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Positive Mood

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Positive Mood Positive Mood

Increasing concern about mood and mental health leads to growth in the natural ingredient marketplace amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Achieving a healthy and positive mood is an important goal toward which many strive. Whether a person suffers from a mental illness or is simply feeling down due to a life situation, anyone would rather feel well than unwell. This concept, according to recent research, has been on many people’s minds since COVID-19 spread across the globe and forced millions into lockdown. Now, more people than ever are staying inside, working from home and spending an increased amount of time staring at their screens. As maintained by several studies, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and overall hopelessness are plaguing many around the world—especially those who are immunocompromised or at high-risk of developing severe complications if they contract COVID-19. As a result, products that can improve mood are more crucial than ever.

Many have turned to psychiatry for the answers to their mental health concerns. According to an analysis by the April 2020 Express Scripts Report, America’s State of Mind: U.S. trends in medication use for depression, anxiety and insomnia, “the number of prescriptions filled per week for antidepressant, anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia medications increased 21.0 percent between February 16 and March 15, peaking during the week ending March 15. That same week, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the U.S. declared a national emergency in response to the crisis. Over that same mid-February to mid-March timeframe, prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications rose 34.1 percent, and also increased for antidepressants (18.6 percent) and anti-insomnia drugs (14.8 percent). During the week ending March 15, the use of anti-anxiety medications spiked nearly 18 percent.”

These medications undoubtedly help many people who suffer from various mental illnesses, but they may not be the answer to those suffering from COVID-19-related anxiety or general negative mood. There are, however, a number of effective natural products on the market that have the ability to enhance consumers’ moods—and their popularity is rising.

An Increasing Demand for Natural Products to Improve Mood

Like the use of psychiatric medications, the use of mood-enhancing natural products is also on the rise, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19. According to Marischa Nikkels, marketing manager of Early Life Nutrition, FrieslandCampina Ingredients based in The Netherlands, “despite the increased focus on areas such as sleep, anxiety, stress and feeling ‘good,’ many are cautious about pharmaceutical treatments, worried about the possibility of habit formation and their non-natural source. As a result, growing numbers of consumers are now looking to take different measures, including exercise and diet, to support their mental wellbeing.” However, she continued, “busy lifestyles mean that not everyone is able to dedicate the time needed to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle and find that precious ‘inner calm.’ So, consumers are seeking convenient and natural supplements and functional foods and drinks as a more attractive alternative to pharmaceuticals.”

In agreement with these assertions, Michael Chernyak, president of CK Nutritionals, with U.S. offices in New York, stated that “COVID-19 has had a favorable impact on mood supplements—we’ve read reports that the mood health category is up as much as 30 percent year-over-year in 2020. Feelings of helplessness and isolation worldwide among the public are driving the need to formulate evidence-backed mood health products that are truly efficacious and experiential.”

Further echoing this data is Loukiana Chatzinasiou, senior product manager of Sibelius Natural Products in Abingdon, U.K., who stated that “after the COVID-19 outbreak … the demand for mental health and mood ingredients and supplements has increased dramatically, due to the uncertainty and fear associated with this evolving health crisis.” Several experts, including Chatzinasiou, are stressing the importance of mental wellbeing. In many cases, it is equally as important as immune health. “Today, one of the primary consumer concerns is to maintain their mental or emotional wellness during these challenging times,” she continued. “This encompasses improved memory and concentration, reduced stress revels, increased productivity and better sleep.”

Hannah Braye, senior technical advisor at U.K.-based ADM Protexin, pointed to a connection between gut and brain health, as well as the upward trend in usage of supplements that address both: “Growing evidence shows the pivotal role of the microbiota in the gut-brain axis—demonstrating the role of the microbiome in influencing brain function across a range of pathologies,” she remarked. As a result, “this has led to the development of ‘psychobiotics,’ the name given to supplemental bacteria thought to have a positive effect on brain function.” According to Braye, the use of these mental health-supporting supplements is rapidly increasing. This is due to the fact that several psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar affective disorder have been linked to the gut microbiome, as reported in a study by Cryan JF, O’Riordan KJ, Cowan CSM, et al. on the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Overall, research by several parties has suggested that a growing number of people are turning to mood-enhancing natural supplements to feel good, with a recent spike noted since the start of the pandemic.

The Natural Ingredients Used to Improve Mood

“With these shifting attitudes” toward using natural products to uplift mood, “it’s important that brands adjust their strategies and products to fit into these changing preferences,” said Nikkels. “When it comes to ingredients that support mental health and wellbeing, manufacturers must consider factors such as efficacy, safety and versatility—exactly the same attributes that consumers also look for.”

Indeed, there are a number of effective supplements currently on the market that aid in healthy mood and brain function and meet these criteria. For instance, Nikkels’ company, FrieslandCampina Ingredients, has developed their ingredient “Biotis GOS, which can be integrated into applications such as ready-to-drink beverages, fruit pouches, milk powders and dietary supplements like gummies, to support women at risk of high anxiety before and during their pregnancies and to potentially reduce their stress so they can enjoy their pre- and post-birth journey more.”

Sibelius Natural Products, on the other hand, has recently developed “a mouth-spray end-user formulation for relaxation and stress-relief, containing our Sibelius chamomile ingredient, lavender and peppermint oil,” said Chatzinasiou. However, he noted that CBD is currently one of the top best-selling ingredients with respect to consumer acceptance, and some of the core, long-standing ingredients for healthy mood have consistently included St. John’s Wort, ashwagandha, valerian and chamomile. In addition to these, Chernyak remarked that some other staples in the healthy mood category include high-dose omega-3 ingredients and 5-HTP, but recently botanicals and herbals such as ashwagandha and saffron have risen in popularity, as have some probiotic strains.

Chatzinasiou shared that Sibelius Natural Products has also “recently introduced a new milled format of our Sibelius: sage brain health ingredient to expand its application profile and create new opportunities for product innovation.” Like FrieslandCampina’s Biotis GOS, “this newly introduced format enables manufacturers to create mental health products beyond conventional capsules and tablets, such as functional foods and beverages, jellies and gummies.”

CK Nutraceuticals “introduced a proprietary saffron extract, SaffSerene, with clinical data, which supports a healthy mood.” Research shows, according to Chernyak, that the ingredient’s mood balance effect is mediated by GABA receptors.

Returning to the subject of the relationship between gut and brain health, Braye shared that ADM Protexin has a successful healthy mood probiotic ingredient called Bio-Kult Migréa, which can help with mood disorders like anxiety and depression. It is, according to Braye, “a multi-strain live bacteria supplement targeting the digestive tract and the head. It contains 14 different strains of live bacteria to help support a healthy microbial balance in the gut … Not only did Bio-Kult strains significantly improve overall symptom severity in IBS, they were also shown to markedly improve all aspects of quality of life. This includes psychological issues such as anxiety about health, depression, lack of enjoyment of life and feelings of having to avoid stressful situations.”

Uplifting Mood Without the Side Effects

Psychiatric drugs are effective solutions for many people suffering from mental illness; however, there can be several negative side effects associated with them, and for some people they eventually stop working. Growing in popularity is a “clean label trend,” which has people seeking out more natural solutions. Chatzinasiou stated that “individuals are turning to natural solutions to lift their mood, which include healthy diet and exercise and staying away from prescription medications. Natural ingredients provide an alternative to relax, restore inner balance and feel a little happier in our everyday lives.”

According to an article written by Shoji Matsukawa on www.foodsafetystrategies.com, “while consumers tend to have different perceptions of what they consider “clean label,” the broad, overarching understanding is that consumers want to be informed and see ingredients they recognize on the labels. They want to know that the products they’re ingesting are safe and effective and don’t contain artificial ingredients.”

The overarching point that is agreed upon among professionals in the nutritional ingredient industry is that both physical and mental health-consciousness are on the rise, making the demand for natural ingredients rise. Mental health is increasingly considered to be as important as physical health, and the growth in the mood-enhancing natural products category reflects evidence that many consumers want to feel good mentally and feel good about what they are putting into their bodies. NIE

ForMoreInformation:

ADM Protexin, www.protexin.com
CK Nutraceuticals, www.ckingredients.com
FrieslandCampina Ingredients, www.frieslandcampinaingredients.com
Sibelius, www.sibeliusnaturalproducts.com

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