Brainy ingredients get brawny

An estimated 10 per cent of American adults have mood disorders — 21 million. Another five million have Alzheimer's disease.

Interest in cognitive health is also expanding to the younger populations, ages 25—50 years. Many younger people are more receptive to ‘keeping their brain sharp' as they find themselves taking care of an elderly parent suffering from age-related mental decline and realise that they might have a similar condition in a few decades.

One of the primary ingredients marketed for cognitive health is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Martek's life'sDHA is used in many infant formulas for improved cognitive function (and eye health), and through this platform is finding a home elsewhere. Its success is demonstrated with Martek's second quarter financial 2009 results, which showed revenues up two per cent to $92.4 million.

"Our success within the infant formula market has provided us credibility with the food companies. If we are good enough for babies, we must be good enough for the rest of the population," says Sarah Sullivan, senior manager of marketing at Martek Biosciences. "We market DHA based on the available science. And because DHA has brain, eye and heart-health benefits, there are many directions we can go. Ultimately, it's up to the CPG company and how they want to position the ingredient within their food. But, because there isn't as much competition within the ‘brain-health' space, we generally recommend that they go that route."

Other ingredients are hopping on the DHA bandwagon. Ocean Nutrition Canada, a major supplier of fish oil, has partnered with Kyowa Hakko USA and its Cognizin ingredient, which is GRAS and water-soluble.

Functional ingredients
Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA)
Ginkgo biloba
Huperzia serrata
Omega-3 DHA
Phosphatidylserine (PS)
St John's wort
Vitamin D
Vitamin E

"We wanted to leverage both companies' ingredients for brain health," says Karen E Todd, RD, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA. "We have found that Cognizin not only supports memory function and healthy cognition, but crosses over many functions — increasing levels of critical neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine, enhancing cellular integrity by increasing phospholipids synthesis, and supporting cellular activity by increasing levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)."

Chemi Nutra combined omega-3 fatty acids with phosphatidylserine (PS) to form a new offering. "OmegaAid PS is the natural evolution of combining marine-sourced omega-3 fatty acids with PS, utilizing Chemi's proprietary manufacturing expertise, and supported by Chemi's numerous patents," says Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra and Chemi Pharma.

Hagerman says the company works to leverage market interest into successful new ingredients. "We first look at market attractiveness, long-term prospects of selling, production capabilities and, finally, patent opportunities, since we have to make substantial investments in identifying and developing new ingredient product opportunities."

One new entrant to the field is Vivimind by Ovos Natural Health. The ingredient, derived from homotaurine found in seaweed, has a great deal of research behind it, on more than 2,000 individuals. It is set to launch in the US market by the end of the year.

"Vivimind has received scientific support and has been embraced by consumers in the Canadian market since its launch in September 2008," says Jim Stitley, general manager of US commercial operations for Ovos.

Other emerging ingredients include vinpocetine, curcumin and turmeric. And — surprise, surprise — vitamin D. A May 2009 study in Europe of more than 3,000 men aged 40-79 found those with high vitamin D levels performed better on memory and information processing tests.

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Select Suppliers

Krill oil
Extracted from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Provides superior absorption with 42 per cent phospholipids and powerful antioxidants. Rich in phospholipid-bonded omega-3s. Promotes cardiovascular, nerve and brain function. Addresses PMS issues, provides joint support, improves flexibility and enhances overall quality of life.
[email protected]
+1 303 502 2400
Boulder, Colorado, USA

BI Nutraceuticals
Panax ginseng extracts
Sourced from China. Used in formulas designed to help improve cognitive function, concentration, memory and work efficiency, as well as reduce mental fatigue.
[email protected]
+1 310 637 3644
Long Beach, California, USA

Chemi Nutra
SerinAid PhosphatidylSerine
Scientifically proven to help maintain youthful mental performance, prevent the loss of critical-thinking skills, improve mood, reduce stress and improve exercise performance. Two FDA health claims granted for cognitive dysfunction and dementia in the elderly.
[email protected]
+1 866 907 0400
White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA

Cyvex Nutrition
Periwinkle extract with 98 per cent vincamine acts as a cerebral vasodilator, which increases blood flow to the brain and leads to long-term improvements in mental function.
[email protected]
+1 949 622 9030
Irvine, California, USA

Enzymotec USA
Maintains and improves cognitive capacity for people over 45. Most widely researched ingredient in this category and the only one with qualified health claims. Pure and stable.
[email protected]
+1 973 912 9400
Springfield, New Jersey, USA

EPAX 1050 TG
High content of DHA, which is depleted in the brain during ageing. Shown to reduce onset of Alzheimer's and slow down the symptoms of an early stage of the disease.
[email protected]
+47 70 13 59 60
Aalesund, Norway

Ethical Naturals
Ginkgo biloba
Forefront of quality-assurance research on ginkgo extract. Ginkgo PhytoReport defines today's QA and advanced adulteration problems. Offers 24/6, USP and low-acid materials.
[email protected]
+1 866 459 4454
San Anselmo, California, USA

Co-Q10, choline, tocotrienols, creatine, GABA, phosphatidylserine, omega 3, zinc, antioxidants
[email protected]
+1 800 950 5156
Schenectady, New York, USA

Hsu's Ginseng
American ginseng
American-ginseng grower in Wisconsin for 35 years. Has calming and cooling effect on body. Can help strengthen immune system.
[email protected]
+1 715 675 2325
Wausau, Wisconsin, USA

Kyowa Hakko USA
Cognizin Citicoline
Pure, natural, safe and scientifically validated ingredient that supports memory function and healthy cognition. Latest research demonstrates increased energy (ATP) within the brain, which aids alertness, focus, concentration and recall.
[email protected]
+1 212 319 5353
New York, New York, USA

PS Plus
Natural functional ingredient that alleviates mental and psychological stress effects and lowers cortisol levels. Patented and clinically tested. GRAS (FDA) affirmed since 2006. All Lipogen products are ISO9000:2000, HAACP, GMP and kosher certified.
[email protected]
+972 54452 2355
Haifa, Israel

Martek Biosciences
Vegetarian and sustainable source (algae). Available as either a highly purified oil or micro-encapsulated powder. DHA is important for the health of brain, eyes and heart, accounting for up to 97 per cent of the omega-3 fats in the brain and up to 93 per cent of the omega-3 fats in the retina.
[email protected]
+1 800 662 6339
Columbia, Maryland, USA

Martin Bauer
Herbal extracts
Ginseng, ginkgo, green tea and other herbal extracts increase mental performance and retentiveness.
[email protected]
+1 201 659 3100
Secaucus, New Jersey, USA

Nutrition 21
Chromax Plus
Patent-pending combination of the two most-absorbed chromium compounds in one product for a faster-acting, longer-lasting effect.
[email protected]
+1 914 701 4500
Purchase, New York, USA

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