Bone and joint health and inflammation are universal concerns—and while they’re often considered the realm of the aging, research suggests a shift: “Joint health is a key concern across all generations, with 73% of U.S. supplement users likely to use supplements to help manage joint pain/stiffness if proven effective,” says Juliana Erickson, senior marketing manager in the Consumer Health & Nutrition branch of Switzerland-based Lonza, citing research commissioned by Lonza. “Millennials and Boomers showed the highest propensity to purchase supplement solutions in this area,” she adds. And this shift, she says, “is driven in part by the rapid growth of the sports nutrition market, but also by greater numbers of consumers adopting a proactive approach to their long-term health and wellbeing.”
This segment, in other words, can be marketed to just about anyone.
That said, it’s a tough one to navigate. The list of applicable ingredients is long, and the choices are many. Here, we’ll review the ingredients in this space, explore the benefits of a multi-ingredient supplement, and discuss how to help customers choose the supplement that’s best for them. Your customers should always discuss their health concerns and the supplements they take with a licensed healthcare practitioner—particularly if they’re already taking other medication—but you can ensure that they have an easy time choosing which supplements to bring to their doctor’s attention.
Aged Garlic Extract (AGE): Jay Levy, director of sales at Wakunaga of America, Mission Viejo, CA, notes that AGE has been shown to prevent the increase of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a), a protein that causes inflammation. He discussed a study that found that those who took AGE experienced an improvement in their immune cell activity and had lower LDL cholesterol levels. “The researchers concluded that, taken consistently, AGE might be beneficial for preventing chronic diseases linked to low-grade inflammation,” he said.
Andrographis: In a press release from HP Ingredients, the company announced that their ingredient ParActin, an extract of Andrographis paniculata, has been shown to significantly reduce pain, stiffness, and markers of fatigue in those with osteoarthritis of the knee. As explained in the release, other studies have shown that ParActin inhibits cartilage matrix-degrading enzymes, protects chondrocytes from oxidative stress injury, and helps regulate the inflammatory response.
Boswellia: “The bioactive constituents of boswellia, boswellic acids, have been shown in scientific studies to affect key enzymes involved in the maintenance of healthy tissues. Through these mechanisms, boswellia may help to support the immune system’s balanced response to the typical wear and tear of everyday life,” says Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, senior nutrition education manager at NOW, Bloomingdale, IL.
Looking at specific boswellic acids, “The most powerful member of the boswellic acid family is AKBA,” says Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education at Wisconsin-based EuroPharma/Terry Naturally. “It affects a multitude of inflammatory pathways, especially on 5-lipoxegenase inflammation,” which, she notes, is a major player in autoimmune conditions.
Calcium: Calcium builds bones—that’s well established. However, the calcium source can make a difference. Nena Dockery, technical services manager for Stratum Nutrition, Carthage, MO, says that eggshells are composed largely of calcium carbonate, which “has the advantage of being a natural source of calcium. Eggshells also contain small amounts of a wide range of other beneficial minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus. Unlike other natural calcium carbonate sources, eggshells do not contain measurable levels of heavy metals, so special precautions are unnecessary.” Eggshells also, she adds, contain small amounts of protein shown to facilitate absorption of calcium through the intestinal wall, upping the bioavailability.
Cetyl Myristoleate: This compound, according to Cecilia de la Torre, operations manager at Florida-based Flexcin, occurs naturally in mice, making them immune to arthritis. And while cetyl myristoleate doesn’t necessarily induce immunity in other mammals, de la Torre says that “CM8 [Flexcin’s branded ingredient] appears to have the ability to correct the imbalance created by chronic inflammation. It is speculated that CM8 stimulates the production of immunoglobulins and series 1 and 3 prostaglandins.” She adds that it helps in at least four different ways: as a lubricator, an anti-inflammatory, an immune system modulator, and a painkiller.
NOW uses Celadrin in several products—it consists of cetyl myristoleate and other cetylated, or esterified, fatty acids. Celadrin is distributed by Ashland, and the company’s site notes that it’s fast-acting, and has been shown to reduce discomfort within 30 minutes.
Chondroitin: “Chondroitin sulfate is a mucopolysaccharide that is found in cartilage, tendons and ligaments, where it is bound to proteins, such as collagen and elastin,” says Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, senior director of R&D/national educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition Co., Sugar Land, TX. “In joints, it can contribute to strength, flexibility and even shock absorption.” Current science, she says, indicates that chondroitin may provide the body with missing elements of cartilage, allowing the body to manufacture its own and promote healthy joints.
Collagen: “Collagen is one of the hottest ingredients,” asserts Samantha Ford, business development director at AIDP, City of Industry, CA. Sugarek MacDonald explains the role it plays in bones and joints: “Collagen provides the structural foundation for bones, joints, ligaments and cartilage, which is why bone and joint health overlaps.” Ford adds that “Collagen builds the framework for calcium to attach. It plays an essential role in improving bone flexibility—even the strongest bones can crack or break without collagen.”
Regarding source, Ford says: “Taste and processing often creates the primary differences. Collagens type I and III are most relevant to bone health and most often come from bovine sources. Collagen type II, commonly found in avian sources, targets joint and cartilage health.”
Lara Niemann, marketing director at Germany-based Gelita, notes that while topical usage is common and helpful, “recent scientific evidence confirms that the highest efficacy can be achieved when collagen is ingested orally.” Gelita’s Fortigel is absorbed in the intestines and accumulates in cartilage, where it can do its most important work. It can also be ingested in food form. Jarrow Formulas sells bone broth—high in collagen protein and other bone-building minerals, it’s a delicious way to ingest this nutrient. (For more on collagen and its applications in the sports nutrition category, go here.)
Curcumin: Curcumin is another hot ingredient—and deservedly so. Levy notes that “Curcumin reduces chronic inflammation by neutralizing free radicals and reactive oxygen species as well as reactive nitrogen species, and regulating multiple cellular signaling pathways. The most extensive results may stem from curcumin’s ability to inhibit transcription factor NF-kB, a major initiator of inflammatory processes in the body.” Levin notes that typical extracts consist of curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Both Wakunaga and NOW note that curcuminoids in extract form have a poor bioavailability; as such, the two companies use Meriva, a material from Indena that consists of curcumin complexed with phosphatidylcholine, shielding curcumin from water and helping it absorb into cells. Levy notes that this increases absorption 20-fold compared to standard curcumin.
Bluebonnet solves the bioavailability problem with CurcuWIN, which, Sugarek MacDonald says, is 46 times more bioavailable. Vida Lifescience, under their brand Aurora Nutrascience, sells liposomal curcumin—both as a standalone product and in their exoFlex—to achieve the desired bioavailability. America’s Finest, Inc. uses BioPerine, which improves the absorption and bioavailability of Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex.
Eggshell membrane. “The eggshell membrane is full of nutrients that can provide substantial benefits to human health,” says Dockery. “It’s predominantly protein. It contains types I, V, and X collagen as well as additional proteins, peptides and sulfur-containing amino acids. It also contains calcium, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate.”
Stratum’s brand, NEM, is minimally processed and heavily researched. “Studies indicate that NEM’s influence may begin in the gut with the gut-mediated immune system to facilitate intestinal absorption through an oral tolerance mechanism. The results from several clinical trials have reinforced in vitro cell culture studies and in vivo trials, which further reveal some of the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances involved in the mode of action for NEM.” She also notes that several trials have discovered that those using NEM show a decrease in a biomarker associated with cartilage breakdown.
Jack Brown, VP of sales and marketing at Lily of the Desert, Denton, TX, notes that NEM also contains glucosamine, keratin sulfate, and dermatin, and has yielded impressive results in clinical studies with regard to “increasing flexibility, maintaining healthy joint function and range of motion, as well as a decrease in pain and stiffness.”
Fructoborate: This one isn’t as well-known as some of the others, but according to Myers, it probably should be. “Fructoborate, a form of boron found naturally in fruits and vegetables, is a multitasker,” she says. “Not only does it increase the strength of the bone, it also raises vitamin D levels in the body. It was also clinically shown to reduce joint pain in 79% of volunteers suffering from mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Additionally, fructoborate reduced joint pain, stiffness, and inflexibility in 59% of volunteers with severe osteoarthritis in just 8 weeks.” Older customers might want to consider a vitamin D supplement with fructoborate.
Glucosamine: “Glucosamine sulfate plays an important role in joint health, including mobility,” says Sugarek MacDonald. “It helps stimulate the manufacture of cartilage components, as well as incorporate sulfur into cartilage. Studies have shown that some people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis taking glucosamine reported pain relief similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” She added that it can be stabilized with either sodium chloride—table salt—or potassium chloride. Bluebonnet uses potassium chloride, as most Americans get too much sodium and not enough potassium.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA): “HA plays a major role in our joints and is one of the most important components that make up the Synovial fluid, which cushions all of our joints,” says Jason Falbo, VP of new business development and international sales at Hyalogic, Riverside, MO. “It is the HA that helps to keep that fluid extremely viscous and gel-like by binding up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. The synovial fluid is responsible for helping to act as the shock absorber when we move, as well as keeping the cartilage at the ends of the bones hydrated.”
HA, Falbo says, is affected by compression and age: compression by breaking down the HA molecules, and aging by reducing the body’s ability to produce HA in the first place. “It is for this reason that it is important to supplement the body with an HA supplement like Hyalogic’s Synthovial Seven liquid, HA Lozenges or HA Gummies.” And, he notes, Synthovial Seven contains vegan HA, making it highly marketable.
Ipriflavone: “Ipriflavone is a derivative of the isoflavone daidzein,” says Jery Cochern, president of Pure Essence Labs, Las Vegas, NV. “It helps deposit calcium in bones. When used with sufficient calcium, it can help build and preserve healthy bone tissue.”
Magnesium: “Over half the body’s magnesium is found in the bone,” says Audrey Ross, N.D., senior national educator at New York-based Country Life Vitamins. And it does important work there, according to Andreas Koch, marketing director at Pure Essence: “While calcium builds bone strength, magnesium helps make bones pliable, which is important for seniors who are at risk of falling and breaking bones and hips. Magnesium is also needed for proper bone formation and supports healthy bone density.” A tip here: Koch recommends taking vitamin D with magnesium. “Magnesium helps convert vitamin D into its active form, which again helps calcium’s placement.”
Here, it’s also important to consider form. There is a difference, according to Marita Schauch, N.D., a health educator working with Natural Factors, which has a U.S. base in Monroe, WA. “Magnesium oxide can be used as a laxative, due to a lower absorption rate of around 4-5%. Magnesium citrate has a more gentle laxative effect, and is rapidly absorbed in the GI tract, with an absorption rate of 25-30%. Chelated forms have just been bound to a substance that is more easily absorbed—for example, magnesium citrate is a chelated magnesium.”
Ensure that your products source their minerals from a reliable supplier—Balchem/Albion, for instance, has been making chelated minerals for over 50 years.
MSM: “Human and animal studies have shown MSM helps mitigate the oxidative stress that can lead to chronic inflammation,” says Tim Hammond, VP of sales & marketing at Bergstrom Nutrition, Vancouver, WA. “Its mechanism likely stems from its ability to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines and supply a rich source of sulfur.” MSM has also been shown, Hammond notes, to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and the activation of NF-kB. “Research suggests that MSM reduces osteoarthritis related pain, swelling, and improves function. Studies performed on healthy athletes also suggest a reduction in joint pain.”
Hammond adds, “MSM’s effectiveness appears to partly result from the mitigation of underlying causes. Consumers want products that improve their health, not mask their symptoms.” Also: MSM has a low toxicity and has been shown to be well tolerated.
Omega-3s: When it comes to fish oil-based omega-3, Sugarek MacDonald says, Bluebonnet’s EPAX Omega-3 Joint Formula “provides the correct amount and ratio of EPA (750 mg) and DHA (134 mg) from Peruvian deep sea cold water fish that have been shown through human clinical studies to support joint health. Additionally, this formula contains EPA and DHA in their natural triglyceride form, instead of the commonly used ethyl ester form, since dietary fats naturally exist in the triglyceride form.”
There’s also a plant-based source, for your vegetarian customers: “Fortunately,” says Dockery, “our bodies can make omega-3 fatty acids from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant sources.” Stratum’s Ahiflower seed oil contains predominantly omega-3 fatty acids, including ALA and stearidonic acid (SDA), which converts in the body to EPA. “Ahiflower contains the important omega-6 GLA, as well as omega-9s and other fatty acids,” Dockery adds. For those customers worried about their omega-6 intake, Dockery notes: “The problem for those consuming a typical Western diet is not just the imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6, but the sources of the omega-6 and the types of food it is found in.” Highly processed food isn’t great; a plant-based supplement to a plant-based diet, though, is fine.
Phosphatidylcholine (PC): “PC has been found to be a particularly effective anti-inflammatory in stress conditions,” says Levy. “One study performed on mice found that PC, when used as a pre-treatment, provided beneficial effects on the functional and microcirculatory characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis. It can help reduce TNF-a, a protein in the body that causes inflammation. This unique phospholipid also aids absorption of other ingredients, such as curcumin, that would otherwise be difficult for the body to absorb and utilize.”
Vitamin D: Another nutrient we need more of as we age, Myers notes that “one study found that 53% of postmenopausal women volunteers were deficient in vitamin D, and only 17% had sufficient blood levels of the nutrient.” And according to Dr. Ross, “Vitamin D3 is essential to keeping the calcium and phosphorus balanced in the blood so it can be used to build bone.” Myers concurs, and adds: “Because it does so much, it’s easy to forget that vitamin D does more than keep bones strong, it keeps knee cartilage stronger, too.”
Vitamin K: “Vitamin K2 is an often-overlooked nutrient that plays a critical role in regulating and directing calcium to the bone,” says Dr. Ross. “Country Life’s Vegan K2 strawberry flavored melt is an excellent way to incorporate this valuable nutrient.” Country Life uses K1 in the form of phytonadione, found in dark leafy vegetables; NattoPharma, a respected supplier, sells K2 as menaquinone-7, derived from chickpea protein or natto.
Expert consensus: These ingredients can work even better together. “Research demonstrates MSM has synergistic effects when combined with other ingredients like glucosamine, boswellic acid, and collagen,” says Hammond. “A recent study demonstrated that by adding 500 mg of MSM with glucosamine and chondroitin, the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin doubled over the same formula without MSM.”
Noting that the inflammation response occurs in two phases—one of tissue destruction, one of healing and recovery—and that NSAIDs have been documented to prevent tissue healing, Robin Rogosin, VP of product development at LifeSeasons, Lewisville, TX, says that “It appears that herbs such as turmeric, Boswellia, tart cherry, hops, skullcap, and white willow, as well as protease enzymes, quercetin, and bromelain do not inhibit the second phase of the inflammation response. LifeSeasons Inflamma-X provides natural inflammation support.” Indeed, she recommends using Inflamma-X with Mobili-T for maximal benefits.
AIDP distributes a product called KoACT, a patented collagen and calcium combination. Ford notes that “KoACT provides calcium and collagen through a unique process that models natural bone structure, resulting in a synergistic effect of both nutrients into the bones, creating superior bone strength.”
Cochern notes that JointEssence contains ApresFLEX boswellia, cordyceps, dong quai, fo-ti, red sage, and white peony, as well as eggshell membrane and boron. “Boron is a trace mineral that’s just vital for good joint health, and the botanical extracts are tonics for what Traditional Chinese Medicine calls the Kidney System. We add them because, according to TCM, the Kidney System governs the joints, which means that weakness in the joints results from weakness in the kidney system. We believe that this not only strengthens what we can do for joints, but also helps build health as a whole.”
Flexcin, too, looks to provide “one complete formulation,” according to de la Torre. She notes that the company’s CM8 is combined with hydrolyzed type II collagen, glucosamine sulfate potassium, MSM, bromelain and digestive enzymes to facilitate absorption and utilization.
There are also more targeted supplements. Noting that “the back bone is essentially a series of interconnected joints,” Myers says that EuroPharma’s Curamin Low Back Pain supplement includes BCM-95 curcumin, BosPure boswellia, and DLPA—the same supplements included in the other two Curamin formulas—but it also has devil’s claw extract, which “helps increase hyaluronic acid synthesis in collagen-producing chondrocytes to strengthen cartilage.” There are more joints in the body than just the weight-bearing knees and hips, she says, and they’re all worth taking care of.
Brown from Lily of the Desert notes that ingredients that aren’t necessarily for joint health can help, too. The company’s Q-Actin cucumber extract acts as an anti-inflammatory, delivered neatly to the joints by Lily’s aloe vera. “Aloe also helps to increase nutrient absorption into cells,” he says, “ensuring maximum efficiency.”
On the other hand, according to Dan Lifton, CEO at Quality of Life, Purchase, NY, “We don’t recommend that people take several different joint supplements, and so that’s part of the reason we name, label and market our joint-health and joint-health-supportive products in ways that are clear to consumers. Cartilast can protect the cartilage we have and help people to rebuild cartilage; Cartiflex improves joint flexibility and lubricates the joints for people who are physically active, featuring BioCell collagen; and Cartiquil promotes joint comfort in a special fast-acting formula.” So it is, actually, necessary to pick one.
Effective Merchandising Strategies that Keep Shoppers Coming Back
by Daniel Lohman, CPSA, Natural Industry Strategic Advisor, Brand Secrets and Strategies
The customer journey has changed. Retailers who cater to the specific needs of shoppers have a competitive advantage in their market. Shoppers today want to feel special and the best way to do this is through personalization. Personalization of your product assortment, your friendly customer service people, your promotional programs, and your merchandising strategies. We’ll use inflammation to illustrate how this works and how it can help drive sales in your store.
The best strategy for merchandising your store is to first think about the customer journey. What does each customer want? What problem are they trying to solve? If you can do this effectively, then you can turn occasional customers into loyal evangelistic shoppers. One overlooked focus area is inflammation. This can be a broad topic covering a lot of different issues but understanding the specific problem your customer is trying to solve can simplify the solution you offer.
There can be a big difference between shoppers with joint issues compared to shoppers looking to reduce stress or customers looking for help with pain management. I find that most shoppers don’t automatically understand and appreciate how these are all connected. This is an opportunity to help educate your customers while learning more about how to meet their specific needs—personalization of your in-store sales strategy.
Inflammation is in fact at the core of many of the problems that shoppers face. It can create issues in other areas including heart health, stress, mood, and much much more. Helping shoppers understand the correlation between all the different issues inflammation can impact will give you additional ways to help your shoppers find lasting solutions to their problems. The best part about this is that the solution may be found in several different departments across your store. For example, foods that naturally reduce inflammation in the grocery department like turmeric.
The produce section is always a great place to start when helping a shopper look beyond the supplement category. The supplement category can be extremely confusing to most shoppers. Produce departments include simple, easy–to–understand ingredients. It can be the gateway into other categories across the entire store. You should also consider dual merchandising opportunities like merchandising turmeric supplements in the grocery department with turmeric.
From there, help educate your shoppers about other products in other departments that have turmeric as an ingredient, or any of the other inflammation reducing or other ingredients they are interested in. When you take the time to help educate your shoppers, it builds a unique bond between your store and them. This is the best way to build a loyal community around your store and to keep them coming back again and again. It is also the best way to get them to recommend your store to their friends and family. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
Most retailers—especially mainstream retailers—tend to spend all their efforts re-acquiring the same customer over and over again. This can be very expensive and unsustainable for independent retailers. The unique bond you form with your loyal shopper can help you compete more effectively against any retailer.
Retailers that are able to put the customer first are going to win in the long run. This simple strategy can give you a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. Personalizing your merchandising strategy around the way customers shop your store is how you remain relevant in any economy and across any market.
For more insights from Daniel Lohman, check out the Tip of the Month here.
How to Choose?
When choosing which supplements to stock, start with a reputable manufacturer—one that backs up their supplements with formula-specific research. It’s also not a bad idea to choose one that uses branded ingredients, which tend to have their own reputation and research. Lifton notes, “All of our products have at least one proprietary branded ingredient (PBI), so our products are all backed by human clinical data. The ingredients with the best clinical science behind them are PBIs. We want all of our products to be safe, effective, and featuring ingredients backed by human clinical research.” Branded ingredients mean that you can also do your own research on ingredient and supplier. For instance, a product formulated with Soft Gel Technologies’ Perluxan will inhibit COX-2 while only mildly inhibiting COX-1, avoiding GI distress while relieving pain—and you can find and contact the supplier directly, and read research on that specific ingredient.
Lonza’s Erickson suggests stocking supplements that target mobility. “As we age, our muscles, bones and joints undergo physiological changes that can affect mobility, and this can ultimately impact upon individuals’ independence and well-being. It is important, however,” she continues, “to offer bone and joint health solutions with benefits not only to aging consumers, but to consumers of all ages.” She notes the rapid growth of the sports nutrition market, and that Millennials are “adopting a proactive approach to their long-term health and wellbeing.”
Dockery agrees: “Joints can be stressed at any age, including those of young endurance athletes and weekend warriors. Ingredients that have been shown to support comfort and flexibility in those engaging in unaccustomed athletic endeavors can help ensure that joints remain healthy and strong, even when wear-and-tear would normally begin taking its toll.”
When it comes to helping a customer choose from your stock, start, says Pure Essence’s Koch, with some fact-finding. “Why are they looking for a bone/joint product? Do they have an acute muscle injury instead? Or a wear-n-tear joint issue? It’s also wise to ask what their diet consists of. Are they getting enough calcium and magnesium in their foods?” He adds that it’s worth noting that supplements are long-term commitments: “There is no overnight bandage.” And, finally, some basic education. How does each supplement work? He advises discussing nutrients that work together—“The Super D-K Calcium Plus includes vitamins D3 and K2—revered for building strong, healthy bones, the vitamins work efficiently in concert with the calcium and magnesium that’s already abundantly in this formula.”
Dr. Schauch seconds this: “It’s important to look for bone formation co-factors in bone formulas as well as appropriate forms and therapeutic dosing of essential nutrients. For example, what form of calcium or magnesium is in the formula?” For joint care, too, she thinks your customers would be best served by a formula: “It’s important to have nutrients that will not only help to reduce inflammation but to support healthy joint stability in tendons and ligaments.”
Dockery adds one final recommendation: “Retailers should understand the importance of healthy inflammation and be able to help guide consumers regarding when supplementation with a product designed to curb inflammation is the right path for supporting an optimal inflammatory response to the physical stresses of everyday life.” For instance, a customer on their feet all day, every day, might experience swelling around the ankles; that’s the body reacting to inflammatory conditions. However, an excess of free radicals caused by a poor diet is something that can be handled with curcumin, boswellia, NEM, or other ingredients that target undue inflammation.
A Plant-Based Diet Can Help Ease Inflammation
There is, as with everything, a dietary component to bone and joint health. For customers already having issues, diet may not be enough to address the problem. Levy notes that, while adding foods like garlic and turmeric to meals is “arguably a healthy move, benefits are limited.” The components that are useful and helpful in supplements tend not to be particularly strong or bioavailable in food. That said, many causes of inflammation come from a poor diet. “We are awash in a sea of inflammatory triggers,” Myers notes, “from the toxins to which we are exposed to the Frankenfoods that have entered our diet.”
In terms of dietary advice, Levin recommends a “wholesome plant-based diet.” A diet high in animal fat, he says, is “implicated in inflammatory joint problems, as is insulin resistance, so maintaining healthy blood sugar is also important.” Processed foods—including white flour, white sugar, and processed meats and cheeses—should be avoided. Those looking for more guidance can go for a Mediterranean diet, Levin says, “where we properly balance the daily pro-inflammatory factors with compensating ones.” For more guidance, check out WholeFoods’ special focus on the Mediterranean diet. Beyond that, Levin also recommends polyphenol-rich foods like green tea, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Another useful dietary addition would be anything containing probiotics. Levin notes that gut health is related to a balanced immune system, so yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, natto, or your customers’ preferred fermented food could make a difference here.
Food doesn’t just support a healthy inflammatory response—it can also aid in bone and joint health. According to a booklet from Jarrow Formulas, Los Angeles, CA, bone broths are a great idea for those looking to maintain health through food. “Bone broths have traditionally formed the basis for nutrient-rich tonic foods considered to be good for the bones, joints, and immune system. Bone broth is particularly high in collagen protein and minerals that can be good for building bones.”
It’s also not a bad idea to jump on the functional foods train. Collagen is a particularly trendy ingredient, and, according to Lara Niemann, marketing director at Gelita, “collagen peptides are neutral in odor and taste, rapidly absorbed by the body by virtually 100%, non-allergenic, and free from carbohydrates, cholesterol, fat, gluten, and sugar.” In their natural form, Niemann says, they don’t react with other ingredients, making collagen peptides useful for a variety of applications—a fact particularly reassuring for those worried about the taste and texture of collagen-containing foods. This is a good opportunity to sell across categories, too: Niemann notes that while topical collagen is useful, “the highest efficacy can be achieved when collagen is ingested orally.” And Gelita’s Fortigel in particular is a great choice; it’s absorbed into the intestines and accumulates in cartilage, Niemann says, where it stimulates cartilage cells to increase production of both collagen and proteoglycans.
Keeping Pets Healthy & Active
“The fundamentals of the joint cartilage make-up is similar in pets and humans, as collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals,” says Gelita’s Niemann. Gelita sells Petagile, collagen peptides optimized for joint health in pets—but it’s the same concept as Gelita’s ingredients made for human use. Flexcin’s product line backs this up—their Flexpet is made with the same ingredients as Flexcin, optimized for pets and in a smaller dose. That being said, Niemann notes that any formula intended for pets should be studied in pets: “Scientific rigor offers pet owners and the pet supplement industry assurance of efficacy.” Don’t just give pets smaller doses of a human supplement.
The Future: It’s All in the Delivery
“Supplement delivery formats continue to evolve with changing consumer needs, preferences and lifestyles,” says Erickson, “with innovative dosage forms increasingly breaking into the mainstream. Lonza’s research showed that capsules are still the preferred dosage form for 42% of consumers, over other delivery formats.” She notes that Lonza is on the forefront of capsule innovation: their Vcaps Plus capsules can deliver small dosages, the company’s DUOCAP capsule-in-capsule technology can be used to deliver two ingredients that would otherwise react with each other, and its Licaps technology is designed for secure containment of liquids and semi-solids. Lonza is also taking advantage of beadlet technology, which allows manufacturers to formulate ingredients with sustained release profiles; tablet-in-capsule and lipid multiparticulate technologies, Erickson adds, are also expanding options in this area.
That said, there are customers who would prefer to get their supplements in a different form. Jarrow Formulas, Los Angeles, CA, is trying to alleviate pill fatigue through the company’s Beyond Bone Broth supplement drink mixes—formulated with bioactive collagen types I and II, chondroitin, calcium, and JarroSil Activated Silicon, which helps build cartilage and activate the enzymes involved in cross-linking collagen—which, as Brown notes, is an “easy-to-take alternative to capsules or tablet formulations.”
Lily of the Desert, too, is going for a powder—a quick-dissolve option intended to be taken orally without water. “You can take it whenever it is needed,” says Brown. “The packet delivery method is a great solution to the millions who live with ongoing joint issues.”
Solgar provides their Calcium/Magnesium Citrate with Vitamin D3 in a liquid form, too—not necessarily as a drink; the serving size is one tablespoon—but in a variety of flavors, including orange-vanilla, strawberry, and blueberry, making it ideal for ensuring that children are willing to take their calcium. WF