Fatty acids fight dry eyes

Omega-3 fatty acids may bring tears to the eyes of millions – in a good way. A Spanish study suggests omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may help ease the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

More than three million American women and 1.7 million men aged 50 and older have symptoms of dry eye, reports the PUFA Newsletter. The American Optometric Association reports that the majority of people over the age of 65 experience some symptom of dry eyes.

Spanish researchers gave 61 patients who had been clinically diagnosed with meibomian gland dysfunction (dry eye) DHA-rich n-3 LC-PUFAs with antioxidants of a placebo oil for three months. They were evaluated after each month. The total daily dose of n-3 LC-PUFAs was 1.3 g, providing 1.05 g of DHA, 128 mg of EPA and 30 mg of DPA.

Subjects who had taken the daily PUFAS showed “significant improvement” in their symptoms, including improved tear stability and reduced eyelid inflammation.

The study was published in Clinical Interventions in Aging.

A different study published last year in Cornea also linked omega-3s to reduced symptoms of dry eye.

House passes Farm Bill

The House of Representatives’ passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 clears the way for the Senate to consider the bill, which includes numerous priorities the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has been seeking for more than two years.

“We are pleased that the organic industry received strong bipartisan support in the Farm Bill that cleared the House of Representatives. More and more, consumers and farmers alike are choosing organic. Giving them that choice is important,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

She added, “OTA especially wants to recognize the House Agriculture Committee leadership who made this positive vote possible—Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), and leading organic champions Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) None of this would have been possible without strong bipartisan support.”

The provisions in the bill passed in the House include allowing organic farmers, distributors, and marketers access to the same agriculture research and promotion programs available to conventional farmers by authorizing USDA to consider an application from the organic sector for its own check-off program, as well as clarifying that the current exemption from conventional check-off programs applies to all certified organic operations. In addition, it provides increased funding for the National Organic Program to enforce organic standards, improve technology, and negotiate international trade agreements, as well as funding for organic research, data collection, and certification cost share.

Last year, when the House Agriculture Committee first included an amendment addressing the specific research and promotion needs of organic farmers, it became clear that support for organic has been growing in Congress among both Republicans and Democrats. In fact, eight Republicans, including many newer members of the House Agriculture Committee, joined with the committee’s Democrats to support the amendment.

“It is a new day for organic, with new champions joining traditional supporters of organic,” said Batcha.

She added, “The Farm Bill now moving through Congress demonstrates that the consumer-driven, farmer-powered organic sector—the fourth-largest food and feed commodity—is an important part of the U.S. agricultural community. It is a victory for organic farmers, businesses and consumers. We now look forward to Senate passage of the Farm Bill and to these provisions being enacted into law."


Can supplements be transparent when going non-GMO?

Can supplements be transparent when going non-GMO?

Many natural food companies (and more recently, several in the conventional space) are dedicated to manufacturing completely non-GMO products. Though some companies, such as Dr. Bronner's and Stonyfield Organic have stalwartly opposed use of GMOs in their products from the get-go, other manufacturers new to naturals are invigorating their products by seeking non-GMO and USDA Organic ingredients.

Increased consumer awareness and education have fostered this growing devotion to transparency.

But with non-GMO at a near fever pitch, what about supplement companies and their supply chains? Supplements are notoriously difficult to verify as completely non-GMO. For starters, a long ingredient deck makes the process more time intensive. Plus, some ingredients are made through a fermentation processes that generally uses a corn-derived solvent.

But despite these challenges, supplement companies are taking the extra step to commit to non-GMO. A few of note: MegaFood, Nutrigold, NOW—and they're accelerating their education efforts. Consider NOW's infographic below, which outlines its non-GMO committment.

I like it not only because the infographic provides quick-and-easy to understand information about GMOs, but also because NOW acknowledges the challenges of verifying supplements. It highlights certain problem ingredients and even provides a chart documenting their journey to full non-GMO status.

The infographic is indicative of NOW's dedication to the movement. And that's progress.

Study shows Cran Naturelle has highest PAC content

Study shows Cran Naturelle has highest PAC content

According to Fruit d'Or Nutraceuticals, the world's largest grower and processor of organic cranberry, a recent independent test on PAC activity that was performed on 12 different cranberry retail products showed that Cran Naturelle from Fruit d'Or Nutraceuticals exhibited the highest potency. The test was completed in 2013 by third-party lab Labs Mart in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The laboratory used the Euro Pharma method, an approved, published method accepted by the FDA. 

According to Stephen Lukawski, vice president of business development, sales and marketing for Fruit d'Or Nutraceuticals, Cran Naturelle was tested to show 13 percent potency of PAC content and the next closest was 7 percent. "Other cranberry products had been tested to show inconsistent results. There was very little potency of PAC content ranging from less than 1 percent to 7 percent. This tells me that there needs to be some standardization on the labels that consumers can look for when selecting which cranberry products to purchase." Cran Naturelle is guaranteed to contain a minimum potency of 10 percent proanthocyanidins tested under Euro Pharma method."  

Lukawski adds that buyers of cranberry ingredients "need to know what questions to ask their suppliers and ask for independent test results showing potency of PAC activity at time of purchase. Even if the cranberry ingredient has a three-year shelf life, PAC activity can degrade over time. As an industry we need to have more up-to-date studies done on cranberry supplements. Relying on cranberry studies that took place several years ago is no longer valid as these cranberry suppliers may not have had their starting material analyzed, and subsequently they never can duplicate their studies."


Health Canada issues NPN for Sensoril

Health Canada issues NPN for Sensoril

NutraGenesis is pleased to announce that Health Canada has issued an NPN for the company’s flagship ingredient Sensoril® (NPN 80047814). This new product license issuance allows Sensoril to be sold throughout Canada.

“We are very pleased that our Sensoril ingredient is available for Canadian dietary supplement marketers to formulate with,” said Suzanne McNeary, cofounder and president of NutraGenesis. “We believe that the compelling claims that were afforded in the product license will be very attractive to the Canadian marketplace.” NutraGenesis engaged its long-term Canadian consulting firm, NHP Consulting Inc. to work on the NPN for Sensoril.

“It was a pleasure to have been a part of the licensing of this fantastic ingredient, Sensoril. NutraGenesis’ commitment to research and development as well as the safety and efficacy of their ingredients is evidenced by their new NPN,” stated Adrian Rodriguez, M.Sc., project manager for NHP Consulting. “Sensoril obtained unique and novel health claims from the Natural Health Products Directorate branch of Health Canada, attesting to one of the highest and strictest clinical and regulatory standards of evidence for safety and efficacy around the world. It is with pride that we endorse Sensoril,” he added.

The claims include “Helps reduce the symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability, and inability to concentrate,” “Helps reduce cortisol and C-reactive protein levels, the biomarkers of physical stress” and “Helps support cardiovascular health.”

Multi-patented Sensoril is supported by seven human clinical trials and is manufactured by NutraGenesis partner Natreon Inc. of New Brunswick, N.J.

CRN: New vitamin E study irrelevant

CRN: New vitamin E study irrelevant

In response to a study, “Antioxidants Accelerate Lung Cancer Progression in Mice,” published Jan. 29 in Science Translational Medicine, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:

Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:

“This animal study used mega-doses of vitamin E on mice that were genetically modified to be predisposed to fast-growing cancer, generating what should have been another hypothesis worthy of discussion among scientists, but instead resulted in a rash of scare-mongering headlines that don’t reflect the weight of the study’s findings.

“To put the study into context and what it means for the typical vitamin E supplement user, consider this. The mice were genetically engineered to develop fast-growing tumors and then given the equivalent of human doses of vitamin E that ranged between approximately 1,950 IU to 10,000 IU, which translates to approximately 90 to 450 times the recommended amount for consumers to avoid deficiency. Typical multivitamins target the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and typical single letter vitamin E supplements contain 200 IU to 400 IU daily, all well within the safety range between the RDA and the Tolerable Upper Levels (UL) established by the government.

“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently evaluated and reaffirmed the safety evidence for vitamin E, stating on its website report, ‘The USPSTF found adequate evidence that supplementation with vitamin E has little or no significant harms.’ A study last month published in JAMA on vitamin E in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients not only found potential benefits for vitamin E in this area, but also found ‘no significant increase in mortality with vitamin E.’ This new mouse study in no way tips the scales of safety.

“There are other studies that point to the important benefits of antioxidants, and specifically to vitamin E. In fact there are similar studies that show that vitamin E decreases lung cancer tumor growth in mice.3 New scientific discoveries occur on a daily basis, and are often, like this study, worthy of further consideration. But when the headlines don’t place research in the proper context, healthy people may be distracted from getting the recommended amount of vitamin E in their daily diet, whether through food, or supplements, or a combination. Government reports indicate that for most adults there are vitamin E shortfalls in the diet.

“For the average healthy person taking vitamins, this study is irrelevant.”

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Are retailers ready to face a new level of GMO debate?

Christine Kapperman

This might be the year the GMO debate grows faster than the superweeds spawned by genetically modified seeds.

Last year’s headline-grabbing news of failed labeling initiatives in the West and of Whole Foods Market’s plan to label all products containing modified ingredients rocketed the issue from the health food set to a mainstream audience.

Marketing ploy or not, General Mills’ commitment in early January to make Cheerios GMO free proves the point.

This wasn’t the only story getting mainstream media attention:

  • Monsanto announced its progress on herbicide-tolerant wheat (even if commercial use remains years away), during its earnings call.
  • Maine’s governor signed a state labeling law, one that becomes active after other Northeastern states adopt similar rules.

How do you approach genetically modified foods in your store?
  • The USDA released a draft environmental impact statement approving 2,4-D resistant “Agent Orange” seeds.
  • And leaked documents reportedly purport a big food-Food and Drug Administration deal for instituting voluntary labeling, defining “natural” and eliminating state’s rights for unique laws.

Get ready for even bigger news and even bigger debates. And prepare yourself and your staff for the conversations that are bound to occur on the floor at your store. Natural foods retailers have been on the forefront of this food folly for years. Leaders such as The Natural Grocery Company and the Big Carrot Natural Food Market founded the Non-GMO Project. In California and Washington, natural retailers took the issue to their states’ ballots and drew nationwide attention as the election battles boiled over and ultimately failed.

Trudy Bialic of PCC Natural Markets talks with Natural Foods Merchandiser this month about why taking a political stance on GMO labeling is important to the Washington state cooperative and what’s next for the business.

For some though, stepping into the public realm or even banning GM-containing products from their shelves isn’t the right business decision. NFM found a spectrum of retail approaches as we looked at how natural foods retailers handle genetically modified foods in their stores.

I suspect even more variations exist and still more will arise as the GMO debate draws more attention.

No matter the retail stocking decisions made, I do hope natural foods retailers will continue to play an important part as community educators, conveners, leaders and even political persuaders.

You, after all, stand on the front lines.

Nutraceuticals International Group hires sales rep

Nutraceuticals International Group hires sales rep

Nutraceuticals International Group® announces the new hire of Jaime Esquilin as the new sales representative for California.

NIG takes great pride in welcoming Jaime Esquilin to our national sales team. Jaime joins us after serving a 12 year stint with the United State Marine Corp. He served our country as an IT specialist, Aviation Analyst and Marital Arts instructor. Jaime was responsible for the Marine’s combat training and nutritional diagnosis. His military training has fueled his passion for fitness and wellness and his dedication to weight training. He actively competes in the NPC Championship Series and placed in the top 10 in the NPC 2013 New Jersey State Championship and NPC 2013 Tri-State Championship.  Jaime’s professional and military experience, training and knowledge provide him with a solid base as takes over NIG’s West Coast operations. We are confident that his experience and passion are a natural fit in the nutrition and supplement industries, and that Jaime will guide NIG to the next level as leaders in our field.

Plant compound prevents Alzheimer's in mice

Plant compound prevents Alzheimer's in mice

A chemical that's found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer's disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered. In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer's symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound—a flavonol called fisetin—prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments. The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer's disease. The new finding suggests a way to treat Alzheimer's symptoms independently of targeting amyloid plaques.

"We had already shown that in normal animals, fisetin can improve memory," says Pamela Maher, a senior staff scientist in Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory who led the new study. "What we showed here is that it also can have an effect on animals prone to Alzheimer's."

More than a decade ago, Maher discovered that fisetin helps protect neurons in the brain from the effects of aging. She and her colleagues have since—in both isolated cell cultures and mouse studies—probed how the compound has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on cells in the brain. Most recently, they found that fisetin turns on a cellular pathway known to be involved in memory.

"What we realized is that fisetin has a number of properties that we thought might be beneficial when it comes to Alzheimer's," says Maher.

So Maher—who works with Dave Schubert, the head of the Cellular Neurobiology Lab—turned to a strain of mice that have mutations in two genes linked to Alzheimer's disease. The researchers took a subset of these mice and, when they were only three months old, began adding fisetin to their food. As the mice aged, the researchers tested their memory and learning skills with water mazes. By nine months of age, mice that hadn't received fisetin began performing more poorly in the mazes. Mice that had gotten a daily dose of the compound, however, performed as well as normal mice, at both nine months and a year old.

"Even as the disease would have been progressing, the fisetin was able to continue preventing symptoms," Maher says.

In collaboration with scientists at the University of California, San Diego, Maher's team next tested the levels of different molecules in the brains of mice that had received doses of fisetin and those that hadn't. In mice with Alzheimer's symptoms, they found, pathways involved in cellular inflammation were turned on. In the animals that had taken fisetin, those pathways were dampened and anti-inflammatory molecules were present instead. One protein in particular—known as p35—was blocked from being cleaved into a shorter version when fisetin was taken. The shortened version of p35 is known to turn on and off many other molecular pathways. The results were published Dec. 17, 2013, in the journal Aging Cell.

Studies on isolated tissue had hinted that fisetin might also decrease the number of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's affected brains. However, that observation didn't hold up in the mice studies. "Fisetin didn't affect the plaques," says Maher. "It seems to act on other pathways that haven't been seriously investigated in the past as therapeutic targets."

Next, Maher's team hopes to understand more of the molecular details on how fisetin affects memory, including whether there are targets other than p35.

"It may be that compounds like this that have more than one target are most effective at treating Alzheimer's disease," says Maher, "because it's a complex disease where there are a lot of things going wrong."

They also aim to develop new studies to look at how the timing of fisetin doses affect its influence on Alzheimer's.

"The model that we used here was a preventive model," explains Maher. "We started the mice on the drugs before they had any memory loss. But obviously human patients don't go to the doctor until they are already having memory problems." So the next step in moving the discovery toward the clinic, she says, is to test whether fisetin can reverse declines in memory once they have already appeared.

Bulu Box CEO named Innovator of the Year

Bulu Box CEO named Innovator of the Year

Paul Jarrett, CEO and cofounder of Bulu Box, a startup discovery ecommerce and sampling platform for health, nutrition and weight loss products, was named Pipeline's 2013 Innovator of the Year Award by the Pipeline entrepreneurial fellowship program.

The Pipeline Innovator of the Year Award recognizes a Midwest entrepreneur whose company provides solutions for helping deliver better services more reliably and profitably. Thirteen 2013 candidates pitched their companies to a V.I.P. panel of entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and other industry giants. Jarrett distinguished himself from the other twelve candidates with a pitch about his weight loss transformation using what he provides consumers through Bulu Box: vitamins, supplements, and products to complement a healthy and active lifestyle.

"I am unbelievably honored and grateful to have won Innovator of the Year," said Jarrett. "We strive to provide new products to our subscribers and improve their healthy lifestyle by connecting them with companies passionate about doing so. This award is an indication of our growing presence in the market."

As co-founder of Bulu Box, Jarrett focuses on health and nutrition oriented products that can lead to more active lifestyles and new discoveries for consumers. Jarrett and his team explore products from top brands to help consumers find what works best with their lifestyle. Since their start in 2012, Bulu Box has built a large community of subscribers, implemented a rewards points program, created ecommerce accessibility to full-sized products, and introduced sampling technology. With this success, Jarrett is working closely with advisors to ensure Bulu Box's sustained growth.

The Innovator of the Year Award is presented each year to an individual who has demonstrated leadership, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and success. This year's ceremony was held Jan. 23, 2014 at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.