In the newest of these studies5, performed on mice and published in Behavioural Brain Research, Lactium was shown to facilitate and promote sleep "with no or minimal sedative properties," Skop reports. “Lactium naturally enhances sleep without the groggy side effects that can be attributed to drugs, thereby positioning Lactium as an ideal sleep aid for natural products marketers,” he says, particularly those whose reach extends into athletic supplements.
Looking to Lipids
Building on phosphatidylserine’s (PS) association with cognitive benefits, lipids-based ingredients supplier Enzymotec offers EnzySport, a formulation for increased stamina and faster recovery based on the supplier’s proprietary Sharp PS soy-based ingredient, which is “already well established in the cognitive-health category,” says president and CEO Ariel Katz. The ingredient is marketed as potentially “improving focus and decision making, as well as the perception of improved general well-being,” which are “of utmost performance for those dealing with sports,” adds Avissara.
Avissara points to all of Enzymotec’s PS products, including “a novel grade" combined with omega-3, as “opening opportunities in a wide range of applications and target markets,” including sports supplements.
And as for Chemi Nutra, the company says this about AlphaSize on its website: “AlphaSize A-GPC has interesting utility in ‘mind-to-muscle’ sports nutrition formulations, where it acts to optimize muscular power output, sharpen agility, and also delay mental fatigue. This is due to its action involving motor-unit activation of muscle fibers and subsequent muscle contraction, as well as due to its mental-sharpness benefits.”
As a brain-health ingredient, A-GPC is an important dietary source of choline, one of the key neurotransmitters for brain and memory function. Last year, Chemi Nutra announced a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study6 published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that found that 600 mg of AlphaSize daily for six days improved lower-body muscle strength in subjects (13 college-aged males).
The subjects underwent lower- and upper-body strength tests. Researchers found that the subjects’ strength improved significantly during lower-body testing. (In the upper-body test, the improvement in strength was not statistically significant, which the researchers said may be due to a high variability of upper-body strength among the subjects that may have limited statistical power.)
The effects on lower-body strength are promising, the researchers wrote. “The results of the study suggest that A-GPC is effective at increasing lower-body force production after six days of supplementation. Given that, in many sports, it is understood that a very small change in performance, often times less than 2%, can significantly affect outcomes, it is important to note that the six days of A-GPC resulted in greater than a 3% increase in lower-body isometric strength.”
The scientists posited that A-GPC’s effects on strength may be due to increasing bioavailable choline. A-GPC is converted to phosphatidylcholine, a precursor to choline, and choline in turn is converted to acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter. According to Chemi Nutra, “Exhaustive and repeated exercise can compromise motor neuron activity at the neuromuscular junction, and it is believed that motor neurons cannot manufacture and release acetylcholine fast enough to maintain transmission of the action potential from the motor neurons to the muscles.” By boosting acetylcholine synthesis, a supplement like A-GPC may help counter the “signaling fatigue” that often contributes to muscular fatigue and loss of strength, as well as muscle performance, because acetylcholine helps control speed of muscle contraction.
This is the first test to study the effects of A-GPC directly on isometric strength. The researchers suggested that further studies, including in vitro testing, be done to “demonstrate that A-GPC has the potential to augment neurotransmitter levels in motor neurons.”
Chemi Nutra funded the study. “Chemi Nutra continues to explore how its branded, patented, AlphaSize alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline (A-GPC) can improve exercise performance, by focusing on its powerful role in facilitating explosive power output, speeding up reaction time, improving jumping ability, improving eye-hand coordination, and, of course, improving all cognitive measures—focus, memory, learning, and recall,” said Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra, in a press release.
Finding Opportunity at the Crossroads of Physical and Cognitive Wellness
The United States is seeing an aging but active population combined with growing public interest in both mental wellness and physical fitness. It is also seeing a sports-nutrition industry that has grown 67% in the past five years (from roughly $4.4 billion to $7.4 billion, according to analysis from Euromonitor). The time seems right for marketing cognitive-health ingredients to the athletic- and fitness-supplements industry, and for highlighting the mental elements of exercise and athletic performance to supplement consumers.
Brands that can successfully find and capitalize on the overlap between brain health, physical fitness, and athletic performance will perhaps be best positioned to benefit from current trends.
- E Roche et al., “Biochemical and psychological changes in university students performing aerobic exercise and consuming lemon verbena extracts,” Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research, vol. 13, no. 2 (2015)
- Panahi Y et al., “Investigation of the efficacy of adjunctive therapy with bioavailability-boosted curcuminoids in major depressive disorder,” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 29, no. 1 (January 2015): 17-21
- Tapia-Rojas C et al., “Andrographolide activates the canonical Wnt signalling pathway by a mechanism that implicates the non-ATP competitive inhibition of GSK-3β: autoregulation of GSK-3β in vivo,” The Biochemical Journal, vol. 466, no. 2 (March 1, 2015): 415-430
- Serrano FG et al., “Andrographolide reduces cognitive impairment in young and mature AβPPswe/PS-1 mice,” Molecular Neurodegeration. Published online December 18, 2014.
- Dela Peña IJ et al., “A tryptic hydrolysate from bovine milk αs1-casein enhances pentobarbital-induced sleep in mice via the GABAA receptor,” Behavioural Brain Research, vol. 313 (July 2016): 184–190
- Bellar D et al., “The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Published online November 17, 2015.