxidant, but most consumers are unaware of vitamin E’s non-traditional counterpart—tocotrienols,” she said. “Through the scientific innovation behind tocotrienols, vitamin E is experiencing a renaissance, and mounting clinical evidence is especially applicable to concerns associated with aging. For tocotrienols, this includes maintaining lipid levels within the normal range, and balancing well-known markers that accompany chronic inflammation in aging. Advances in Alzheimer’s disease research and a clinical study on osteopenia are also underway, the latter with promising potential application for the aging bone.”
For American River Nutrition’s patented and branded ingredient, novelty is inherent, with DeltaGold Tocotrienol being the only tocopherol-free tocotrienol product available on the market, and uniquely positioned to provide optimum function, Trias added.
Suppliers also acknowledge the happiness factor for aging well. According to Deanne Dolnick, science director with Georgia-based TR Nutritionals, “Healthy aging is all about a balanced diet, exercising on a regular basis and getting plenty of sleep. I believe that happiness/contentment plays a huge role in how we age. So if any on the previous list are lacking, supplements can be a big help.
“The best supplements to take at any point in the life cycle are those that provide essential vitamins and minerals,” Dolnick continued. “There are certainly countless other supplements that can be taken for healthy aging. To support joint health, there’s turmeric, glucosamine and chondroitin. There are many antioxidants available. Still very much in demand to support heart health are CoQ10 and resveratrol,” she added. “The end-products must have the correct dosages of everything and of course, there’s no way for the consumer to know if the product has high-quality ingredients.”
Dolnick said quality is the responsibility of the marketer, manufacturer and contract manufacturer. “I have spoken to countless companies who rely solely on their contract manufacturers to purchase their raw materials. And then the contract manufacturer buys based on price. This is not the way to make a superior product.”
According to Jeff Lind, vice president of sales and marketing with New Jersey-based Natreon, Inc., “Currently, the most innovative ingredients are those that have positive effect on the mitochondria and those that aid the body in the upregulation of its own genes, which effectively aid the body in synthesizing the necessary components for healthy aging. Natreon’s PrimaVie increases mitochondrial energy and upregulates the genes responsible for collagen synthesis. Another ingredient targeting mitochondria is Chromadex’s Niagen.”
Avocado is another innovative ingredient in the anti-aging market right now, said Steve Siegel, vice president of Ecuadorian Rainforest in New Jersey. The company supplies avocado powder, avocado 4:1 powdered extract, and avocado pit powder. “For one, avocado has a lot of nutrients, including vitamin E, which may support healthy skin and may even strengthen it. The flesh of avocado makes it great for topical applications as well. Avocados contain healthy fats called oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, which has been known to support healthy skin cells and reduce irritation and redness.”
In addition, avocado benefits the skin, however, it comes from the pit. “Avocado pit is the main source of the fruit’s antioxidants, usually containing up to 60 percent of the entire fruit’s content of the nutrient,” Siegel explained. “Antioxidants work by combating free radicals, which can cause damage to healthy cells and can age the skin.”
As for aging and maintaining healthy weight, in October of 2016, PLT Health Solutions in New Jersey introduced an innovative weight-management ingredient: SLIMVANCE Core Slimming Complex. The ingredient is a patented, synergistic formulation of three well-known spices—Curcuma longa, Moringa oleifera and Murray koenigii.
“The combination resulted from screening hundreds of botanicals to develop synergistic performance supporting weight loss,” said Dr. Barbara A. Davis, vice president of medical and scientific affairs with the company. “The ingredient is supplied as a free-flowing powder that can be delivered in supplements and beverages.”
K for Aging
Eric Anderson, senior vice president of global sales and marketing with NattoPharma in New Jersey, said the evidence continues to mount over the importance of adequate vitamin K2 intake—especially for aging. “This is a novel ingredient for the category not just because it works in concert with other healthy aging nutrients, such as vitamin D3 and omega-3s, but because it is necessary for the proper utilization of calcium, a mineral that can present possible cardiovascular risks if too heavily consumed,” he noted.
Anderson added that there are K-dependent proteins in the body that help the body properly utilize calcium: osteocalcin and matrix Gla protein (MGP). When activated, the former binds calcium to the bone mineral matrix. “The former, when activated, inhibits calcium from depositing in arteries, blood vessels, and soft tissues, contributing to cardiovascular health. But in order to be activated, the body needs adequate vitamin K2,” he said.
“Even healthy eaters do not consume enough K2 to activate these proteins,” Anderson pointed out. “So as we age, the inactivity of these proteins results in brittle, weak bones and calcified, hardened arteries. MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is innovative because it has a lengthy portfolio of research showing its ability to increase viable MGP and osteocalcin. And it has novel research demonstrating the actual bone and heart benefits of higher levels of those working proteins.”
The shortening of telomeres is a natural process that occurs with DNA replication. Telomere length is associated with cellular aging, cancer and an elevated risk of developing age-related disease and vice versa. However, research has shown that some natural ingredients or compounds are capable of slowing the rate of telomere shortening, and hence promote anti-aging.
Brian See with New Jersey-based ExcelVite said the company’s non-GMO (genetically modified organism), bio-enhanced natural full-spectrum palm tocotrienol complex (EVNol SupraBio) said the ingredient has been shown to enhance telomere protection. “In promoting healthy aging and longevity to a globally aging population, non-GMO palm tocotrienol complex has been shown to provide benefits through telomere protection; in addition to existing research that shows it promotes heart, vascular and skin health. These health aspects are all relevant to aging consumers.”
Trends in Healthy Aging
The idea of “healthy aging” is strong, especially among a younger crowd. Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global sales and marketing with Horphag Research, with U.S. offices in New Jersey, said he’s seen more young consumers interested in the concept of healthy aging as they look to maintain their health for the future. “Consumers are continuing to educate themselves on the benefits of natural ingredients, and now one in five adults in the U.S. regularly take herbal supplements. As more people become aware of the benefits of herbal supplements for healthy aging, we see the industry poised for expanded growth.”
Horphag Research’s flagship ingredient, Pycnogenol, is shown to benefit a number of health conditions directly related to healthy aging for skin care, heart health and circulation, eye health, sports and endurance and cognitive function, making it a versatile healthy aging ingredient.
Bornet added that there has been extended interest in natural ingredients for longevity and healthy aging throughout recent years. “Consumers are doing more research than ever on products and ingredients before purchasing, and they’re interested in natural ingredients backed by science to improve their health concerns.”
Another top trend, according to See, are products with multiple active ingredients, instead of one-size-fit-all approach to address conditions related to aging. For example, See pointed out, dietary supplement companies are formulating multivitamin with Vitamin E Complete or standalone Vitamin E Complete that consists of all eight isoforms of the vitamin E family (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) tocotrienol and tocopherol for healthy cognitive function and antioxidant activity for health-aging.
Duel functioning ingredients that can be used both in topical and nutritional products are ideal, as well, providing strong single ingredient recognition by consumers, said Rod Benjamin, director of research/development and technical support with Bergstrom Nutrition in Washington. “Plus you get the benefit of topical products providing faster results, coupled with longer lasting results obtained nutritionally from a ‘beauty from within’ product,” he added. “Nutrition’s OptiMSM is recognized for reducing fine lines and wrinkles when used topically and when taken as an oral supplement.”
Tackling Aging From Within
Tim Hammond, vice president of sales and marketing with Bergstrom Nutrition said the desire to support skin not only topically, but by improving underlying aspects of skin health, is on the rise. “Anecdotal evidence of MSM’s benefits for skin have existed for years, but recent research has provided the objective evidence of its benefits. The research showed that taking MSM decreased wrinkles in 100 percent of participants for an average of a 38 percent reduction.”
The beauty from within market in the U.S., while growing, offers the ingredient producer and consumer product manufacturer some tough hurdles, added Davis. “The total market is relatively small in size, relative to sports nutrition for example, and therefore product development and commercialization might be a less attractive target. It is dominated by only a handful of ingredients that have been around for years and lacks innovation that sparks the imagination,” Davis pointed out.
At the same time, beauty from within competes with a formidable opponent—beauty from without (topical), she noted. “While the cosmetic industry is getting better about claims, they don’t face the same sort of scrutiny that supplement companies do.
“That said, there is a huge market demand for what beauty from within products can do for people, Davis said. “And it represents a convenient delivery system for results. What the supplement industry needs to focus on are the same things we do already: innovative ingredients and delivery systems; offer high-quality research and strong, credible claims, that build transparency and trust with the consumer and educate people to our way of doing business.”
PLT Health Solutions markets two ingredients into the beauty from within space: Ceratiq Phytoceramides and Collactive Collagen Complex. “Ceratiq Phytoceramides offer a wide range of benefits that are associated with hydrated skin, including improved overall skin health, elasticity, suppleness, less dryness in winter and youthful appearance,” Davis explained. “A natural, vegan source of ceramides—a class of lipids known as ‘the skin’s natural sealant.’ Collactive Collagen Complex is a 100 percent marine-based, all-natural ingredient composed of collagen and elastin peptides formulated in the same ratio found naturally in human skin. Collactive combines the two main constituents of the skin’s extracellular matrix and has an anti-wrinkle synergic action: elastin fibers give the dermis suppleness that complements collagen fibers tensile strength.”
Natreon’s Lind also points to collagen as an important component of the beauty from within category. “Collagen is the most abundant protein in the skin. It makes up 75 percent of your skin. This is also your ‘fountain of youth,’ responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines. Over time, environmental factors and aging diminish your body’s ability to produce collagen. Elastin is found together with collagen and is responsible for giving structure to your skin and organs. As with collagen, elastin is affected by time and the elements. Diminished levels of this protein cause your skin to wrinkle and sag.” Natreon’s PrimaVie upregulates the genes in skeletal muscle coding for the synthesis of collagen, elastin, and other extracellular matrix proteins, Lind said.
Answering Consumer Needs
Manufacturers and consumers alike are doing their research, and demanding transparency regarding the specific sources and production methods of ingredients, Seward said. “Suppliers of raw materials and ingredients that support healthy aging must also provide solid research and scientific evidence about the specific benefits, safety and actions. Like other top suppliers, Seward said, Algalif provides detailed information about testing methods used, in order to help validate the safety and quality of its ingredients, and reveal information about the sustainability efforts they employ, to help reinforce their commitment to health and the environment.
“Smart suppliers of healthy-aging ingredients also consider the importance of working with manufacturers to educate not only older adults, but also Millennials and the younger population about the long-term effects and the importance of nutrition at every age,” Seward said.
“It’s really a misnomer to call the category ‘anti-aging,’” said Lind. “We need to move away from the concept of anti-aging toward the concept of healthy aging and increasing health-span as opposed to life-span. This market is booming. So much so that Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) has begun tracking sales and innovations in this category and NBJ has now given ‘Aging’ its own category in their Condition Specific report. In some ways though, having its own category is misleading, as so many of the other categories (joint health, brain health, sleep, etc.) are experiencing growth due to the consumers recognizing that these are some of the issues they face merely as a result of aging.” NIE
For More Information:
Algalif, +47 21 95 12 00
American River Nutrition, (413) 253-3449
Balchem/Albion, (845) 326-5600
Bergstrom Nutrition, (360) 693-1883
Ecuadorian Rainforest, (973) 759-2002
ExcelVite, (732) 906-1901
Horphag Research, (201) 459-0300
Natreon (732) 296-1080
Natto Pharma, (609) 454-2992
PLT Health Solutions, (973) 984-0900
TR Nutritionals, (404) 935-5761