Cognitive health and sports nutrition are finding love from U.S. consumers—and Chemi Nutra targets both categories, with phospholipids and other ingredients. Operating in the U.S. since 2001 (and now serving Mexico and Canada as well), Chemi Nutra is a business unit of Chemi SpA, an Italian nutraceutical and pharmaceutical company.
Its flagship product, SerinAid PhosphatidylSerine (PS), has been shown in several studies to help maintain and improve mental performance and mood. It also may help lower both physical and psychological stress, according to the company. (PS boasts two FDA-granted health claims related to reduced risk for cognitive dysfunction and dementia in the elderly.)
Another brain nutrient that’s equally at home in sports-nutrition formulations, AlphaSize Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC) may help optimize muscular power output, sharpen agility and delay mental fatigue, according to Chemi Nutra. Other Chemi Nutra products include PhosphoLean, IronAid and Mediator Phosphatidic Acid (PA), an upcoming ingredient that’s currently being studied for its potential in supporting lean body mass and strength.
We spoke with Chase Hagerman, Chemi Nutra’s business development and marketing manager, about the evidence and broader applications for phospholipids.
Functional Ingredients: Does the existing evidence base translate from bovine to soy-based phospholipids?
Chase Hagerman: PS was originally derived from bovine cortex (cow brains) since it has the highest PS content of any source. But due to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease), an alternative had to be used. Since 1994, soy lecithin has been the derivative of choice: It has a high yield, no risk of virus and no side effects. At this point, more research exists with soy-derived PS than was done earlier on bovine-derived PS. That being said, we let the research speak for itself: This research is available upon request.
FI: Do elite athletes use your ingredients?
CH: We have been told that many Chinese Olympic athletes use our PS, and likely many more athletes across the world, since it has an incredible track record of being safe, effective, and free of all banned substances. In fact, we are sponsoring a nationally ranked LPGA golfer, Stacy Lewis, who uses and endorses a functional food bar called IQPLUS Golf Bar (IQPLUS Foods, Milwaukee, WI), which contains SerinAid PS.
FI: What are other potential applications for PS?
CH: PS is used in immune formulas for children all the way up to the elderly. We have even expanded into pet applications. And applications in functional foods and beverages and medical foods continue to grow. PS has GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status, so we have had a lot of interest in that area.
FI: Is it difficult to market ingredients across more than one category?
CH: Chemi Nutra is not just a brain health company: We like to market ourselves as suppliers of 'human performance.' We strive to discover and commercialize innovative nutritional ingredients no matter what health category. We began marketing to sports nutrition when we discovered how beneficial these ingredients can be for athletes. That said, it’s challenging to market SerinAid PS as a go-to cognitive heath ingredient and a high-profile sports nutrition ingredient. On the other hand, consumers who use sports nutrition supplements tend to appreciate the high degree of scientific support behind our ingredients more than the average supplement user and are more likely to see both sides of the story: benefits for cognition and sports.
FI: Whom do you consider your competition: other phospholipid makers or other ingredient classes like fish oil?
CH: We don't like to say there is competition within this industry. I think we can all agree that the most important thing to compete against is bad science and the negativity this industry gets from opponents who think that all we are is snake oil.