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Antioxidant Nation

Albion Minerals®

Condition-specific antioxidants become the focus as popularity continues to grow.

An endorsement from TV’s Dr. Oz can do wonders for a product. The phenomenon, know as the “Dr. Oz Effect,” can send viewers of his television show to the health food store at the mere mention of a certain ingredient, even though he refuses to endorse a particular brand.

A supporter of antioxidants, Dr. Oz continues to promote their benefits and features the “the Ultimate Antioxidant Checklist” on both his website and television show—which has caught the attention of consumers across the United States.

And as consumer awareness grows, so do sales figures. According to Euromonitor International, global sales of antioxidant ingredients, such as green tea, dark chocolate, superfruit juice and dietary supplements totaled $34 billion in 2010. Euromonitor also reported that retail value sales for packaged food and beverages with antioxidants totaled $11 billion in 2010. Further, according to a Packaged Facts survey conducted from February to March 2012, 29 percent of U.S. adults are seeking out high-antioxidant groceries, and 44 percent of women buy skincare or cosmetic products that promote their antioxidant content.

The lack of antioxidant-rich foods in the standard American diet have caused many consumers to add antioxidant supplements to their diets, and as the market develops, so does the convenience factor. Shoppers now have a number of choices of delivery methods including capsules, tablets, effervescents and drinks, which allow people to consume their antioxidants daily, whether they prefer swallowing a pill or drinking them on-the-go.

Fruit Sensations 

This rise in the antioxidant market has sent manufacturers on a search for the hot new superfruit. From more “exotic” fruits, such as açai and goji berries, to home-grown superfruits like blueberries and cranberries, the next “it superfruit” might be just around the corner.

“The supplement and food industries are always hunting for new ingredients combining natural origin and intrinsic health benefits,” said Catherine Lecareux, marketing and communication manager for New Jersey-based Nexira US. “This search for novelty is not easy, especially facing the challenging health category is driven by the use of fruits and vegetables, which combine both advantages of being natural (and possibly organic) and well known for their excellent health-related properties.”

Maqui Berries

Maqui is a unique deeply purple berry that grows in the Patagonia region of South America. According to Annie Eng, president of HP Ingredients in Florida, the Mapuches Indian historically consumed maqui berry for a variety of ailments including strength and stamina, blood sugar control, cancer, ulcer and fever. In addition, Mapuche warriors drank a fermented beverage made from maqui berry that contribute to their stamina and strength.

“[The] maqui berry has one of the highest spectrum of antioxidant protection against five of the most important free radicals found in humans,” explained Eng. “HP Ingredient’s maqui berry raw materials has a total ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of over 5,000 ìmole per gram, or 500,000 ìmole per 100 gram, when tested against all five free radicals, making maqui the highest antioxidant superfruit in the world.” 

The list of benefits that the maqui berry offers is a long one; the purple berry supports healthy aging, aids in protecting cells from oxidative stress, neutralizes free radicals, supports healthy inflammatory function, is a natural cox-2 inhibitor, helps support a healthy immune system, supports cardiovascular health, helps to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as aids in increasing strength, stamina and energy.

In fact, according to a study published in 2008 in the journal Food Chemistry, extracts from maqui demonstrated antioxidant- and cardio-protective activities in vivo. Further, authors of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in July 2010, noted that “… phenolic extracts from maqui berries inhibited lipid accumulation, adipogenesis, and inflammatory mediators in vitro.”

“Besides being high in ORAC value, maqui berry is also high in anthocyanins, antioxidant flavonoids that protect many body systems and have some of the strongest physiological effects of any plant compounds,” said Eng. “Benefits of anthocyanins include neutralize enzymes that destroy connective tissue, prevent oxidants from damaging connective tissue, repair damaged proteins in the blood-vessel walls, lighten allergic reactions, promote cardiovascular health, prevent oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), anti-inflammatory and may have anti-cancer properties.”

Tart Cherries

While “exotic” fruits like the maqui berry have gotten a lot of media attention recently, cherries have also been garnering some attention in the antioxidant category—Dr. Oz has even done a segment about the benefits of tart cherry juice. Studies have shown that tart cherries can help regulate and promote restful sleep, reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as reduce pain and inflammation.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that tart cherry juice Could improve and minimize exerciseinduced muscle damage. The study noted that strength loss and pain were significantly less in the cherry juice trial versus the placebo group—participants who drank the cherry juice lost only four percent of muscle strength over four days of exercise, while placebo participants lost 22 percent.

Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, suggested that tart cherries may help to control weight and prevent metabolic syndrome.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits, have always been popular with consumers, as they are good sources of vitamin C. But citrus fruits also contain carotenoids and flavonoids—classes of antioxidants that help fight free radicals.

Researchers at the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia studied the effects of flavonoids. The study compiled data from over 14 years—gathered from 69,622 women who reported their eating habits every four years. The women provided details about their consumption of fruits and vegetables. The research team paid particular attention to six subclasses of flavonoids—flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones—in terms of risk involving ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke.

The results, which were published in the American Heart Association’s medical journal Stroke, showed that the highest levels of flavonones were 45 mg per day. In the study, the flavonones came primarily from oranges and orange juice (82 percent) and grapefruit and grapefruit juice (14 percent).

California-based Ingredients by Nature launched CitruShield™ in 2011, a proprietary formulation from 100 percent whole citrus fruits and flavonoid extracts, explained Rob Brewster, company president. “The formula contains citrus flavonoid extracts and whole fruit powders from five varieties of citrus including lemon (citrus limon), lime (citrus aurantifolia), orange (citrus sinensis), tangerine (citrus reticulata) and grapefruit (citrus paradisi). There are no added carriers and/or diluents in the formula, and CitruShield is also available without grapefruit,” he said. “CitruShield ORAC citrus flavonoid formula is the first 100 percent citrus ORAC formulation (as high as 5,000,000/100 g total ORAC) with proven measured antioxidant activity against five of the most important free radicals found in humans—hydroxyl, peroxyl, peroxynitrite, singlet oxygen and superoxide anion.”

Cactus Fruit

Opuntia ficus-indica, also known as prickly pear cactus, is a flower- and fruitbearing cactus plant that has been used for centuries by indigenous Mexican tribes to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Studies have shown that prickly pear cactus contains antioxidant properties that help reduce pain and inflammation.

Nexira offers an organic version of Cacti-Nea™, made of Opuntia ficusindica cactus fruit. “Thanks to exclusive partnerships with local growers of the Mediterranean area, Bio Serae ensures the origin and the traceability of these fruits,” said Lecareux. “A gentle, environmentally friendly process, free from any chemical and respectful of the plant, allows obtaining a high quality standardized ingredient which strictly complies with the current European legislation regarding organic farming.”

Cacti-Nea offers diuretic properties for a slimmer body and antioxidant protection thanks to its high content of indicaxantine, the most bioavailable betalain pigment. In addition, Cacti-Nea is supported by in-vivo and clinical studies, according to the company.


While the antioxidant market continues to flourish, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that an operation that marketed açai berry supplements, “colon cleansers” and other products using allegedly fraudulent free trial offers and phony endorsements from Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray would pay $1.5 million as part of a settlement.

The settlement order banned the defendant, Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc. in Arizona, from socalled “negative-option” sales, such as Continuity plans and free or introductory price trial offers, in which consumers pay nothing up front or only a small fee to receive a product, but are then automatically charged a higher price unless they take steps to cancel the shipments, or return the product before the end of the trial period.

The negative attention that the case received combined with the recession had an effect on the antioxidant market, according to HP Ingredients’ Eng. “After the açai online scam and scandal, it hurt the antioxidant supplements in general,” she said. “In addition, after the economy slowed down in 2008 and 2009, it became difficult for consumer to justify buying antioxidants, because it is not something that they can measure in terms of improvements of health.”

Condition Specific 

As consumers continue to educate themselves about the benefits of antioxidants, they are starting to expect more. “Consumers want much more than basic antioxidants; they want antioxidants now to perform clearly and distinctly in a condition-specific manner, such as inflammation control,” said Ingredients by Nature’s Brewster.

“We need to go beyond ORAC,” added Eng. “The consumer needs real science and human clinicals to understand the health benefits of taking a particular antioxidant. HP Ingredients works with scientists to conduct clinical trials on maqui berry to substantiate its health benefits in the area of blood glucose control.” 

Nexira recently launched Oli-Ola, an olive extract standardized in hydroxytyrosol— a phytonutrient with strong antioxidant properties. According to Lecareux, this antioxidant has been shown to support a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing low-density lipoprotein oxidation. The 100 percent natural olive extract is produced from organic olives and is exclusive to Nexira Health (previously known as Bio Serae Laboratories).

“This organic ingredient meets the specifications in the positive report from EFSA (April 2011) which approved claims for protection of lowdensity lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidative damage and maintenance of normal blood high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels,” Lecareux added. “Using this new olive extract will provide the opportunity to make a cardiovascular health claim, which is a significant marketing advantage for the nutraceutical industry.

“Everybody is concerned by antioxidants because antioxidants are involved in lots of metabolisms and they are essential to keep in good health,” concludedLecareaux. “Antioxidants can target either sportsmen to favor recovery or seniors for anti-aging application, or anybody for cardiovascular risks prevention. The global term ‘antioxidant’ properties are not enough to highlight the health benefit of a new ingredient. We need to be more specific on how they work to improve health and well-being.”

Extra! Extra!

Visit www.niemagazine.com to read about a study on popcorn as a good source of antioxidants.


HP Ingredients, (941) 749-7066 

Ingredients by Nature, (909) 230-6200 

Nexira US, (908) 707-9400

Albion Minerals®