Ingredient development has come a long way. The sophistication of both research and technology is enabling suppliers to create ingredients that are targeted, flexible for formulation, and well-researched to support label claims.
Nutrition Industry Executive (NIE) applauds all suppliers that continue to work diligently to create health-providing ingredients. But we cannot award everyone. Here, we present the top innovative ingredients for common categories consumers gravitate to.
Criteria was based on:
• Product Research/Evidence/Bioavailability
• Sustainability/Traceability/Certifications (if applicable)
• Consumer Need
• The “Impressiveness Factor”
Congratulations to the annual NIE Award winners!
The judges are:
Nicole Avena, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), Chief Scientific Officer, Nutraland USA
Yair Steve Henig, PhD, Chief Science Officer, Caligenix, Founder of Henig Consulting
Jacqueline Jacques, ND FTOS, Founder, Nova Aurora, Inc.
Janet Poveromo, Editor-in-Chief, Nutrition Industry Executive magazine
Healthy Aging Category:
1st Place: Cartidyss
InnoVactiv Inc., Rimouski, QC, Canada, (418) 721-2308, x221, www.innovactiv.com
Cartidyss offers more than collagen peptides. Born from the need to upcycle fishery by-products, sustainably caught skate cartilage is hydrolyzed using a water-based enzymatic process yielding highly bioavailable marine type-II collagen peptides. It also contains other macromolecules naturally found in cartilage, like chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate and hyaluronic acid.
This composition offers synergetic potential allowing using a much lower dosage of 500 mg/day to reach clinical efficacy. This dosage enables formulating Cartidyss in convenient and distinctive formats, such as gummies, capsules, tablets, stick packs and shots, while maintaining an attractive price point. “The low dose makes Cartidyss an attractive collagen peptide option for aging skin,” remarked Bruno.
The manufacturing process involves only water and food-grade enzymes, yielding a completely natural, excipient-free collagen peptide hydrolysate with a low molecular weight for optimal digestibility and assimilation.
Henig commented, “Cartidyss makes excellent use of an upcycled fish byproduct. The enzymatic conversion of fish waste rich in collagen provides a range of peptides that demonstrate good efficacy in joint support as well as skincare, both markers of aging.”
Cartidyss offers a positive consumption experience. A recent consumer study showed that 77 percent of Cartidyss users were fully or highly satisfied with the product within one month. These users noted clear benefits on hair brilliance and strength, on soft or brittle nails, and gained a more radiant skin tone.
Clinical studies with Cartidyss show that its main constituents are effective at modulating skin and joint health. Within 140 minutes after intake, hydroxyproline and chondroitin sulfate content in the bloodstream increased by 87 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Plasma with these nutrients then stimulated the production of elastin fibers by cultured fibroblasts by 40 percent over control.
In another clinical study, Cartidyss users experienced a higher perception of efficacy on hydration (+31 percent), firmness (+26 percent), wrinkles reduction (+25 percent) and tonus (+12 percent). Dermis density was improved by 38 percent over placebo and wrinkles around the eyes and cheeks were reduced by 20v after 90 days of supplementation. Aditionally, joint health can be improved significantly by using Cartidyss for one month, as shown in another study.
“Everyone needs protein, but the quality and type can vary. Cartidyss created an innovative marine collagen to ensure skin and joint health is maintained with aging,” summarized Avena.
2nd Place: WellBiome
OptiBiotix Health Plc, United Kingdom, 44 (0) 7930 270 755, www.optibiotix.com
The gut microbiome is at the core of our health and wellbeing—and WellBiome has been formulated with this in mind. As a patented, mineral-enriched prebiotic multi-fiber complex, WellBiome promotes gut microbiome diversity and gut barrier integrity by enriching the healthy bacteria in the gut and their metabolic activities. Research suggests that consuming a combination of different fibers can increase microbiome diversity more than a single fiber product.
Featuring a synergistic combination of inulin, xylo-oligosaccharide (OptiXOS) prebiotic fiber and the trace mineral magnesium, WellBiome aids in short-chain fatty acid (SFCA) production to promote gut barrier integrity and enriches the Bifidobacterium to enhance magnesium bioavailability.
With an optimized ratio, WellBiome features a diverse range of oligo and polysaccharides (short and long chain prebiotic fibers). These two types of fibers work in both areas of the gut—the proximal colon and distal colon—where they both enrich and support Bifidobacterium and short chain fatty acids throughout the gut. This synergistic effect of prebiotic fibers and magnesium increases gut barrier integrity, reducing systemic inflammation, and also enhances the bioavailability of magnesium and other minerals.
WellBiome can be added to products or other ingredients to target certain health benefits to support bioavailability and product efficacy. Adding calcium to our patented formulation can therefore target bone health, while zinc can facilitate improved cognitive function, and selenium for a stronger immune system.
Avena noted, “WellBiome combines traditional mineral supplementation with modern practice gut-friendly prebiotic fiber to benefit overall wellbeing. While many diseases of age are prevalent, the gut-brain connection is one thing that is proven time and time again to show substantial benefits in prevention.”
WellBiome has EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) health claims for bone, gut, cognitive, heart, and energy support, allowing for a wider healthy aging product range. WellBiome, with three patents, has been certified as non-GMO (genetically modified organism), lactose- and gluten free and is suitable for vegans. The ingredients (inulin, xylo-oligosaccharide and magnesium) found in WellBiome are GRAS (generally recognized as safe).
WellBiome is manufactured under BRC certification standards—a global food safety benchmark. Strict quality assurance processes also ensure full traceability of each ingredient from beginning to end. As such, all ingredients used in our patented formulation retain full traceability statements.
OptiBiotix is a B member (Supplier Membership) of SEDEX Global, the largest collaborative platform for buyers, suppliers and auditors to store, share and report information with regard to labor rights, health & safety, the environment and business ethics.”
Condition Specific Category
1st Place: CognatiQ
FutureCeuticals, Momence, IL, (219) 776-5438, www.futureceuticals.com
The cognitive and brain health space has seen immense growth over the past years with a younger, broader consumer seeking ways to improve their cognitive function. They are keenly aware that higher-stressed lives negatively impact their daily mental performance. Consumers are looking for supplements and other natural means to sustain their cognitive acuity and energy.
CognatiQ is a natural, patented, USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Organic, Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) Project Verified cognitive health solution derived from coffee fruit and concentrated to unique phytonutrients for enhanced brain function and performance. Backed by four published clinical studies, 100 mg CognatiQ per day has demonstrated efficacy. It boosts Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) by 143 percent (BDNF plays a vital role in the development, maintenance and protection of brain neurons; increases activity and connectivity in regions of the brain associated with attention, focus and working memory); and CognatiQ improves measures of cognitive performance associated with alertness, processing speed, accuracy and mental stamina.
CognatiQ has been clinically shown to induce measurable improvements in concentration, alertness, reaction time, and accuracy both within 60 minutes post ingestion and sustain those benefits over 28 days with daily use. Additional research showed participants felt improvement in energy levels and less fatigued after taking CognatiQ.
We are coffee fruit leaders in the research, development and responsible sourcing of ingredients derived from the coffee plant.
“Coffee and various derivatives of coffee are known to boost cognition and energy so the notion of coffee extract is not new or very novel,” commented Henig. “However, this is a unique extract with its own chemical identity that is very well supported by scientific and clinical studies. The write ups elucidate the mechanism of action providing the rationale for its efficacy. The product is safe, well sourced and manufactured.”
2nd Place: Nutricog
PLT Health Solutions, Morristown, NJ, (973) 713-1654, www.plthealth.com
Today, we are seeing rapidly increasing interest in cognitive support for a broad range of lifestyle goals. Consumers are seeking everything from enhanced focus to reduced stress, improved mood, faster learning, effective memory, better adaptability and enhanced multitasking.
Nutricog Cognitive Performance Complex is a patented combination of haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and frankincense (Boswellia serrata) that is poised to change how the industry thinks about nootropics. Nutricog is experiential, with significant benefits occurring within 15 days. It’s effective at a relatively low dose, making compliance easier, and its constituents are sustainably, traceably grown and manufactured.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, subjects taking Nutricog demonstrated statistically significant improvements compared to placebo across multiple cognitive domains, including memory and learning, complex attention and executive function – with rapid improvements in memory and attentional focus seen after just 15 days of supplementation.
By the end of the 120-day study, subjects receiving Nutricog showed 1.4x improvement in Immediate Recall, 2.3x improvement in Delayed Recall and 2.1x improvement in Recognition Memory over baseline testing. Total Learning and Learning Rate were improved by 1.6x and 2.7x, respectively. Improvements in Proactive Interference scores, which reflect cognitive performance related to focus, attention, concentration began after 15 days of supplementation, and had a dramatic 11.5x improvement at 120 days.
Contrary to the well-established speed-accuracy trade-off, subjects taking Nutricog exhibited concurrent improvements in both speed and accuracy across assessments of multitasking and visual episodic memory. Further findings showed improvements in decision making and accuracy in working memory testing, as well as a significant increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a biomarker associated with neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Henig observed, “The brain health category is one of the fastest growing categories of the VMS space and in my opinion Nutricog is an excellent addition to the many other products in this growing category. The combination of two well-characterized ingredients, and the clinical and scientific support for the product are excellent.”
Avena said, “Many news outlets and research articles rave about the combination found in Nutricog, haritaki and boswellia (frankincense). Studies show its effectiveness for a multitude of cognitive and mood benefits, and PLT nailed the dosing on the head.”
Bruno likes “the multiple domains of cognitive improvement, and the fact that they are quantified.”
Personal Care Category
1st Place: Miricell
NutraLand USA, Irvine, CA, (949) 988-7615, www.nutralandusa.com
According to Grand View Research, the global hair growth supplements market was valued at $651.7 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7 percent from 2023 to 2030. Clearly, this represents an enormous category of consumer interest. While the most popular ingredient promoted for health hair is biotin, it really has no meaningful benefit for this purpose.
As a source of the polymamine spermidine, Miricell rice germ extract has multiple applications, chiefly as an ingestible nutraceutical for hair growth and other parameters of hair improvement. Two randomized, controlled, human clinical trials published on spermidine indicate that it reduces hair loss, increases hair stem diameter, increases in the anagen phase (hair growth phase when the hair follicle forms a new hair shaft) with improvements in as little as 30 days.
Miricell spermidine offers distinct advantages of over biotin and keratin, the other two primary nutraceuticals marketed for healthy hair. In the first instance, there is no evidence that biotin intake in healthy people who already receive sufficient biotin will have any added benefit for hair, so the advantage of polyamines over biotin is clear.
According to a 2017 published study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (Solyeymani T), “To date, there have been no clinical trials conducted to investigate the efficacy of biotin supplementation for the treatment of alopecia [hair loss] of any kind, nor has there been any randomized controlled trial to study its effect on hair quality and quantity in human subjects.”
While keratin is also a key nutraceutical marketed for hair growth, it has several primary downsides: keratin hydrolysate has only one study showing efficacy for human hair growth (many retailers require two for package claims), it is not vegan, and requires higher doses than Miricell.
Miracell has two published, randomized, controlled human clinical trials validating its effectiveness for hair growth and other parameters of hair improvement. One study demonstrated benefits when used alone or in combination with a few other select nutrients, and the other study also showed benefits when used with the same select nutrients.
Avena said, “Miricell is “an interesting product created using rice polyamines and spermidine that proves itself very worthy of a position as a top ingredient! Backed by a multitude of research showing longevity, immune, skin and reproductive health benefits it is one to consider.”
2nd Place: Proscalpin
Sabinsa, East Windsor, NJ, (801) 465-8400, www.sabinsa.com
Hair loss is a source of distress and embarrassment for both men and women, particularly as they age. While there are pharmaceutical options, both topical and ingestible, results are not always satisfactory, or free from side effects. With ever-increasing numbers of people turning to nutraceuticals for health and wellbeing, offering a natural alternative backed by research and patents to support healthy hair growth is truly a great opportunity for brands. And this is an area of interest for both men and women.
In its life cycle, hair goes through several phases such as anagen, catagen, and telogen phases before shedding. Those ingredients that support hair health in all these stages are definite winners. Proscalpin is a patented (US9498423) herbal hair care product that is a blend of Sabinsa’s Cococin (Cocos nucifera liquid endosperm), Saberry (Emblica officinalis fruit extract), and PeptiSeLect (a naturally occurring selenium-containing peptide found in garlic) to support healthy hair, prevent hair loss, and promote hair growth. This synergistic selenopeptide formulation for the protection of dermal papilla cells is patented in the U.S. and 10 other regions.
A published clinical study on Proscalpin formulation for 90 days showed clear improvement in hair growth rate and hair density. Hair fall rate and hair thinning reduced compared to the baseline values and all the effects were statistically significant. No adverse effects were recorded during the study.
“With a blend of researched ingredients for hair growth, thickening, and reduced fall out, Proscalpin is an innovative product that can be introduced into an abundance of products in the haircare market,” commented Avena. “There is also a large consumer market for hair thickening at the moment- and this is monumental!”
As Sabinsa celebrates its 35th anniversary, it also celebrates a long record of innovating products that improve human well-being, and Proscalpin is no exception. All of Sabinsa’s ingredient products are supported by research and Intellectual Property, with demonstrating safety always a high priority, according to the company.
1st Place: SunActive
NutriScience, Milford, CT, (203) 272-0467, www.nutriscienceusa.com
The problem with many plant-derived ingredients, especially flavonoids such as quercetin, is that they are poorly absorbed. To achieve health benefits consistent with the doses in clinical trials, consumers would have to consume large amounts of these ingredients daily, which most are unwilling to do. Many brands short-cut this problem by providing sub-clinical doses, leaving consumers with less than expected improvements in their health.
The solution is SunActive, a novel, patented encapsulation system for delivery of sparingly soluble plant flavonoids. It improves bioavailability and delivers enhanced health benefits for plant-derived nutritional ingredients. The SunActive Soluble Flavonoid Encapsulation Delivery System developed by Taiyo Kagaku uses a hollow cyclodextrin molecular inclusion structure to encapsulate a flavonoid glucoside, significantly improving its solubility, and allowing it to be hydrolyzed in the gut to directly generate the flavonoid. The flavonoid is then released in the small intestine and is absorbed directly into the blood.
The first flavonoid glucoside using this delivery system, called SunActive IsoQ, encapsulates isoquercitrin, which is released and enzymatically hydrolyzed in the small intestine to quercetin, which is then highly absorbed into the blood. A human clinical study found that quercetin bioavailability increased 25x when compared with direct consumption of quercetin. This delivery system is now being applied to other sparingly soluble flavonoids and will change the way these flavonoids are delivered and significantly improve their health benefits at much lower doses.
The SunActive encapsulated flavonoid delivery system has the advantage of being able to selectively hydrolyze rhamnose from flavonoid rutinosides and incorporate the flavonoid glucosides, which are chemically identical to those found in fruits and vegetables, into the cavity of cyclodextrin in a single one-pot process without using organic solvents.
This new delivery system allows insoluble flavonoids to be highly absorbed and bioavailable. In turn consumers receive the clinical health benefits of clinically active plant flavonoids at lower doses and costs.
“SunActiv is based on very clever chemistry by which soluble flavonoids can be encapsulated by cyclodextrin molecules and made more bioavailable by a factor of 25!” said Henig. “It utilizes a safe, novel process to produce.”
“Whenever buying supplements, it is a gamble whether they will be bioavailable for absorption in your body,” added Avena. “SunActive takes the guesswork out of it. They created a technology to formulate bioavailable forms of common supplements, which creates a better nutritional outcome in the consumer!”
2nd Place: VERDIGEL SC
IFF, New York, NY, 0049-175-294-6468, www.iff.com
VERDIGEL SC was developed to meet the growing consumer demand for plant-based, carrageenan-free alternatives in soft gel supplements. It offers manufacturers a seamless transition without compromising performance or quality. Derived from citrus peels, the pectin used in soft gels made from VERDIGEL SC is a familiar ingredient that consumers encounter in their day-to-day lives in many food & beverage applications.
IFF designed VERDIGEL SC to work on existing encapsulation equipment with minimal change to current operating procedures. VERDIGEL SC is a ready-to-use premix, requiring only the addition of water and a plasticizer to produce high-quality soft gels. From there, the standard rotary die encapsulation process can be used with industry standard capsule dies and tumble dryers. Finished capsules reach equivalent physical properties and stability of other plant-based soft gels.
Pectin as an ingredient has had minimal use in vegan soft capsule dosage forms. VERDIGEL SC utilizes tailored pectin as the main functional shell-forming component while still creating an immediate-release dosage form. The use of new ingredients, such as pectin, gives formulators and brand owners choices and flexibility as they design their products. This flexibility helps fulfill consumers’ preferences for choosing the active and non-active ingredients they consume in their favorite dosage forms.
While pectin has been used in soft gel production, its use has been limited to adding a delayed-release functionality to existing gelatin or carrageenan-based soft gels. VERDIGEL SC offers an immediate release profile meeting USP <2040> requirements. VERDIGEL SC also boasts improved thermal stability over gelatin soft gels, helping to improve storage limitations of animal-based soft gels to simplify supply chain requirements.
“I was really excited to see vegan soft gel innovation submitted in this category,” commented Jacqueline Jacques. The dominant technology for vegan soft gels is based on carrageenan. While this is a natural ingredient (from seaweed) some research suggests it may contribute to gut inflammation, IBS, and allergic reactions in some people. Given that the vegan and plant-based markets are continuing to grow, we need solutions for things like capsules that meet this demand and can be used to encapsulate ingredients like algal EPA and DHA. Performance is also key, and it appears that IFF’s product will check most of the boxes.”
Avena asserted, “IFF takes the cake for its versatility and innovation in the supplement industry. By creating a premix for vegan capsules that can be utilized by a multitude of manufacturers, they target a multitude of customers that can benefit from supplementation.”
Sports Nutrition Category
1st Place: TurmXTRA 60N
Nutriventia, Ambarnath, India, +91 9820064514, www.nutriventia.com
In sports and fitness, repair and rest are critical to the recovery process, contributing to enhanced performance. TurmXTRA 60N (250 mg daily) promotes recovery and rest, manages discomfort, alleviates muscle soreness, and improves joint function as demonstrated by comprehensive clinical evidence.
“Delayed-onset muscle soreness is a regular concern for athletes of all abilities,” noted Jacques. “This ingredient appears to be promising for providing relatively rapid relief of symptoms.”
TurmXTRA 60N stands out in a crowded marketplace of turmeric ingredients due to its combination of low-dose efficacy and clean-label certification. While other manufacturers of enhanced turmeric ingredients focus on high bioavailability claims, TurmXTRA 60N addresses the fundamental issue with turmeric extract—the need for low doses with demonstrated efficacy.
The competition’s claims are based on high “relative” bioavailability, a mathematical extrapolation of their pharmacokinetic study observations, and do not reflect in their clinical efficacy studies. A small 250 mg once daily dose of TurmXTRA 60N provides the benefits of a full dose of turmeric extract (standardized to 95 percent curcuminoids) demonstrated by comprehensive clinical substantiation. Its low-dose efficacy is possible thanks to its high content of 60 percent curcuminoids and high dissolution in water. This bioequivalence is supported by clinical studies that validate the statistically significant reduction in joint and muscle discomfort, pain, and improved recovery.
Typical turmeric extract (95 percent curcuminoids) has shown tremendous benefits in sports nutrition with the single disadvantage of its high daily dose requirement. With water-dispersible TurmXTRA 60N and its low-dose clinical substantiation, brands receive a huge boost in their formulation design. They can now incorporate a full dose of turmeric in any delivery format, and in combination with other ingredients to pack more punch in their products.
TurmXTRA 60N is the only turmeric ingredient accepted in Japan as Foods with Function Claims for joint health at 250 mg/day. What’s more, TurmXTRA 60N is the only turmeric curcuminoid ingredient with Clean Label Project certification, confirming the absence of harmful processing aids and solvents.
“Although we are weary of turmeric as a typical supplement on the market, TurmXTRA changes the game,” stated Avena. “Unlike traditional turmeric supplements, they have formulated a highly absorbable form of turmeric that needs 1/10th the typical dose for effects!
Bruno added, “I love this ingredient. In fact, I’ve used it in the formulation of a few different products. The low dosage and the supportive clinical studies make it a very attractive option when you’re looking for aa good turmeric-curcumin material.”