What began more than 100 years ago as the Swiss company Lonza AG Electricity Works in Gampel, Valais, now is one of the world's leading ingredients suppliers to the functional-foods industry. Lonza provides science-based products that offer a large number of health benefits. Among these products are L-carnitine L-tartrate (L-Carnipure); niacin and niacinamide (vitamin B3); a patented form of zinc-carnosine (PepZin GI); and, most recently, Larch Arabinogalactan, or LAG for short (FibreAid, ImmunEnhancer, LaraCare A200).
Just last May, Lonza acquired the assets that comprise Larex's Larch Arabinogalactan business. This addition to Lonza's functional-ingredients line is a natural soluble fibre extracted from harvested Larch trees.
LAG products provide multifunctional properties either in stand-alone products or, when combined with other ingredients, to enhance product performance. It has been included in numerous products such as ready-to-drink and powdered-mix beverages, nutritional bars, and baked goods. No known negative interactions have been noted when LAG has been combined with other typically used food and dietary-supplements ingredients. In fact, it has many synergistic effects with food and dietary-supplements ingredients.
It is known to support healthy immunesystem function, increasing beneficial immune cells such as white blood cells, without stimulating pro-inflammatory cells. It is highly effective in promoting in vitro and in vivo macrophage proliferation and is backed by clinical research to support structure/function claims.
According to Tom Brancato, NAFTA head of sales and marketing, nutrition portfolio at Lonza, a number of in vitro trials investigating LAG's interaction with immune cells such as lymphocytes, NK cell and monocytes have demonstrated that LAG has the ability to increase the number and/or activity of immune cells. Also, recent in vivo studies in animals and humans have demonstrated LAG's beneficial impact on the immune system.
Lonza's human-nutrition business will focus on promoting LAG products as digestive-health and immune-support ingredients within the functional-beverages and foods market, as well as the dietary-supplements market, Brancato says.
"Our ingredients will be formulated into a variety of delivery systems including pills, tablets, powders, beverages and premixes for foods."
Another of Lonza's ingredients, PepZin GI, is a unique dietary supplement raw-material ingredient that targets optimum stomach health. It is a patented form of zinc-carnosine, which has been shown to interact with Helicobacter pylori, support gastric health and alleviate dyspeptic symptoms. It is formulated into finished supplements, including Ulcetrol from NOW Foods, which are available at natural health food stores.
Metagenics also offers a PepZin GI-based product primarily sold to health care practitioners under the brand name Zinlori 75.
In addition, Lonza is the world's largest producer of L-carnitine L-tartrate, and a recent study underlines the importance of such a position. The study, which measured how supplementation beneficially affected markers of postexercise metabolic stress and muscle damage, suggests that the dose-response level for L-carnitine L-tartrate, which is normally set at 2g per day, can actually be cut in half, with the consumer still enjoying the same beneficial effects.
With the plethora of functional ingredients, supplements and marketing materials out there today, consumer confusion and mistrust of nutritional products and the health foods market are growing. Often products don't meet the standards set forth by their labelling or the claims in their marketing.
As for this problem, Brancato says, "Lonza takes a different approach, in that we let the science behind our products act as the platform for what our 'message' will be to the consumer.
"Therefore, the education we provide the consumer is more direct. There is a lot of good, consumer-friendly information on our websites set up for many of our products.
"For example, www.carnipure.com provides a wealth of data about the benefits of Lonza's L-carnitine L-tartrate product, but also has links to many scientific studies, thus supplying the consumer with the technical basis from which the message was developed."