It's all in your head

It's all in your head

Since January 2010, more than a dozen studies have come out documenting the antidepressive benefits of everything from vitamins D and B, to zinc, to red clover, to folate, to omega-3s. But on the branded-ingredients side of the industry, there has been a flurry of activity in ingredients designed to improve memory and cognitive function in the elderly.

In a time of national and global recession, it perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise that the top-selling dietary supplement formulas in the past year have been those marketed for depression.

According to SPINS, sales in the combined natural and FDM channels (excluding Whole Foods and Walmart) totaled $354.68 million during the 52 weeks ending May 15. This represents a 16.8 percent increase over the same year-ago period.

Just what are the most promising antidepressive nutrients to take? Since January 2010, more than a dozen studies have come out documenting the benefits of everything from vitamins D and B, to zinc, to red clover, to folate, to omega-3s. Of course the old standby, St. John's wort, is still popular, too.

But treatments for depression aren't the only news in the cognitive-health sector. On the branded-ingredients side of the industry, there has been a flurry of activity in ingredients designed to improve memory and cognitive function in the elderly.

Gobble some 'shrooms

New research has also shown the efficacy of an edible mushroom, Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus), to "significantly" improve cognitive-function scores of elderly Japanese subjects.

The trial was performed on 50- to 80-year-old Japanese men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. The cognitive scores of the group that consumed the mushroom increased with the duration of intake over a 16-week period; however, four weeks after the termination of use, the scores decreased significantly. This suggests a beneficial effect only when the Yamabushitake was being taken. The study was published in the March 2009 issue of Phytotherapy Research.

Draco Natural Products of San Jose, California, has been offering Yamabushitake as a custom-request product for the last five years in formulations or as a stand-alone ingredient in a 15:1 to 20:1 extract ratio. It is currently being used in dietary supplements.

Let's brand together

Just this June, Cyvex Nutrition launched a new cognitive ingredient that has been shown to stimulate the signaling pathways that enhance long-term memory.

Cognisetin is the result of an agreement between Cyvex Nutrition and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where Cyvex has licensed the Salk Institute's patent covering fisetin to enhance memory, and has exclusive distribution rights for the ingredient. Fisetin is a naturally occurring flavonoid that can be found in fruits and vegetables, including strawberries.

"Cognisetin's role in improving cognition goes far beyond its antioxidant potential," said Matt Phillips, president of Cyvex Nutrition. "Its ability to permeate through the blood-brain barrier in vitro efficiently and effectively presents great potential in neuroprotection.

"Cognitive health is our fastest-growing sector," Phillips said. "Several of our customers are evaluating unique delivery systems for our cognitive-health ingredients."

The active ingredient in Cognisetin has been researched for more than a decade, and it has been shown to:

  • Reduce overactive brain and spinal cord-specific immune defenses that contribute to age-related decline and/or conditions;
  • Generate neuron cells in presence of damage; and
  • Protect and contribute to the synthesis of antioxidants found naturally in the body, such as gluthionine.

Results were demonstrated at a human equivalence dose of 50 — 150mg per day for an average adult.

Launched in 2003, Cognizin citicoline is a branded ingredient from Kyowa Hakko USA produced through a proprietary fermentation process. It has been used extensively for the promotion of optimal neural and cognitive function and has been shown to improve attention, recall and focus.

Editor's Picks

St. John's wort: A decade ago this yellow flower was knee-capped by Big Pharma and an obfuscated media that couldn't tell the difference between "major" and "mild" depression. We haven't given up on you.
Citicoline: If it's good enough for 5-Hour Energy, it's good enough for us.
Marijuana: It's medical in almost one-third of the States. AHPA has a working group considering it.

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