Four years ago, the staff of Nutrition Industry Executive (NIE) was looking for a way to highlight the most cutting-edge and advanced natural branded nutritional ingredients backed by science. As a result, the NIE Awards were created.
To be considered, the ingredients needed to be launched since Oct. 1, 2020, for use in supplements, functional foods and beverages. The competition was open to manufacturers of ingredients from all over the globe who are supplying natural finished product companies in the United States.
The six award categories consisted of Condition Specific, Sports Nutrition, Healthy Aging, Excipients/Non-active/Delivery, Weight Management and Personal Care/Cosmetics. After careful consideration, NIE’s editorial staff, along with an expert panel of judges, chose a total of nine winners.
Criteria was based on:
• Product Research/Evidence/Bioavailability
• Sustainability/Traceability/Certifications (if applicable)
• Consumer Need
• The “Impressiveness Factor”
Congratulations to the fourth annual NIE Award winners!
The judges are:
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), Senior Director of Product Innovation, Twinlab Consolidation Corporation (TCC), Boca Raton, FL
Jacqueline Jacques, ND, FTOS, Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs, Thorne, New York, NY
Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education, EuroPharma Inc., Maker of Terry Naturally, Green Bay, WI
Darrin Duber-Smith, Senior Lecturer, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO
Yair Steve Henig, PhD, Chief Science Officer, Caligenix, Founder of Henig Consulting, Los Angeles, CA
Condition Specific Category
1st Place: BeniCaros
NutriLeads BV, Wageningen, Netherlands, +31 6-12500764, www.nutrileads.com
BeniCaros is a first-of-its-kind food, beverage and supplement ingredient that delivers multiple immune health benefits, according to the company. It is a bioactive polysaccharide (fiber) known as cRG-I (rhamnogalacturonan-I) derived from upcycled carrot pomace. BeniCaros trains the immune system to be fit and respond more efficiently when challenged, the company stated. It works through a dual mode of action that both prepares innate immune cells and stimulates beneficial gut microorganisms that support immune responses.
Impressed, Myers stated that the ingredient is “interesting, as it acts as a prebiotic and also acts on the immune system. [There is] decent scientific validation, [and it’s] made from carrots, [which is a] nice selling point.”
A recently published peer-reviewed clinical trial demonstrated that just 300 mgs daily of BeniCaros accelerated protective immune responses and significantly reduced the severity and duration of symptoms after a controlled challenge with a common cold virus. Additional research supports BeniCaros’ unique mechanism of action that is unlike any other immune health ingredient, according to the company.
“I like this novel nutraceutical from carrot pomace, with two human clinical studies demonstrating effectiveness in immune health, with concurrent prebiotic benefits,” said Bruno.
BeniCaros is a patented, clean-label, GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient. Its formulation profile (odorless, tasteless, water soluble and heat and pH stable) makes it ideal for a wide range of products and formats. BeniCaros is halal, kosher, vegan, vegetarian and non-GMO (gentically modified organism). It meets strong consumer demand for proactive immune support in a convenient, small daily serving size of 300 mgs.
Henig stated, “BeniCaros is safe to use and can easily be consumed on a daily basis by a wide range of consumers. It is well sourced and characterized from field to point of use. The supporting scientific and clinical research documents are of very good quality and help substantiate a structure function claim that the ingredient can support the immune system.”
Condition Specific Category
2nd Place: MorActive
NutriScience Innovation, Milford, CT, (203) 372-8877, www.nutriscienceusa.com
MorActive is a new, patented extract from the moringa seed (Moringa oleifera), standardized to >20 percent benzyl glucosinolate (glucomoringin) for back discomfort. The seeds contain high levels of glucosinolates; these sulfur-containing compounds have been found to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Moringa leaves are well-known as a superfood; however, this is the first use of the seed, according to the company.
MorActive has been shown in a clinical study to be effective in reducing the severity of lower back discomfort and fatigue at a low dose. Glucomoringin, the active component in MorActive, is converted in the body to moringin, which is an isothiocyanate. Moringin has been shown to exhibit strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Oxidative stress and inflammation caused by active oxygen generated in the body is one of the major causes of physical discomfort associated with fatigue. Furthermore, moringin is shown to be a very effective and potent agonist of TRPA1—this ion channel is a known sensor for pain.
“There are few nutraceuticals showing benefit for back pain. MorActive shows impressive benefits for this purpose within two weeks,” said Bruno. MorActive moringa seed extract has been clinically studied for back discomfort and fatigue in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, clinical study. In this study, 40 males and females took a dose equivalent to 60 mg MorActive 20 percent extract or placebo, daily, for four weeks. The severity of physical discomfort and fatigue were evaluated by validated scoring scales. Significant changes in lower back discomfort scores were observed after just two weeks. Changes in fatigue scores were significant after four weeks. There was greater effect in those participants with more severe symptoms.
This strong science is what really sets MorActive apart from other ingredients positioned for back relief. Most formulas targeted at back discomfort often include vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that suggest back relief but have not been tested or clinically studied to actually aid back discomfort, the company stated. MorActive gives brands unique positioning supported by science and gives consumers the natural relief they seek, according to the company.
Sports Nutrition Category
1st Place: OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER
BIO-CAT, Inc., Troy, VA, (434) 589-4777, www.bio-cat.com
BIO-CAT’s OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER is a proprietary blend of enzymes which helps optimize protein digestion**, providing more protein performance without having to consume more grams of protein. Under simulated in vitro gastric conditions, OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER saw substantially more release of amino acids from protein, compared to other enzyme products.* Because of this, OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER not only allows consumers to get more from less, but it also allows companies to reduce waste (excess protein) and improve their claims on protein performance, while also supporting critical sustainability initiatives.
“More protein performance without having to eat a ton of beef jerky? Sign me up! This looks like a very good protein performance optimizer,” said Duber-Smith.
The effects of OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER supplementation on plant protein digestion was recently studied in a clinical trial of 24 healthy adults at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The primary endpoint of the trial focused on plasma amino acid concentrations following consumption of a plant-based protein shake (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04821557). BIO-CAT has received encouraging preliminary topline data from UIUC, and anticipates manuscript publication by early 2023, the company stated.
According to the company, OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER releases 100 percent more amino acids from whey protein, and 228 percent more BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) from plant protein.* Consumers are increasingly more concerned with the type (plant vs. animal), the source, the purity (clean label), and the efficacy (digestibility/BCAAs released) of the protein they are consuming. This is extremely important to keep in mind as a supplier, and the proven increase in in-vitro protein digestion* with OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER allows companies the opportunity to improve their product, to give consumers more from a product they already trust, and in turn build strength not only in their brand, but also in their end users. It also will assist companies in improving the performance of their plant protein products. Additionally, OPTIZIOME P3 HYDROLYZER is debuting in Iovate’s newest product launch, MuscleTech Plant Protein powder.
“This P3 hydrolyzer is interesting in the claim that it frees up amino acids from protein compared to other enzyme products. This is beneficial to maximize amino acids from protein intake,” Myers pointed out.
*Derived from standard in vitro gastric digestion experiments that showed increased amino acid liberation by P3 HYDROLYZER compared to two top competitors.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Healthy Aging Category
1st Place: Orai-KP FD (Organic Kakadu Plum Freeze Dried Powder)
Orgenetics, Brea, CA, (714) 575-0005, www.orgenetics.com
Orai-KP FD is organic Kakadu Plum freeze-dried powder from the vast expanses of Western Australia. It has an average assay of 20 percent organic vitamin C, ellagic and gallic acids, as well as lutein. This makes for a perfect ingredient addition for products related to hydration, eye health, immunity and anti-inflammatory, according to the company. It has a slightly sour to neutral taste, along with greenish color and natural shine—making it a great addition to food and beverage products, the company stated. The organic kakadu plum is wild harvested, helping support and sustain Australian aboriginal people.
“Who wouldn’t want an exotic superfruit from aboriginal Australia?” asked Duber-Smith. “The low sugar content really provides an edge for both formulators and marketers.”
Since the pandemic, more consumers than ever are looking closely at their purchases to ensure they are buying healthy products for themselves and their families. This includes interest in not only powerful clean label ingredients with easy to pronounce names, but also functional ones that can make a positive impact on themselves, their health and the people involved in the making of the products.
Orai-KP FD allows exactly that: it is an exotic superfruit from Australia that helps with immunity, eye health, inflammation and more—all the while helping formulators achieve a distinctively clean label.
It is one of the highest density superfruits, with low sugar and low calories, but high actives. The actives are widely recognized for their health and beneficial properties: vitamin C and lutein.
Myers, impressed by the submission after having learned about the superfruit, noted that “Anything with vitamin C and lutein will have healthy aging benefits.”
Perhaps the most impressive factor is that the high active/low sugar content allows for formulators to use our Orai-KP FD in a wide array of applications from capsules/tablets to functional foods/beverages, making a sizable addition to health claims and labels without a jump in sugars or calorie numbers.
Because Orai-KP FD is not extracted or concentrated, formulators can have a greater degree of freedom to use in food/beverage applications with Nutritional Facts panels.
2nd Place: Raiā-GSE (Natural Grape Seed Extract)
Orgenetics, Brea, CA, (714) 575-0005, www.orgenetics.com
Raiā-GSE is the company’s New Zealand grown, grape seed water extract, standardized for 60 percent polyphenols.
This ingredient has powerful anti-oxidative properties that is naturally a fit for skin health, inflammation and cosmeceutical applications, the company stated.
Raiā-GSE is an up-cycled ingredient, made from what is traditionally waste of the New Zealand sauvignon blanc wine industry.
Due to the pristine climate of the geographically isolated New Zealand, the UV light and coastal maritime air that hits the Marlborough region vineyards creates a unique combination of polyphenols in the sauvignon blanc grapes that is unseen elsewhere in the world, according to the company.
“Even though GSE is nothing new, I like the fact that this material I made from what is traditionally waste of the NZ wine industry—and there are plenty of studies on GSE,” Bruno said.
As people return to the office and schools, there is growing consumer interest and demand for aging well and taking care of their skin. There is even greater interest in plant based clean label products that help with skin health.
Grape seed extract has begun to pick up in popularity across a spectrum of industries because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and skin health properties. Some studies suggest that grape seed extract can help with UV radiation damage in adults, and also with healing scars. Raiā-GSE goes one step beyond traditional grape seed extracts because it is completely water extracted with no excipients or carriers, the company stated.
“An efficacious anti-oxidant that is upcycled out of the wine-making process is not only a neat sustainability selling point, but also makes for interesting branding. This is a cool take on a rather mature and somewhat dull grape seed extract category,” Duber-Smith noted.
Consumers relate to New Zealand as an idyllic country with beautiful rolling hills, greenery and amazing wines, perhaps rightfully so as the farming practices in New Zealand are such that they treat the Earth well to grow some of the cleanest crops.
Raiā-GSE is a Kosher Certified New Zealand Grape Seed Extract <60 percent polyphenols, which some may know is a major feat given Kashurat law.
Excipients/Non-actives/Delivery Systems Category
1st Place: Vitamin K2 Matrix
Gnosis by Lesaffre, Marcq-en-Baroeul, France, (609) 273-0494, www.gnosisbylesaffre.com
Matrix is a proprietary technology developed by Gnosis by Lesaffre R&D teams with two main objectives: 1) to facilitate the success of manufacturers by making it easier to create more complex formulations utilizing vitamin K2, and 2) to open new formulation opportunities.
For the first point, Matrix offers protection of vitamin K2 into the formulation, which is especially important when utilizing minerals. Ensuring stability is sometimes complex and requires managing several parameters like the source of minerals, manufacturing conditions, etc. With Matrix, we eliminate many of these concerns, allowing for a more streamlined process.
For the second point, the vitamin K2 market is expanding, and our customers (manufacturers) are eager to explore new creative and impactful formulations that stand out on crowded shelves. Many new players are entering this growing market (+30 percent new product launches per year since 2015, according to INNOVA database). With Matrix, brand owners can explore new ingredient combinations that deliver more health benefits in a single product. At the same time, formulators are not burdened by needing to add additional ingredients to labels that account for the protective technology.
“Solving the challenge of making vitamin K stable, especially in complex formulas, is something that should be appreciated by formulators and manufacturers,” stated Jacques.
Matrix was explicitly developed for vitamin K2; it is not an adaptation of an existing technology previously utilized for other ingredients. Matrix comes with no coating, no additive and no additional ingredient. It offers the shortest list of ingredients, limited to the active molecule and a carrier. Further, the Matrix technology will support supplements in traditional formats, such as tablets and capsules, that combine K2 with complex minerals, as well as fostering the penetration of vitamin K2 in new delivery systems such as ready-to-drink applications like protein or milk powders.
At its core, Matrix offers formulators versatility. Whether they are creating products based on synergistic combinations versus innovative complex formulations, or a traditional format versus a formulation that requires specific delivery technology, Matrix makes it easy to incorporate vitamin K2.
“The company provided technical support and described in detail the chemical and physical properties of the K-2 Matrix demonstrating good dispensability and bioavailability compared to other forms of vitamin K2,” said Henig.
In a nutshell, Vitamin K2 Matrix provides a clean label and natural protection to vitamin K2 in formulations to ensure consumer needs are met and health benefits of vitamin K2 are actually delivered.
Weight Management Category
1st Place: CurCousin
Sabinsa Corporation, East Windsor, NJ, (732) 777-1111, www.sabinsa.com
Newly launched CurCousin is Sabinsa’s branded ingredient containing Calebin A, after an extensive search for curcumin analogs naturally present in Curcuma longa and Curcuma caesia (black turmeric). Sabinsa’s scientists researched this molecule extensively and uncovered its great potential to balance cholesterol, and support healthy blood sugar levels and circulation—an excellent metabolic support compound. Because of the miniscule amounts present in natural sources, Sabinsa developed CurCousin with 99+ percent Calebin-A, synthetically as a nature-identical compound. The product has self-affirmed GRAS status and is clinically studied with a dosage of 25 mg twice a day and has 65 U.S. and international patents.
Calebin A is a biologically active phytochemical from the turmeric family, having similar structural features to curcumin and found in trace amounts in a few varieties of turmeric, such as C. longa and C. cassia. It belongs to a family of ferulate esters called calebenoids. It is more stable than curcumin in physiological medium with higher chemical stability in acidic and basic media, which is welcome news for formulating options, according to the company.
“As a marketing professional I am a sucker for a catchy brand name that also suggests what the product is all about. Heavily researched, this curcumin analog could make the cluttered weight management world much more interesting,” said Duber-Smith.
CurCousin has been extensively investigated as a potent biological molecule with varied mechanisms of action. It is effective in the management of metabolic syndrome by balancing the fat tissue hormones leptin and adiponectin. CurCousin also helps in the management of visceral fat accumulation and energy balance and thus helps in maintaining lean body mass, along with healthy liver function and lipid levels. The anti-inflammatory activity of CurCousin supports joint health, the company stated. The unique biological property of CurCousin helps to maintain a delicate equilibrium between bone resorption by osteoclasts and bone formation by osteoblasts, supporting bone health. CurCousin is supported by 64 granted patents globally for various metabolic activities.
The most impressive factor about CurCousin is that it can act upon multiple pathways associated with metabolism with a beneficial and profound effect in reducing the risk factors associated with development of metabolic syndrome, according to the company. CurCousin is tested in human participants and has proven safety records. A recent preclinical study discovered other healthful aspects of Calebin-A, namely its promotion of thermogenesis and favorable impact on gut microbiota. Further clinical studies on the product are ongoing on further uses of Calebin-A.
Personal Care/Cosmetics Category
1st Place: B’utyQuin
TriNutra, Harrison, NY, (801) 865-3703, www.trinutra.com
Black seed oil (BSO) has been recognized for its medicinal and beauty uses for thousands of years, and today, those benefits are extensively studied. TriNutra introduced the first patent-pending, cold-pressed, full-spectrum BSO, standardized to 3 percent thymoquinone and very low FFAs (2 percent).
“This standardization, along with its incredibly low free fatty acid content of less than 2 percent, creates a stable, consistent and potent product, giving it a more robust range of benefits than other generic black seed oils,” noted Myers.
B’utyQuin, TriNutra’s proprietary BSO, has been studied in vivo and in vitro to determine mechanisms related to mitochondrial biogenesis and revitalization, control of “inflamm-aging,” and microbial growth—all correlated with improved appearance and health of aging skin. The active was studied for various skin parameters and conditions, biomechanical properties (wrinkles, elasticity and tightening), luminosity, hydration and seborrhea, dandruff, scaling, redness and itch. Research established the safety, compatibility and efficacy of B’utyQuin as a topical anti-aging cosmetic aid and an active ingredient for the scalp, according to the company.
Further research into B’utyQuin revealed its benefits at a cellular level by improving mitochondrial functions, including ATP production for more efficient energy production within the skin, mitochondrial health, cellular metabolism and respiration associated with the Caloric Restriction Theory of Aging. Its antioxidant capacity also helps protect against oxidative stress to provide relief, restoration and protection from issues derived from excessive inflammation.
Solutions against “inflamm-aging,” inflammatory conditions that lead to premature aging, have also received increased demand over the last year. B’utyQuin’s main active, thymoquinone, provides potent support to the skin’s inflammatory response and improves its antioxidant capacity, helping to soothe and moisturize. Of additional consequence, the application of B’utyQuin helps to restore and tighten skin for improved protection. The result is skin that is healthier and more vibrant than before.
Lastly, B’utyQuin’s broad antimicrobial effects on fungi and bacteria have contributed to a healthy and balanced skin microbiome and, subsequently, a healthier appearance. The combination of many skin-relevant benefits leaves the skin energized, smooth, and hydrated, so consumers look and feel healthier and rejuvenated.
“An ingredient that tackles anti-aging issues by addressing inflammation is really cool. The added functional benefits of smoothing, soothing and brightening the skin makes this ingredient a multi-functional winner,” said Duber-Smith.
Upon studying the ingredient’s various effects on the skin and scalp, B’utyQuin displayed significant results in smoothing, soothing, and brightening the skin. Specifically, B’utyQuin improved ATP production by a minimum of 25 percent, up to 43 percent, compared to the placebo. Another study demonstrated that a 3 percent B’utyQuin facial cream had statistically significant and visible improvements within multiple parameters of aging skin, including hydration, luminosity, firmness and elasticity.
When measuring the effect of B’utyQuin on scalp itchiness, redness, irritation and scaling, 60 percent of subjects reported significant improvement to complete elimination of their symptoms after 28 days of treatment.
“The company’s clinical study showed good results and has nice, strong science behind the product. Strong sustainability and manufacturing, as well,” said Henig.
B’utyQuin expands its uses from skin and hair care to oral care like mouthwash and toothpaste to intimate care. It also can be formulated into several cosmetic applications to better serve the end customers, including, but not limited to, creams, oils, lotions and serums.
2nd Place: Lumenato
Lycored, Branchburg, NJ, (862) 221-1111, www.lycored.com
As one ages, the skin becomes more susceptible to the effects of environmental stress and it requires more upkeep to maintain its appearance. That’s where Lumenato can play a big role in conjunction with a comprehensive beauty regime, working hard from the inside out to keep skin looking and feeling healthy.
Lumenato can help balance cellular damage at the molecular level to calm the response of pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, the level of these nutrients naturally depletes over time, which is why it becomes increasingly more important to aid our skin in maintaining healthy carotenoid levels with supplements. That way, these potent antioxidants build up, like a “reservoir of goodness” to:
• Nourish the skin to maintain natural collagen levels
• Support the skin barrier integrity and the natural ceramide network
• Support skin immunity and overall vitality that is reflected in the skin
• Boost the skin’s ability to maintain its natural radiance and inner glow
“Lycored has made sure that we are all familiar with the magical power of the tomato, but now we know that this ‘hero fruit’ has topical applications as well,” mused Duber-Smith. “A great brand name combined with ingredient efficacy is a winning combination.”
Henig concurred, stating, “I like the carotene derivatives they developed from specially grown tomatoes and the beauty-from-within effects on skin health. Their seed to skin story is great since they have full control of the growing and production process.”
Sustainability and transparency have never been more important to consumers, and this applies across a range of sectors and countries, the company stated. This has led to a new “blue beauty” movement. With topical skin care products such as sunscreen strongly implicated in damage to coral reefs, the ingestible skincare sector can tap into the growing demand for blue beauty and environmental awareness more generally.
Since then, the company moved to pre-clinical (complex cell culture), bio-availability, and clinical (human subject) trials and after many refinements, it found the carotenoids in golden tomatoes work even better to support skin appearance and beauty when synergistically combined with other naturally occurring nutrients in our skin wellness extract.
A major milestone for Lumenato was a study that showed how it works to decrease the effects of sun exposure. The “Lumenato’s protects normal human dermal fibroblasts from neutrophil induced collagen-3 damage in co-cultures 2020” study design deliberately included physiological parameters to gain new insights into the cellular mechanism.
The company continued to deepen its insights with the launch of a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study in 2021 that evaluated the efficacy of Lumenato to improve beauty parameters on 60 healthy female subjects. They marked the launch by unveiling new before-and-after photos, clinical assessment, instrumental evaluation, and results on inflammation, wrinkles and texture you can literally see.