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Positive Energy Positive Energy

Energy products are reaching a broader audience, and safety is a priority.

If you would like to know who is buying energy-enhancing supplements and products today, there is no one group to target.

“The market for energy-enhancing products is diverse and includes various demographics and lifestyles,” said Alexis Collins, director of product & brand strategy, Stratum Nutrition (Missouri). “In past years, the average consumer looking for energy-enhancing products were athletes, gym-goers, e-gamers and college students. During more recent years, those consumer dynamics have shifted and now post-COVID it is not unlikely for the average consumers from all walks of life to be looking for the right energy supplement tailored to their unique needs.”

According to FMCG Gurus, only 44 percent of global consumers are satisfied with their energy levels (Top 10 Trends for 2024, Trend Digest, FMCG Gurus). Consumers are placing a high value on energy, and they look for products that can provide both physical and cognitive revitalization. Sixty percent of global consumers want to improve their energy levels over the next 12 months (Joint and Bone Health, January 2024, FMCG Gurus).

Other marketing professionals are noting similar findings. “Energy enhancement covers a wide range of subcategories catering to a variety of demographics,” said Stacey Smith, DC, marketing and communications manager, NORAM Gnosis by Lesaffre (Lille, France; U.S. office: Milwaukee, WI). “On the one hand, you have sports enthusiasts, who tend to be younger demographics (18-40 years) looking to achieve peak physical performance. Then you have active life-stylers, who seek to maintain their mobility to enhance their quality of life, who tend to skew older (40-plus years).

“Even within those segments, it is not just the physical component of having the energy to perform, but also the cognitive and psychological wherewithal to be mentally alert and calm in the face of pressure,” Smith said.

Jackson Zapp, vice president of innovation, Applied Food Sciences (AFS, Texas), noted the complexities of the category. He said, “From an ingredient manufacturer’s perspective, at AFS, we have an ‘inside-out’ view, getting to see a behind-the-scenes look at a lot of products in the market. We are continuing to see the clean-label movement evolve into the energy space, where brands are finding success in being more simple, natural and organic. Nootropics have taken a large leap into the energy space as it fuels productivity throughout our days. Energy is moving beyond the stimulation of caffeine alone and instead providing additional functional benefits that support focus and our emotional well-being.”

“Overall,” Collins added, “the market continues to expand as consumers increasingly prioritize health, wellness and performance optimization. However; concerns about the safety, efficacy and long-term effects of some energy supplements remain. This leads to regulatory scrutiny and consumer education efforts. As a result, there is a growing demand for evidence-based products and transparency in labeling within the energy supplement industry.”

Energetic Ingredients

A recent entry to the category, Stratum Nutrition launched a sage extract that may help support attention and memory within the first hour of the first dose in healthy older adults, according to Collins. “For the knowledge worker that wants to focus and get one more deep work task done before the end of the day, but does not want to sacrifice sleep, this may help give them that boost. Energy supplements and drinks that can provide a mental zoom without the rise and crash of caffeine, could be the next big wave. In some individuals, caffeine may cause sleep disruption after consumption and some experience anxiety and stress increase. Stratum’s sage extract does not contain caffeine and may offer viable support to those on trend with the no-to-low caffeine wave. Stratum Nutrition’s sage extract is easily incorporated into a variety of delivery formats (capsules, gummies, dissolving powders for hot and cold drinks, and RTDs) with a low, effective dose.”

Steve Fink, VP of marketing with PLT Health Solutions (New Jersey) noted that the company’s zümXR Targeted Release Caffeine is a novel form of modified release caffeine developed for food, beverage and supplement products. zümXR approach to Targeted Release Caffeine was developed using pharma modeling techniques for dissolution design, with USP methodologies used to measure performance. It features multi-patented encapsulated microbead delivery systems with controlled payload delivery. All zümXR ingredients feature state-of-the-art delivery system technology drawn from the pharmaceutical industry that represents a significant step forward from conventional caffeine coating technologies, he said.

PLT’s Zynamite, a patented Mangifera indica extract standardized to ≥ 60 percent mangiferin, burst onto the supplement’s scene in 2018. It has since gone on to win six global industry awards for its unique body of clinical science that supports multiple mental and physical performance benefits. Zynamite provides. The ingredient that has been the subject of ten clinical studies and to be fast-acting and experiential, offering enhanced mental energy, improved workouts and recovery, targeting both brain and body.

Gnosis by Lesaffre offers two ingredients that address the natural energy category: One is Quatrefolic bioactive folate (vitamin B9). B vitamins are vital for exercise because they are involved in the regulation of energy metabolism, according to the company.

“Studies have shown that athletes, especially women, may be more at risk of poor folate intake and status. It is noted that severe folate insufficiency could result in anemia and, consequently, reduce endurance workout performance,” said Smith. “Thus, it is recommended that all athletes, both males and females, increase their daily folate intake.”

Food folate and folic acid need conversion via specific enzymes to provide biologically active folate (5-MTHF), where MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) is the rate-limiting enzyme, Smith noted.

The active folate 5-MTHF, such as Quatrefolic, bypasses the enzymatic step since it does not need to be converted, and it has a direct role in synthesizing new cells and building and repairing body tissues, including those injured due to physical activity.

The second is Landkind Pure Salidroside, which is the newest ingredient being offered by the company. It is crafted by fermentation specifically to protect a native plant species.

Rhodiola (rosea or crenulata), known for its impact on energy levels, mood and mental performance, has been a botanical used in natural products for decades. Rhodiola extracts typically contain two main actives—Rosavins and Salidroside—standardized to their naturally occurring 3:1 ratio, Smith explained.

“Preclinical studies on cellular or animal models have shown that Salidroside may support energy metabolism, vascular function and skeletal muscle,” Smith said.

This preclinical evidence is supported by a clinical study (publication pending) showing that supplementation with Salidroside may be effective for enhancing oxygen uptake during exercise. Furthermore, it may mitigate performance decrease due to accumulated fatigue and mitigate mood disturbance, according to the company.

Found naturally in high altitudes in Europe and Asia and taking more than 20 years to mature, the increasing demand for Rhodiola rosea became the main threat of overharvesting it. To ensure its sustainable harvest and trade, Rhodiola species were added to the CITES list of endangered species.

“But we can still enjoy the benefits of this miraculous plant through an innovation in manufacturing,” Smith said, adding, “Gnosis’ groundbreaking fermentation process bypasses the need to harvest Rhodiola rosea, becoming ‘naturally’ CITES compliant.”

Seeing a clear need for mental energy supplements, OmniActive Health Technologies (New Jersey) offers a range of plant-based, clinically backed nootropic ingredients, said Pawas Soni, global category manager—energy.

enXtra Alpinia galanga extract is a plant-based, caffeine-free experiential solution, clinically shown to help support mental energy benefits, such as alertness, focus and attention.1-6

Outcomes of clinical studies have shown that just 300 mg of enXtra may help support:1-6

• Quick,† same day support for mental energy††

• Focus, attention, and an increase in alertness as well as sustains alertness up to five hours

• Reduce the mental energy “crash” typically observed with caffeine†††

• A feeling of more energy†††† and vigor††††† and less fatigue††††

Moreover, enXtra does not disrupt the sleep/sleep-wake cycle, according to the company.2

enXtra is a formulation-flexible ingredient that can easily go into formats such as RTMs, shots, gummies, capsules, chocolates and bars.

For formulators looking for a sustained release of natural caffeine, OmniActive offers Xtenergy.

In a pharmacokinetics (PK) study comparing Xtenergy to immediate-release caffeine, Xtenergy was shown to help:7

• Extend the nootropic benefits of caffeine over several hours as the effects of immediate-release caffeine start to decline

• Support some of the benefits of caffeine without unwanted effects such as the jitters

• Extend caffeine’s mood-enhancing effects for up to eight hours.

Other ingredients include Applied Food Sciences’ offerings—PurCaf Organic Caffeine and PurTea Organic Caffeine ingredients that are perfect for brands looking to create natural or organic products with sustainability in mind, the company stated. Due to their purity, complete solubility, and less bitter taste profile, these ingredients can be used in a wide range of applications, including beverages, energy drinks, sports nutrition powders, gummies and more. Additionally, PurCaf and PurTea are clear and colorless in solution, which makes them ideal for a variety of applications and styles, according to the company.

Java.G Green Coffee Extract is ideal for formulating healthy functional beverages and foods and is becoming a popular solution for natural energy drinks, according to Zapp. The extract is standardized for chlorogenic acids and naturally occurring caffeine content, providing potent health benefits from green coffee antioxidants with the natural caffeine from coffee.

“Not all caffeine is equal,” Zapp said. “AmaTea Max is derived from Guayusa, an ‘Amazonian super leaf’ that grows in the upper rainforests of Ecuador and Peru. Our patented extract enhances the plant’s intricate makeup of antioxidants and caffeine, providing a bright and cognitively uplifting energy boost. With published studies in sports nutrition, esports, mood and daily focus, this nootropic energy ingredient helps sharpen focus, brighten mood, improve attention and concentration, quicken reaction time and boost mental stamina.”

Challenges for Product Development

Collins pointed out that energy drinks try to offer themselves up as a healthier option to, say, a double shot, full fat, caramel macchiato with extra caramel sauce. “But, how much further can we go with ‘more is better’ formulations with peak caffeine levels?” she said.

“According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 400 mg of caffeine/day (4-5 actual cups of coffee) appears to be safe for most healthy adults who are not pregnant. Does that mean we should be hitting this limit? It is possible that we already hit one far side of the energy spectrum (fully caffeinated 24/7) and we have been swinging towards the other side (get your energy from anything but caffeine) for a few years and will continue to see this trend rise. Non-caffeinated coffee alternatives combined with the growing interest in the health benefits of mushrooms are a great example of this,” Collins said.

Collins pointed out that there has been some bad press for energy drinks recently—new Canadian legislation outlawing drinks containing more than 180 mg of caffeine in a single serving, a wrongful death lawsuit over Panera’s “supercharged lemonade,” U.S. Senate requests for FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) investigations into whether energy drinks are targeting advertising to audiences too young for high caffeine consumption. “But that doesn’t seem to be negatively affecting the popularity of energy drinks, especially when most of them offer a zero sugar boost on the go,” she added.

When Formulating Energy Products

Consumers have high expectations for energy products. “Formulators should keep in mind that there is (or we have already reached) a maxed out point for caffeine in energy formulations,” said Collins. “And, as consumers become more aware with the rise of bio-analyzing influencers, more end users are going to start wanting to optimize caffeine usage instead of overload on it. And, as sleep issues rise with age, users 30 and up are primed for an energy boost that will carry health benefits without sacrificing being able to get to sleep hours later.”

“The latest research on energy products that nutritional supplement companies are interested in often revolves around ingredients and formulations that offer sustained energy without the crash,” added Smith. “Research is exploring novel delivery systems, bioavailability-enhancing technologies and synergistic ingredient combinations.”

Soni added, “There is also a demand for more natural, clean-label, sustainable solutions to deliver these energy needs. This can also help to create differentiation in crowded spaces.

“We also see the blurred lines between multiple food and beverage formats that drive convenience. With multiple formats like bars, gels, RTDs, shots, stick packs/powders, gummies, etc. making a play here, taste and delivery formats become crucial factor for driving consumer preference.”

Zapp pointed out the challenge of ingredient safety. “For ingredients like AmaTea Max derived from guayusa, we had to do extensive analytical work to identify every plant compound and evaluate how it impacts our health. This investment is valuable to ensure our ingredients have clear guidelines for safe usage in approved applications. In fact, our AmaTea Max received ‘no questions’ letter from the FDA on our GRAS (generally recognized as safe) analysis. The recognition was a historical first from the FDA for a natural caffeine-containing ingredient.

“Finally, trust and transparency are essential to the future success of naturally derived energy ingredients. As a proud member of the American Botanical Council (ABC) and United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), AFS has taken numerous steps to support the industry and ensure high-quality ingredients enter the marketplace. We have developed a multi-step approach incorporating USP and AOAC-validated methods for specific compound identification. In addition, AFS conducts isotope testing to ensure no synthetic substances are in the finished material.” NIE

†Within the first hour after supplementation
††Up to five hours
†††“Crash” as per OmniActive when mental energy (measured by alertness/attention) and mood generally falls within the first five hours of ingestion of caffeine
††††Based on acute and 28-day supplementation
†††††Based on 28-day supplementation


1 Shalini Srivastava, Mark Mennemeier & Surekha Pimple. Effect of Alpinia galanga on Mental Alertness and Sustained Attention With or Without Caffeine: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. JACN 2017. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2017.1342576.

2 Shalini Srivastava and Surekha Pimple. Effects of Cymbopogon Flexuosus, Alpinia galanga, and Glycyrrhiza Glabra on Attention: A Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. BAOJ Nutrition 2017: 3 (1); 042.

3Shalini Srivastava. Selective enhancement of focused attention by Alpinia galanga in subjects with moderate caffeine consumption. Open Access Journal of Clinical Trials 2018: 10; 43-49.

4 Shalini S, Mark Mennemeier, Jayesh Choudary. A Randomized Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial Demonstrating Safety & Efficacy of enXtra in Healthy Adults. J Am Coll Nutrition 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2020.1753129.

5 Eraiah MM, Kundapur M, Joshua L, Thomas JV. Acute Effects of Alpinia galanga Extract on Mental Alertness, Accuracy and Fatigue in Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Study. Adv Complement Alt Med. 7(4). ACAM. 000669. 2023 DOI: 10.31031/ACAM.2023.07.000669.

6 Eraiah MM, Kundapur M, Joshua L, Thomas JV (2023) Alpinia galanga Extract Increases Alertness, Focus, and Energy While Lowering Fatigue and Daytime Sleepiness with Four Weeks Supplementation: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Study in Human Subjects. Curr Res Cmpl Alt Med 7: 209 DOI: 10.29011/2577-2201.100209.

7 Abhijeet Morde, Kothapally Sudhakar, Maddela Rambabu, Alukapally Shankar, Deshanie Rai, Krishnaji Pawar, Manutosh Acharya, Munja Bakan, Pravin Nalawade, Ravindra Nayakwadi, Muralidhara Padigaru. Pharmacokinetic profile of a novel sustained-release caffeine with extended benefits on alertness and mood: A randomized, double-blind, single-dose, active-controlled, crossover study. Current Research in Behavioral Sciences, Volume 2, 2021, 100036, ISSN 2666-5182, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crbeha.2021.100036.

For More Information:

Applied Food Sciences, www.appliedfoods.com
Gnosis by Lesaffre, www.gnosisbylesaffre.com
OmniActive Health Technologies, www.omniactives.com
PLT Health Solutions, www.plthealth.com
Stratum Nutrition, www.stratumnutrition.com

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