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Moving Through the Ages

Bone, Muscle & Joint Health Bone, Muscle & Joint Health

Bone, muscle and joint health are categories rife with opportunity—if you know how to use ingredients to target the generations effectively.

The command, “Move!” can be met with different reactions, as follows: “Well, ok, then!” – Millennials. “Um, gimme a sec.” – Generation X. “Do I really have to right now?” – Baby Boomers.

All three generations are dietary supplement consumers and for the most part are prevention-oriented. Their needs when it comes to ensuring ache-free mobility are different—but no less provocative for formulating swift sellers for each.


Younger people in their 20s and early 30s tend not to think about moving around, doing things, being active, unless they pull a muscle, tear a ligament or break a bone. But, the current generation of young adults, Millennials, are a little different than their parents and grandparents at that age.

“Like their previous counterparts, Millennials may still consider themselves invulnerable, but for many, reality sinks in quickly,” asserted Nena Dockery, technical services manager for Stratum Nutrition in Missouri. They are less physically active on a regular basis, exchanging actual outdoor activities for virtual reality. Most of them have jobs that involve more sitting in front of a computer screen, and free time that may involve physically nothing more than exchanging the laptop screen for the smartphone screen. More Millennials are overweight or even obese.”

As such, this screen time-oriented lifestyle has had powerful effects on their physical health and mobility, she added. Long durations working or gaming on a computer and hunched over a phone can cause painful changes to the joints in the neck and back. Even though many pump iron in the gym, the combination of overall lack of more sustained physical activity interrupted by short periods of perhaps intense exercise injure the skeletal structure thus predisposing them to the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. And, it puts extra stress on underutilized muscles, ligaments and tendons.

“Many Millennials also consume a diet that is highly processed and deficient in critical nutrients. These diets contribute to chronic inflammation, further exacerbating damage to joints and muscles,” she added.

A different viewpoint on Millennials’ overall mobility status is offered by Deanne Dolnick, science director with Georgia-based TR Nutritionals, who noted that Millennials are the first generation that have grown up with chiropractic care as part of a typical health regimen, instead of it being an “alternative.” This mainstream embracement of chiropractic care by Millennials is beneficial for supporting bone, joint and muscle health. Further, Millennials tend to enjoy more intense workouts—notably CrossFit. “Starting this type of a workout at a young age lends itself to hip problems earlier in life as well as many pulled muscles and potentially greater joint problems in the future,” she warned.

Manel Romeu Bellés, industry marketing manager with Arla Foods Ingredients in New Jersey, agreed, noting that Millennials tend to place importance on muscle mass as they prioritize looking and feeling good, attaining sports-related performance goals, and maintaining a healthy weight. So too does Rick Antonoff, president, Novel Ingredient Services of New Jersey, who asserts, “Millennials work out harder and more frequently than any generation before them. They are likely to partake in physical activity with a social component, where they push each other to be their best. They are fans of innovative fitness movements like CrossFit, Bootcamp, Zumba, SoulCycle, and other strenuous workouts that place wear and tear on their bodies. This high-intensity exercise is great for the mental and physical components of health, but it may also put excessive stress on the soft tissue and joints. So, it is not uncommon for Millennials to experience over-exertion, joint pain, as well as sports injuries. Maintaining flexibility is critical in trying to prevent these conditions.”

Meanwhile, there is another potentially insidious condition that begins at around age 30—sarcopenia, an age-related loss of muscle tissue. Neerav D. Padliya, PhD, vice president of research alliances at New Jersey-based Qurr, pointed out, “Beginning at the age of 30, people can lose between 2 to 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade. This has important consequences as it relates to mobility as we rely upon our muscle tissue for both our mobility and maintaining balance. By making muscle health a priority at an early age, Millennials can circumvent muscle loss as they age.”

Summarizing, formulating mobility support supplements for Millennials may certainly be an extension of the sports nutrition/fitness category. Taking a quick scan—powders and drinks in exotic flavors (beyond the conventional chocolate and vanilla) tend to be very attractive for men and women in this generation.

Generation X

Americans currently in their late 30s through early 50s are squarely in middle age—and that term for most has hit them in the face with the reverberating “whap” of an old-timey vaudevillian fish-slap.

As a Generation Xer, Dolnick is very candid, noting that she and her friends are in their 40s and 50s, “and for some reason, we never thought that we were going to have the health problems that we all seem to be experiencing,” she related. “For those of us who have had a healthy lifestyle for years, we are feeling it in our joints. We thought that if we worked out, that we would all be fine and never experience the problems that the Baby Boomers experience. Wrong! We are experiencing problems even younger. Hip pain seems to be the most predominant problem. You pull a muscle in your twenties and you’re better in a day or two. You pull a muscle in your forties and fifties and it can last for weeks.”

Professional athletes in this age group can feel the burn of mobility issues. Dolnick revealed that a buddy who is a former pro basketball player said to her that if he sprints, “something is going to get injured.”

Bellés agreed, noting that Gen Xers are feeling signs of aging that have begun to manifest, and many will start to feel onset of mobility issues that may worsen later in life. This generation, he says, is “often too busy to exercise regularly—largely because of work and family commitments.”

Generation X, said Eric Withee, sales director, Washington-based Bergstrom Nutrition, is embroiled in a mix of issues—family obligations, exercise and work still keep most of them active but they are beginning to experience the discomfort and occasional aches of aging/wear and tear. “They are looking to maintain function and activity, but are also keeping an eye on the future as they age, making prevention a key issue,” he commented.

Antonoff observed that Gen Xers are juggling childcare, home ownership, and reaching the peak of their careers. That said, they also have a peculiarity—they are an “all or nothing generation,” according to the Physical Activity Council’s 2017 Participation Report that tracks sports, fitness, and recreation; almost 60 percent of Gen Xers exercise or play sports regularly, while approximately 25 percent are completely inactive.

But regardless of activity level, he underscored, Gen Xers are beginning to experience mobility issues that can lead to arthritis and osteoporosis, and yet, “they expect to continue working as they age, while caring for their parents, adult children and even grandchildren. They clearly want to live long and healthy lives. Fortunately, since Gen Xers are in the prime of their lives, they are in ideal positions to take control of their health and change their behaviors to make a positive impact on their health today and in the future.”

Gen Xers, emphasized Dockery, are probably the busiest generation, as they are still growing careers and families, weighed down with the responsibilities, and physical limitations begin to become more apparent. For many, the extra 10 pounds of weight have edged up to 20, and this is often the point when many Gen Xers are motivated to begin a regular exercise regimen. “Some Generation Xers may also begin to feel some morning stiffness after a previous day’s physical activity, especially if they have experienced past injuries to knees and elbows. This may be an ideal time to begin considering supplements to help support skeletal and muscle health,” she said.

Gen Xers most likely have some degree of muscle loss compared to when they were in their 20s, according to Padliya. However, it is certainly possible for this group to improve their muscle health through regular resistance training and sound nutrition. “Not only will improvements in muscle mass lead to improvements in mobility, it will lead to improved blood sugar stability and reduce the odds of developing type 2 diabetes, as muscle tissue has very high requirements for glucose and plays a vital role in glucose metabolism,” she assured.

In summary, Gen Xers are dealing with overflowing plates of responsibilities and related stress; exercise is often somewhat intermittent, as other priorities rear up, and of course metabolism is slowing down, making the battle of the belly bulge akin to bringing plastic sporks to a knife fight. The desire to remain flexible and strong (mobility) without aches and stiffness is strong, but they need to rely on supplements to help deliver the nutrients to joints and muscles (and bone) for preservation.

Baby Boomers

Joint discomfort and potential need for hip or knee replacements most certainly is not a “groovy” kind of feeling. But many Baby Boomers, who are in their 60s and 70s, have already had to deal with the onset of joint degradation and its impact on impeding mobility. And many of them, despite years of calcium consumption, may also be slowly developing porous, brittle bones. Dolnick stated, “Baby Boomers predominantly suffer from arthritis and osteoporosis.”

Further, according to Dr. Padliya, loss of muscle tissue accelerates at age 60 and on, and this both impacts mobility and even balance, increasing odds of an injurious tumble. A priority among many Baby Boomers is to relieve discomfort and diminish symptoms associated with age-related conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, Withee pointed out. “Relieving pain and symptoms increase daily functions and quality of life, while addressing some of the root problems, such as inflammation and bone density, can help reduce injuries and lead to more active lifestyles,” he said.

Baby Boomers, Antonoff described “are knee-deep into age-related ailments.” After 50, he explained, we can lose up to half a pound of muscle mass annually. Unlike the previously discussed younger generations, Boomers in general began regularly exercising later in life; consider that “in 1968, fewer than 24 percent of American adults exercised regularly. But many Baby Boomers who eventually embraced exercise regimens tended to do the same thing over and over. This has led to joint breakdowns and replacements.

Meanwhile, he added, Baby Boomers expect to work beyond typical retirement age while also trying to stay more physically active than any previous generation before them. They’re living longer and investing in their health. The strategy of muscle conditioning and minimizing joint discomfort will help keep Boomers mobile and resistant to dramatic impact if they fall.

Unlike their previous generations that felt resigned to their aches and pains as they got older, many Boomers “have entered their senior years with the same sense of rebellion that they were known for in the 60s and 70s,” Dockery described. Many want to remain active and many also have begun and will begin new athletic endeavors in this later life stage. The downside of this is that new physical activity may more easily lead to injury than when they were younger, and also recovery isn’t as quick.

In summary, Baby Boomers know they cannot avoid more aches and pains in joints and pulled muscles experienced now compared to when they were younger. As the first generation to significantly consume—and innovate—dietary supplements, they will incorporate those that provide structural support and enhance or at least protect function.

Of course, not all bone, joint and muscle problems are generation specific. Joe Weiss, president of New York-based Nutrition 21 pointed out that problems with bones, joints and muscle can be due to weight and sedentary lifestyle, but can also have a genetic component or be due to a previous injury.

Meanwhile, overall, observed Pauline Huang, product and brand manager, Peptan, based in The Netherlands, “throughout every generation, people across the world are changing the way they approach life. Whether it’s to feel healthier, to support the body during sport activities or to age actively, achieving optimal health and well-being has become one of consumers’ top concerns. Among the latest diets and trends, staying active ranks top of the list. And, in order to keep the body active, all the components of the musculoskeletal system, including the muscles, bones and joints, require the correct nutrients.”

Nutraceutical Considerations

There are numerous ingredients with scientific portfolios that can be used to formulate a host of mobility support supplements in the form of pills, powders, chewables and beverages.

Bergstrom Nutrition’s OptiMSM methylsulfonylmethane that is “ideal” for mobility, said Rod Benjamin, director of research, development and technical support. Data has shown that it supports the joints, bones and muscles through various mechanisms of action. Specifically, he explained, downregulation of NF-kB signaling, impeding activation of NLRP3 inflammasome, mediates coordinated mechanisms of both NF-kB and STAT3 in osteoclastogenesis, and can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. It provides such a wide range of efficacy due to its 34 percent sulfur by weight content. “Sulfur from MSM has been shown to be incorporated into the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine in-vivo. Several clinical trials have shown MSM supports healthy joints and range of motion and may even help preserve cartilage,” he said.

Similarly, Paractin, from Florida-based HP Ingredients has been shown to promote healthy mobility via several mechanisms of action. Paractin is a patented extract of Andrographis paniculata (US Patent 8,084,495), clinically shown to activate PPAR gamma and inhibit NFkappaB, the key regulator of the immune and inflammatory response system. NFkappaB is deactivated, pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that cause pain and inflammation can be reduced. “Our research has shown Paractin to significantly reduce COX-2, TNF-alpha, Interleukin 2 and Interferon gamma,” summarized Annie Eng, CEO. Several human clinical trials in people with rheumatoid arthritis have shown Paractin to be effective in normalizing hematocrit, hemogloblin, and to reduce C-reactive protein and rheumatoid factor, resulting in participants showing improvement in joint function and mobility.

Eggs yield a couple of ingredients shown to improve and/or preserve mobility. Qurr’s Fortetropin is a fertilized egg yolk-derived ingredient that is processed using patented technology to retain the natural, bioactive compounds found in egg yolk while effectively eliminating harmful pathogens. According to Padliya, in a double blind, placebo-controlled human clinical, individuals who consumed Fortetropin daily while performing moderate resistance training gained significant increases in muscle mass compared to subjects who received a macro-nutrient matched placebo.

Stratum Nutrition’s NEM eggshell membrane, is derived from the inner membrane of a chicken eggshell. One 500 mg daily dose of NEM, said Dockery, has been shown to help support joint comfort and flexibility in both those with current joint discomfort and in a healthy population where pain and stiffness are induced by exercise; the ingredient has six human clinicals to support it. NEM has also been shown to to help protect joint cartilage from degradation. “Because the efficacious dose of NEM is only 500 mg and because it contains a small amount of naturally occurring elemental calcium, NEM is a logical fit for a combined bone and joint formula,” she explained. “In addition, NEM’s absorption and metabolism do not interfere with the metabolism of other active ingredients, so it can be combined for a multi-ingredient formula.”

Because aging causes the body to slow down collagen production, which leads to thinning cartilage, reduction in bone mass density and loss of strength, replenishing the building blocks of collagen (which also comprises up to 80 percent of bone protein content) may make sound sense, according to Huang. Peptan collagen peptides is a form of hydrolyzed collagen with high levels of amino acids such as glycine and hydroxyproline, aimed at supporting joint health and the musculoskeletal system. A recent study on animals with induced osteoarthritis showed that “Peptan supplementation could help preserve the cartilage area during osteoarthritis development and aid regeneration through stimulating chondrocyte cells and proteoglycan synthesis. The study also showed that Peptan can be effective in reducing inflammation, by normalizing synovial thickness and reducing the production of the inflammatory marker tumour necrosis factor (TNF),” Huang said, adding that it supports a previous clinical trial of women with knee joint degradation showing that 8 g of Peptan daily lessened discomfort and improved mobility.

Acumin Turmeric Complex from Novel Ingredient Services provides turmeric’s “whole food footprint rather than just the active curcumin,” according to Antonoff. As such it contains a minimum of 45 percent curcuminoids plus standardized levels of more than 200 nutrients naturally present in turmeric root including polysaccharides, fiber, turmerone oil, and turmerin fiber. It is this unique composition that is responsible for its greater bioavailability.

Acumin is created using a patented process in which the critical turmeric nutrients are standardized and blended back together within a natural turmeric matrix, which consists of hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules, a combination Antonoff said “protects the active compounds, provides controlled curcuminoid release and increases absorbability. Acumin has been found to be 10 times more bioavailable than normal curcumin and five to six times more bioavailable than the leading enhanced-absorption turmeric ingredients.”

TR Nutritionals, noted Dolnick, offers turmeric extract 95 percent curcuminoids and at the end of 2016, the company signed a U.S. exclusivity agreement with Prakruti Products Pvt, a leading Indian botanical extract manufacturer. “Turmeric/curcumin has become one of the most popular products to support joint health,” she underscored. However, she cautioned, “there are serious adulteration issues with this extract. TR Nutritionals strongly recommends that all manufacturers and contract manufacturers test their Turmeric for synthetic adulterants by radiocarbon and staple isotope ratio analysis. TR Nutritionals offers only 100 percent natural turmeric extract 95 percent powder.”

Dolnick added that in the healthy mobility category, TR Nutritionals also offers glucosamine HCl and glucosamine sulfate 2KCl, both sourced from 100 percent shellfish, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid.

Another Indian herb that has been shown to support joint health is AyuFlex, from New Jersey-based Natreon, Inc., developed from the ayurvedic edible fruit, Terminalia chebula. Aparna Trikha, Pharm.D., technical sales and marketing manager, pointed to a new published study showing its benefits in moderately osteoarthritic subjects. Results from this study showed that consumption of 500 mg AyuFlex twice daily for 12 weeks exerted significant improvements in WOMAC scores compared to placebo (36 percent reduction vs. 4.52 percent in placebo). The therapeutic benefit, she highlighted, was evident in as little as four weeks, and the response seemed to have a linear relationship with dose. This study, Trikha noted, supports the analgesic efficacy of AyuFlex and validates two previous human studies in healthy human volunteers at 10,000 mg dose.

For years considered the product of Arnold Schwarzenegger-type serious bodybuilders, whey proteins have become embraced by more people. According to Bellés, they provide many benefits related to supporting mobility. These include building and maintaining muscle mass and reducing body fat mass, thereby helping to achieve the desired BMI in healthy ranges, as well as promotes healthy tendons and muscle connective tissues.

Arla Foods offers whey protein hydrolysates, which are absorbed more quickly than standard protein sources, as well as Alpha-lactalbumin, a specialized whey protein fraction that may accelerate achievement of a healthy body composition and enhanced recovery. In addition, Arla Foods offers milk minerals that benefit mobility by a) “supporting normal functioning of muscles and numerous other body functions securing health and daily life activities, and b) reducing body fat mass by preventing some fat absorption in the intestine; and building and maintaining bone density and strength.

To add to that, Nutrition 21 supplies Velositol amylopectin chromium complex, clinically shown to significantly enhance the effects of whey protein—significantly increasing muscle protein synthesis, a key to muscle growth, according to Weiss.

Who has time to stop moving? NIE

For More Information:
Arla Foods Inc. USA, (800) 243-3730
Bergstrom Nutrition, (888) 733-5676
HP Ingredients, (877) 437-2234
Natreon, (732) 296-1080
Novel Ingredient Services, (973) 808-5900
Nutrition 21, (914) 701-4500
Qurr, (973) 509-0444
Stratum Nutrition, (800) 970-4479
TR Nutritionals, (404) 935-5761

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