At a time when society is constantly on the go, ingredient suppliers are finding ways to help keep the population mentally sharp.
Which night were those dinner plans again? Was that doctor’s appointment Thursday or Friday of next week? These are a couple of the questions people ask themselves in the midst of their action-packed schedules.
Though this may be a minor issue of recollection on the surface, one’s memory tends to suffer when trying to find that balance between work and personal life. However, if conditions do worsen, statistics show that about half a million Americans younger than the age of 65 have some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. After this age, the prevalence of the disease is estimated to double every five years, according to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Ingredient manufacturers are aware of this and have been supplying ingredients, while implementing innovation and addressing consumer concerns. Contrary to what many may believe, younger generations are taking a proactive approach by starting to use memory and cognition products as well.
In some ingredient suppliers’ opinions, brain health may belong at the very top of the priority list. Given that it serves as a central hub for a plethora of different functions throughout the body, some of the most commonly used ingredients date back thousands of years.
“Major ingredients used in memory and cognitive health products can be found to originate from ayurvedic literature,” said Anurag Pande, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs with New Jersey-based Sabinsa. “One of the oldest herbs used for memory enhancement is bacopa, used for millennia to improve memory retention in all ages. Sabinsa provides these selected natural ingredients with scientifically validated and clinically demonstrated benefits.”
In fact, Sabinsa’s product Bacopin was derived from the aforementioned herb.
“Bacopin is a standardized triterpene glycosides (Bacosides) extract from leaves of the Bacopa monniera plant. Bacosides are believed to help repair damaged neurons and, therefore, offer enhanced cognition,” Pande continued. “Clinical studies have showed Bacopa monniera can also be effective in managing or reducing anxiety levels in adults.”
However, as time has progressed, discoveries have gone beyond this one herb. Rather, according to Bryan See, regional product manager with New Jersey-based ExcelVite Inc., a handful of them have been brought to light over the years, and they hold additional value since they help with preventative measures.
“The common ingredients for cognitive health are omega-3/DHA, choline, phosphatidylserine, CoQ10 and vitamin E tocotrienol,” he said. “And they are touted to be neuro-protective and cognitive health ingredients for a simple reason: recognition with its strong research evidences. For example, NIH (National Institutes of Health)-funded studies have reported that alpha-tocotrienol is 1,000 times more potent than tocopherol in protecting brain cells and also to maintain brain cell survival in the event of a stroke. Researchers in Malaysia have also showed that supplementation of EVNol SupraBio helps to attenuate the progression of white matter lesion in humans. This research evidence is crucial, as more studies have demonstrated that in addition to causing disability, which is immediately apparent, stroke is linked to increased risk of eventual cognitive dysfunction and impairment.
“Further evidence has shown that all vitamin E isoforms are involved in protecting the elderly from mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease.”
Some ingredients, such as Sensoril (ashwagandha), provide additional versatility by being as effective on their own versus as a component of another product.
“Sensoril is found in cognitive health products as both a stand-alone ingredient and also is used in proprietary formulations,” said Bruce Abedon, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs at Vermont-based NutraGenesis. “Sensoril is a preferred ingredient because it is a highly concentrated extract of ashwagandha requiring a low clinically efficacious dose (only 125 mg daily). It has been evaluated in three human clinical trials investigating cognitive function and possesses structure/function claims in this condition/specific area in accordance with DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994).”
Innovations & Concerns
As alluded to earlier, although memory issues may be more common among the older generations of consumers, Baby Boomers is not the sole demographic that utilizes these types of products. Younger age groups also use these ingredients, but more as a way of increasing productivity.
“Preservation of memory certainly addresses the elderly first and foremost,” noted Jocelyn Bérubé, MSc, executive and scientific director, health and nutrition with innoVactiv. “However, we now see more and more working professionals trying to support their mental sharpness through long working days, we see students needing more focus to achieve the level of excellence they are aiming for or we see young parents trying to remain productive as they cope with their changing life habits with the coming of a new baby. Brain supplements are thus not the exclusive bastion of the elderly, but should appeal to anyone looking to remain as sharp and productive as possible.”
An important factor when it comes to an ingredient’s popularity is the originality and creativity behind its formulation technique. According to Elyse Lovett, MS, MBA and marketing manager with Kyowa Hakko (New York), the fermentation process is crucial.
“Innovation is key when creating an ingredient and product,” she said. “Kyowa Hakko supplies Cognizin, the branded form of Citicoline, made from a fermentation process to yield the highest purity and quality. Citicoline is a potent brain-health nutrient that has been clinically studied to support mental energy, focus, attention and concentration.”
However, these ingredients cannot serve the true function without addressing the concerns of their consumers, as well as regulators. “Manufacturers need to study in depth the ingredients for brain/cognitive health—if the ingredient is backed with human clinical studies, the material used/brand name and daily effective dose for cognitive health/brain protection—which are the common questions from the authorities like FDA (Federal Trade Commission) and FTC (U.S. Food and Drug Administration),” noted See. “As a result, when developing and promoting a brain health product, manufacturers must consider and emphasize these important priorities and values.”
State of the Market
As more research and new information continues to be uncovered regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the market continues to grow. This is especially true when a loved one is involved.
“Sadly, it seems that virtually everybody either has a family member, friend or acquaintance with Alzheimer’s disease or early onset dementia,” noted Deanne Dolnick, science director, TR Nutritionals (Georgia). “Watching it firsthand, I can attest to the fact that it is devastating in a way that is unimaginable. Prior to having known somebody with this disease, I thought that it was only about loss of memory, but it’s so much more than that. Cognitive abilities decline almost as quickly as memory. The simplest tasks become difficult. Staying engaged in conversation becomes almost impossible as the disease progresses. This category is growing faster than most, because we would all like to do whatever we can to avoid going down the painful path of dementia. This segment of supplements includes all demographics—men and women of all ages. At TR Nutritionals, we are getting inquiries from countless companies that are developing brain health supplements. They are looking for raw materials that can aid in memory and cognition.”
Furthermore, the increase in life expectancy and gradual ingredient shift has impacted this as well, according to Mark Thurston, president at AIDP, Inc. in California.
“As people are living longer (while the body, and importantly the brain, were not designed to live 80 and 90 years), more people need cognitive health support,” he said. “At the same time, people are becoming more educated about choices for their health and are opting for non-pharmaceutical products containing science proven ‘natural’ ingredients to support good mental health. We anticipate that the market will continue to grow, as companies invest in science and manufacturers are looking for ‘value added’ ingredients for their functional foods and beverages.”
Research & Future Studies
Being that memory and cognitive health can include a plethora of different topics, manufacturers sometimes choose to focus on specific factors in order to maximize their results.
“Brain health is very encompassing; it can mean a myriad of vague things to people: healthy aging, memory, brain processing power, etc.,” noted Chase Hagerman, brand director with Chemi Nutra in Texas. “But what we have found consumers driven to are much more concrete; things such as energy, focus, mental sharpness are all things that are pretty straight forward.
“As such, we like to design our research to address the efficacy of our brain ingredients for these specific claims. For example, in our case, we know that mental energy is highly desirable. So we had two recent studies involving our branded ingredient, AlphaSize Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC) and compared the effects of this ingredient with not only a placebo, but with caffeine, too.”
Similarly, innoVactiv chose to take an enzymatic approach to research regarding the impact of caffeine.
“We wanted to address brain health by optimizing how the body manages glucose, the most important source of energy for our neurons,” said Bérubé. “With our flagship ingredient InSea2, a dual action inhibitor of amylase and glucosidase enzymes, we thought that we had the strongest tool to reduce the size of post-meal blood glucose and insulin responses, thereby preventing the occurrence of hypoglycemia and the skewing of amino acids balance to sustain brain function after a large meal.”
The study consisted of having volunteers consume a breakfast that was high in carbohydrates.
“To demonstrate that, we recruited 60 healthy volunteers and submitted them to repetitive testing using the COMPASS system, Bérubé continued. “In our study, after subjects took a heavy breakfast, we noticed a clear decline in vigilance and choice accuracy, as well as a rise in error rates in the placebo group. However, subjects consuming our proprietary ingredient InSea2 before this high-carb breakfast saw a preservation of their cognitive functions and a 15 percent decline in error rates. This effect of InSea2 thus opens an entirely new angle for maintaining brain health through the day, without resorting to caffeine!”
As one looks ahead, Dolnick offered a suggestion that could impact results by possibly providing a deeper perspective on brain research. “Here is what I would love to see: studies being conducted on a younger population. My friends and I always joke about how forgetful we’ve become,” she said. “I always thought that it was just me, but I have found that it’s many people in their 40s and 50s who are noticing a decline in memory and the ability to concentrate. If it could be confirmed through double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that the Indian botanicals showed a significant improvement in memory and cognitive function in a younger population, we would see huge growth in this category.” NIE
Tips to Improve Your Memory
Memory improvement is part of this memory game—the process can be done with few steps that can be easy and performed effortlessly. Many people have trouble remembering faces or names. How to remember things is only a technique that you need to utilize, for example, to remember a face you just need to examine a person’s face discretely when you are introduced. Try to find an unusual feature, ears, hairline, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, complexion, etc.
Create an association between that characteristic, the face and the name in your mind. The association may be to link the person with someone else you know with the same name. Alternatively it may be to associate a rhyme or image of the name with the person’s face or defining feature—try to apply that to one of the memory games below.
Also, when you are introduced, ask for the person to repeat their name. Use the name yourself as often as possible (without overdoing it). If it is unusual, ask how it is spelled or where it comes from, and if appropriate, exchange cards. Keep in mind that the more often you hear and see the name, the more likely it is to sink in.
Also, after you leave the person, review the name in your mind several times. If you are particularly keen, you might decide to write it down and make notes; that would help and improve your memory search process. The methods suggested for remembering faces and names are fairly simple and obvious, but are useful. Association either with images of a name or with other people can really help. Repetition and review help to confirm your memory.
This memory game is going to activate some areas of the brain responsible for memory acquisition, which therefore, can help your memory improve.
For More Information:
AIDP, Inc., (626) 964-6910
Chemi Nutra, LLC, (512) 823-2500
ExcelVite, Inc., (732) 906-1901
innoVactiv Inc., (418) 721-2308
Kyowa Hakko U.S.A., Inc., (917) 796-7533
NutraGenesis LLC, (802) 257-5345
Sabinsa Corporation, (732) 777-1111
TR Nutritionals, (404) 935-5761