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Alzheimer's fears drive sales growth in cognitive category

Consumer research shows that Alzheimer's disease is the most feared health condition, topping cancer, diabetes or stroke. The bad news is that the risk of developing this condition is significant and increases with age. The good news for the manufacturers of supplements and functional foods is that consumers believe in the science that shows there are natural products out there that can help.

Think of all the diseases you or a loved one could suffer from. Which one scares you the most? Second most? If you picked Alzheimer’s, you’re not alone. New research presented in July at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that Alzheimer’s is the second-most feared disease, behind cancer, for Americans and Europeans.

A Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe telephone survey of 2,678 adult Americans, French, Germans, Spaniards and Poles found that more respondents fear Alzheimer’s than heart disease, stroke or diabetes. The good news for the ingredients industry is that between 27 and 63 percent of those respondents believe there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease.

Couple this statistic with the number of people looking to improve their moods and relieve stress, and it’s no surprise that sales of cognitive health ingredients are growing at a smart pace. Yearly sales increases in the category are topping 12 percent, says Kathy Lund, director of business development and marketing for AIDP, which distributes the new cognitive health ingredient Magtein.

“A hundred years ago, the average human life span was 50; now it’s 80 to 85,” she says. “We as a society are seeing the effects of living longer—in the beginning the concerns were with joints and pain, but now it’s moving to the brain.”

A variety of nonbranded ingredients—including omega-3s; vitamins B, D and E; zinc; phosphatidylserine; coenzyme Q10; ginkgo biloba; St. John’s wort; SAM-e and kava—are scientifically proven to slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s, reduce depression­ and anxiety, or improve overall cognitive health. Here’s a look at some of the newest or most studied branded ingredients.

Ingredients to keep focused

Kyowa Hakko’s Cognizin uses citicholine, a natural chemical found in every cell of the body, to enhance memory, concentration and focus. “There are several mechanisms of Cognizin. That’s part of the uniqueness and differentiation from other brain health products,” says Karen Todd, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko. Clinical research shows Cognizin increases the ATP that supplies the brain’s energy; and boosts the acetylcholine, dopamine and noradrenalin that increases focus and attention.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study presented at the May meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry involved 60 healthy women age 40 to 60. Subjects were divided into three groups and given a daily dose of 250 mg of Cognizin, 500 mg or a placebo. After 28 days, both Cognizin groups made fewer errors on an attention function test compared to the placebo group.

And a Harvard Medical School neuroimaging study presented at the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit meeting in June showed that as little as 500 mg of Cognizin a day can result in statistically significant improvements in attention, focus, memory and recall. Participants were given tests to measure attention span, reaction time and spatial memory while simultaneously receiving an MRI. They were then given a daily dose of either 500 mg or 2,000 mg of Cognizin for six weeks. A second imaging protocol showed that both groups had more correct responses, better spatial memory retrieval and increased brain metabolism after taking Cognizin.

Memory aids

Cyvex Nutrition’s Cognisetin, a fisetin flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier in vitro and stimulate the signaling pathways that promote long-term memory. The ingredient was awarded a patent earlier this year for fisetin’s role as a “neuroprotector capable of generating neuron cells in the presence of damage, promoting antioxidant synthesis, and reducing overactive brain- and spinal cord-specific immune defenses that contribute to age-related decline and/or conditions,” according to the company.

Fisetin has more than 10 years’ research behind it, and Katherine Bond, Cyvex’s director of business development, says the company is planning a human clinical trial on Cognisetin.

AIDP’s Magtein, (magnesium L-threonate), has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and raise magnesium levels in the brain. Magnesium helps increase density of brain neurons and improve cognitive function, Lund says.

Magtein was discovered by a group of MIT researchers and was found in an animal study published last year to improve short-term and long-term memory and spatial recognition. Preliminary results from a human study are expected to be released early next year, Lund says.  The ingredient was recently self-affirmed GRAS by AIDP.



Condition Specific Directory

Cognitive and Mood


Afrinatural US

Sceletium tortuosum


Aker BioMarine

Superba Krill Oil

Supports healthy brain function and memory due to its phospholipid DHA. DHA is an important building block of brain tissue and helps promote the serotonin and dopamine. Krill phospholipids are the most bio-efficient source for EPA and DHA, delivering more of these essential fatty acids to the cells and tissues.

[email protected]


Issaquah, Washington, USA


BI Nutraceuticals

Panax Ginseng Extracts



Bioenergy Ribose

Bioenergy Ribose supplementation reinvigorated Baby Boomers in a recent clinical trial. Both cognitive measures and objective measures improved an overall sense of energy.



SerinAid® Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)


Cognis Nutritional & Health

Omevital Omega-3 Fish Oil


Cyvex Nutrition


A fisetin-based neuroprotective ingredient shown through clinical research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to stimulate the signaling pathways that enhance long-term memory. Fisetin is a naturally occurring flavonoid that can be found in fruits and vegetables, including strawberries.

[email protected]


Irvine, California, USA


Denomega Nutritional Oils

Omega-360, Omega-Classic, Omega-Standard, Omega-360 Powder



Krill Oil



EPAX 1050 TG / EPAX 6015 TG



Fluxome Beta Glucan


Kyowa Hakko USA



Martek Biosciences






Nutrition 21

Chromax® Chromium Picolinate



pTeroPure Pterostilbene

Pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries and other fruits, is closely related to resveratrol and has been shown in animal studies to improve working memory and cross the blood-brain barrier.  pTeroPure Pterostilbene is suitable for pwder and oil-based supplements and products promoting enhanced cognitive function, concentration and memory.

[email protected]


Irivine, Calif.


San Francisco Herb & Natural Food

Peppermint leaf, chamomile flower, catnip leaf, strawberry leaf, linden leaf and flower, passion-flower herb, skullcap, licorice root and valerian root. Item #B993, 100 vegetarian capsules.

[email protected]

510-770-1215 x112

Fremont, California, USA

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