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How Natural Ingredients Can Aid in Healthy Aging

Albion Minerals®
Healthy Aging Healthy Aging

Aging is an inevitable reality that we eventually face, but one that many try to avoid or even fear. However, it doesn’t need to be all bad. Today, there are several ingredients and supplements on the natural products market that can address nearly all of the concerns of aging, from physical to mental. They can naturally decrease the effects that aging has on the body and mind and lead to more health and happiness throughout the process.

According to Luigi Fontana in his presentation for a 2010 workshop by the Institute of Medicine (U.S.) Food Forum in Washington, D.C. titled “Providing Healthy and Safe Foods as we Age,” aging is defined as “the ability of human beings to remain physically and mentally healthy, happy and creative, empowered, active, contributing and independent for as long as possible.” He elaborated that “aging is a lifetime process and not something ‘kicking in when you are 65,’ which means that how people behave (e.g., eat) when they are young and middle-aged matters. The accumulation of damage is due to failure of maintenance and repair mechanisms to completely protect against damage, leading to progressive decline in function and structure and eventually death. Importantly, chronic diseases accelerate the accumulation of damage.” Consumers of a widening age range are increasingly becoming more concerned with their health and appearance related to aging. It is best to get a head start on preventative measures against illness, cognitive decline, skin issues, etc., rather than waiting until the effects of aging begin to show.

Nutritional Needs as We Age

Aging also plays an enormous role in our nutritional needs. According to a presentation by Katherine Tucker for the same 2010 workshop, dietary needs change with aging in several ways. She noted that “people become less active, their metabolism slows, their energy requirement decreases, all of which mean that they need to eat less.” In addition, “research demonstrates that because older adults’ abilities to absorb and utilize nutrients becomes less efficient, their nutrient requirements (particularly as a function of body mass) actually increase.” Tucker concluded that one of the most important things we can do for the aging population is to ensure good dietary intake.

The risk nutrients that many older adults are not getting enough of, according to Tucker, include protein, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamins B6, B12 and E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. On the other hand, older populations are getting too much folate and sodium. Dietary supplementation with these necessary nutrients can ameliorate this nutritional lack in older populations. Advancements in longevity research have been consistently on the rise, making ingredients on the market more varied and accessible for those who want to slow down the process of aging or lessen the accompanying symptoms.

The Evolution of the Healthy Aging Market

Nowadays, the aging population is more focused on living better rather than living longer, and there has been a sharp rise in demand for natural healthy aging products as the older population steadily increases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 billion people will be 60 and older by 2050, up from 1 billion in 2020. Currently, people aged 60 and older outnumber children under 5. It comes as no surprise, then, that demand for healthy aging products is on the rise.

When it comes to recent developments in the healthy aging market, Tim Hammond, vice president of sales and marketing, Bergstrom Nutrition, related that “instead of pigeonholing itself into one category, healthy aging has moved toward being more about overall wellness in general. The ability to function at high physical and cognitive levels, remain socially engaged, retain a youthful appearance, and continue to be relevant and productive are all important pieces of the puzzle.”

Another evolution in the healthy aging market involves longevity-related research. Annie Eng, CEO of HP Ingredients located in Florida, has focused exclusively on natural botanical extracts scientifically supported for healthy aging. According to Eng, “there is much activity planned in the longevity industry, especially in the medical realm.” This includes research into regeneration, the development of small molecular drugs that clear senescent cells via the FOX-4-p53 pathway, which may treat osteoarthritis and frailty. She continued, “researchers now believe that autophagy is a survival mechanism that has anti-aging benefits. It helps to clear damaged cells from the body, including senescent cells and damaged cells which trigger inflammatory pathways and contribute to various diseases. Natural compounds that can encourage autophagy can promote longevity and anti-aging, such as Paractin Andrographis extract and Bergamonte extract, which activate autophagy activities.”

Brien Quirk, director of R&D at Draco Natural Products located in San Jose, CA, echoed Eng: “The market has shown tremendous growth due to the advances of nutrigenomics and longevity research in the last roughly 15 years, focusing on natural bioactives such as resveratrol, berberine, honokiol, cycloastragenol and many others.” He continued, “there will always be a natural product-based demand from consumers who wish to avoid genetic manipulation.” A Market Analysis Report on www.grandviewresearch.com shows that the natural personal care market size was valued at $1.53 billion (U.S.) in 2017, and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 9.6 percent by 2025. “With increasing awareness regarding the harmful effects of chemical products on the human body, consumers are being encouraged to adopt natural products.”

According to Dr. Rick Kozlenko, GCI science and functional food advisory, and David Pihlcrantz, MPH, technical director, GCI Nutrients in California, “the growing base of knowledge and disciplined scientific studies is contributing immense insights in better matching the kinds of substances to the multifaceted and extremely complex factors related to ‘aging’ than ever before … fine-tuning with more precise formulation concepts with a number of better-understood botanicals and bioactive substances, such as resveratrol and stilbenes, ursolic and oleanolic acids from fruits, vegetables and olives—have relevance in anti-aging dietary supplement strategy.” All in all, the anti-aging category is continuously growing, ingredients and supplements are more accessible than ever and recent advancements in research are driving the expanding growth.

Recent Trends and Consumer Demands

There have been a few particular trends that professionals in the industry have noticed throughout recent years. Kristen Marshall, digital marketing manager, Verdure Sciences (Indiana) said she has seen “growing interest in many botanicals with limited supply, creating an inherent need for clean label ingredients with transparent and traceable initiatives.” She continued, “The healthy aging category has, historically, been a relatively broad category. We are seeing that this category is splitting into more specific categories, such as immune support, cognitive support, skin support, joint health and sleep support, for example.” Indeed, there are several different supplements for each of these categories on the market, and that number is continuously growing.

As mentioned, the age range of consumers looking for natural healthy aging products has widened. According to Dr. Liki von Oppen-Bezalel, business development director with New York-based TriNutra Ltd., “consumers looking for healthy aging solutions typically start when they are in their mid-40s and its importance grows as they continue to age. This is because the 40-50 age range is when some significant changes in physiology become noticeable for both men and women.” Another trend that von Oppen-Bezalel noticed was that “consumers are grasping the link between taking care of multiple aspects of health and beauty. Healthy aging done right is just that and it often works from the inside out.”

Kozlenko and Pihlcrantz related the importance of keeping mitochondrial function in mind: “the microbiome, the remarkable relationship we are discovering more and more of how our metabolism, as well as immune integrity, are of immense and growing recognition. The importance of the mitochondrial and thus such supplements as PQQ are gaining great favor.”

Some additional recent trends were noted by Quirk: “Low carb and ketogenic diets have shown benefits for slowing cognitive aging, improving healthy cardio aging, and improving lean body mass—and we have responded accordingly with our formulations to include botanicals that help facilitate fat metabolism and energy.”

Furthermore, Marshall mentioned that “more recently, consumers have been drawn to maintain health and wellbeing for the long-term with an emphasis on the aspects of immune support and overall wellbeing. This interest has grown immensely in the mass market with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” According to Cashtyn Loven, marketing manager, Cargill Health Technologies, “throughout the supplement market, immune health has been the big story. Nutrition Business Journal estimated that sales of immunity-related supplements would reach $5 billion by year’s end and suggested that 10 percent of all U.S. supplement sales in 2020 would be for immune support.” Indeed, the pandemic has shed light on how important it is to maintain immune health, particularly as we age, as older populations are at higher risk of facing severe complications.

Finally, another popular trend driving the healthy aging market, according to Marianne McDonagh, vice president of sales with Minnesota-based Bioenergy Life Science, Inc., is “the concept of personalized nutrition … as age, height, weight and health conditions or concerns are factored into personalized formulas, consumers are learning to connect ingredients with specific conditions and/or benefits. Consumers are also becoming aware that newer, science-backed healthy aging ingredients address both appearance and health from the inside out.”

The Ingredients Meeting Consumer Demands

There is a vast supply of ingredients on the market today that support several aspects of healthy aging, from physical to cognitive. Marshall discussed Verdure Sciences’ ingredient, “patented Longvida Optimized Curcumin, which utilizes solid lipid curcumin particle technology (SLCP) to create a natural formulation that enables the protection and delivery of free curcumin to the brain, which in turn allows for cognitive health support at a low daily dose of only 400 mg/day.”

Curcumin was voted to be the “Cognition Supplement of the Year: 2021” by MCI911, a new information service and clearinghouse formed to disseminate news, advice and research findings that might aid patients in fending off, halting or even reversing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). According to Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, FIDSA and founder and CEO of MCI911.com, “medical journals reveal many positive reports of this natural food supplement aiding cognition maintenance and even improvement.” Curcumin, therefore, is one of the most beneficial cognitive supplements that people can take, especially the older population and those who may be suffering from MCI.

According to Marshall, significant improvements in aspects of cognitive function were observed with use of their Longvida Optimized Curcumin, “including decreased fatigue, tension, anger and confusion, as well as improvements to working memory, concentration, spatial memory and learning, and total mood.” She continued, “the hippocampus is the first area of the brain to be attacked by the onset of AD and Longvida improved spatial memory and learning by 31 percent in the hippocampus (Cox KH et al. 2020).”

TriNutra Ltd. developed two successful products for the healthy aging market: ThymoQuin, a dietary supplement, and B’utyQuin, a cosmetic ingredient. von Oppen-Bezalel related that “the key healthy aging roles of both ThymoQuin and B’utyQuin are focused on boosting mitochondrial functions that slow down with age, as well as delivering phenomenal support toward a balanced inflammatory response. Inflammation is one major reason for premature aging and is called inflammaging.” Both ingredients are from their cold-pressed, full spectrum and standardized black cumin oil. They are able to help boost the mitochondrial functions that typically slow down with age, which in turn helps to improve ATP (energy) production, respiration and metabolism, as well as reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

HP Ingredients has several different ingredients that deal with healthy aging, as listed by Annie Eng. ParActin, for instance, “activates the Antioxidant Response Element (ARE) signal pathways, increasing antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD), heme oxygenese-1, and catalase.” This product aids in immune health, healthy inflammation control, mobility support, joint support, bone health and muscle health. Their Bergamonte flavonoids aid in lipid profile support, blood sugar support, weight management and metabolic health. Furthermore, they have an ingredient specifically for men, which increases “total, free testosterone and DHEA levels, improving aging male symptoms score and their quality-of-life score.” Lastly, their newest ingredient, IQ200, “is a water-soluble, high antioxidant food-based herb, Persicaria minor (also known as Polygonum minus) to help improve memory and cognitive performance in young and older adults.” The wide range of ingredients from HP demonstrates how varied the healthy aging market is, and how many different ingredients can aid the aging population both physically and mentally.

Kozlenko and Pihlcrantz noted that “the big hitters still are resveratrol, turmeric, green tea and omega-3” in the healthy aging category. However, some of the “rising starts for anti-aging are PQQ, collagen extracts, and trending and still being actively researched, various NAD precursors.”

Adding to the recognition of these trends, Quirk said that “NAD+ precursor compounds, such as NMN and NR and senolytics, are the most popular lately and have taken away some of the momentum from resveratrol and telomerase activator-based ingredients; however, some consumers are utilizing all of the above.” Draco Herbs sells a Gotu kola extract standardized to 10 percent triterpenes, and “the bioactive triterpene compounds from the Gotu kola used in the study had an amazing telomerase activating effect at relatively low concentration levels, and is fairly well orally absorbed from the other studies I’ve read.”

Cargill Health Technologies primarily focuses on immune health, which becomes less robust with age. “While postbiotics like EpiCor are relative newcomers to the supplement space, they’ve already begun to generate some significant buzz with both consumers and consumer media outlets,” said Loyan. In 2018, Cargill acquired Diamond V, including its EpiCor product. “As we gain a more complete understanding of how postbiotics contribute to immune and gut health, we believe products containing postbiotics are on track to become a top choice for consumers.”

Bergstrom Nutrition has their ingredient OptiMSM, which “has demonstrated utility in several areas related to healthy aging. Studies show oral supplementation of MSM supports joint health and mobility, reduces muscle soreness after exercise and supports healthy skin,” said Hammond. He continued: “Several recently published studies also point to how OptiMSM could be combined with other active ingredients in broader categories related to healthy aging.” For instance, recently published studies have demonstrated that MSM forumulated with Cannabis Extracts support healthy liver function and glutathione synthesis. OptiMSM has been shown to down-regulate the expression of inflammatory markers as well as reduce oxidative stress and muscle damage—and ultimately it can help deter the accumulation of oxidative damage that develops through aging and stress on the body.

Lastly, Bioenergy Life Science, Inc.’s ingredient RiaGev, according to McDonagh, “simultaneously increases NAD, ATP and GSH, which has never been done before. RiaGev boosts energy while balancing the stress associated with energy production,” she said, adding that “ingredients such as resveratrol and quercetin, once staples for the healthy aging market, have been somewhat overtaken by new innovative ingredients over the last five years.”

Branded vs. Unbranded Ingredients and Credibility Concerns

Overall, it seems that branded healthy aging ingredients take precedence over unbranded ingredients as consumers grow increasingly concerned about credibility and science-backed research. However, cost is a serious consideration.

“Trends have stayed relatively consistent in that branded ingredients offer more evidence, substantiation and in many cases, more solid quality assurance and transparency,” said Marshall. In addition, she added that there has been “an increased demand for credible, reliable solutions through ingredients backed by scientific rigor, supported with a robust quality program, as well as sustainable, traceable and transparent initiatives.”

Echoing this, Kozlenko and Pihlcrantz said that “branded ingredients with good companies with integrity typically have a body of research that backs the product and offers a better story, more trust, more product recourse, than unbranded products that may be interpreted by the consumer as ‘cheaper’ manufacturing alternatives.”

On the flip side, Quirk disagreed with the general consensus, pointing to the fact that “many of the ingredients are very pricey and consumers often want a lower cost ‘generic’ equivalent.” Sometimes there are exceptions, however, he continued, like “telomerase activating blends that are proprietary and not available as ‘generic.’”

Overall, it seems that most consumers who know what they are looking for tend to seek out science-based confirmation that what they will be putting into their bodies is scientifically tested and proven to have effects on the mind and body. This trend is visible within not only the healthy aging market, but the entire natural products industry. McDonagh warns that “since consumers may not always feel an immediate benefit from these ingredients, and they will likely be asked to pay a higher price for research-backed healthy aging products, it is incumbent on BLS and other research-based ingredient suppliers to invest in the marketing necessary to reach and teach the formulators, marketers and consumers. We must educate various audiences about why science-backed ingredients are the right choice.”

What Manufacturers Look for

The overall consensus is that when it comes to what manufacturers want to see from a new ingredient, formal clinical trials in healthy human subjects are “the gold standard,” noted Kozlenko and Pihlcrantz. Particularly, they are always looking for placebo-controlled human studies and randomized controlled trials (RTCs), said Lovan.

“It’s always a great idea to show lab data if available of actual results from a particular bioactive in terms of absorption, blood levels and therapeutic response. Clinical studies are the most valuable to product manufacturers, but also background research about the mechanism of action, absorption, toxicity, etc.,” said Quirk.

All in all, what manufacturers want to see is the proof behind the effectiveness of a new ingredient. Without science-backed human studies, there is no way to know for sure whether the ingredient is completely safe for human consumption.

The Benefits of Healthy Aging Ingredients

Healthy aging is an important market for a growing number of consumers, from those entering middle age to those entering their golden years.

There are various concerns that consumers are faced with as they age, and taking the right supplements with the right ingredients is an effective way to combat them. Whether they are facing mild cognitive decline, joint pain or stiffness, muscle soreness, fatigue or negative mood, there are ingredients available that can aid in ameliorating them all. The best route to take is to start utilizing these ingredients early in order to prevent some of these uncomfortable aspects before they begin to manifest. NIE

For More Information:

Bergstrom Nutrition, www.bergstromnutrition.com
Bioenergy Life Science, Inc., www.bioenergylifescience.com
Cargill Health Technologies, www.cargill.com
Draco Herbs, www.draconatural.com
GCI Nutrients, www.gcinutrients.com
HP Ingredients, www.hpingredients.com
TriNutra, www.trinutra.com
Verdure Sciences, www.vs-corp.com

Albion Minerals®