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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
At October’s SupplySide West trade show, NAI made a big splash with a new version of CarnoSyn called SR CarnoSyn. SR CarnoSyn is a patented, slow-release version of CarnoSyn that NAI says focuses on the healthy aging market and not on athletes.
CarnoSyn, a patented beta-alanine ingredient from Natural Alternatives International (NAI; Carlsbad, CA), is a widely known and used ingredient in the sports nutrition market, including by Olympic athletes. This instant-release ingredient, CarnoSyn, provides the amino acid beta-alanine, which supports synthesis of muscle carnosine in the body. Carnosine acts as a buffer against lactic acid, which results in delayed onset of muscle fatigue and failure, helping athletes to perform longer and better over the course of their workouts. At October’s SupplySide West trade show, NAI made a big splash rolling out a brand new version of CarnoSyn, called SR CarnoSyn. SR CarnoSyn is a patented, slow-release version of CarnoSyn that NAI says focuses on the healthy aging market and not on athletes.
Carnosine levels in the body naturally decline as people age. At SupplySide West, Mark LeDoux, NAI’s CEO and chairman of the board of directors, said that NAI “serendipitously” discovered that its beta-alanine, which helps the body produce carnosine, also poses significant benefits for aging adults.
“We started getting anecdotal information from people who were giving [regular CarnoSyn] to their moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas who were having challenges just getting out of bed or with mobility," he said. "Their joints were sore; they’d forgotten where they put their car keys-all the things that start happening to us after the age of 50.”
“We had absolutely no intention of finding something that was going to be associated with reducing sarcopenia or enhancing life for the elderly-but now almost all of our research is conducted in this space,” he said.
LeDoux said the company started looking at the thousands of studies that have been done on the role of carnosine in the body. Remember that CarnoSyn and SR CarnoSyn beta-alanine ingredients help the body produce carnosine. They found researchers studying “things like neuroscience, endocrinology, even gastroenterology.” More researchers became interested in studying the effects of CarnoSyn specifically in older adults, he said, and soon NAI began funding numerous studies focused on this demographic.
The results, he said, were impressive in terms of the ingredient’s benefits seen in five key health areas of concern to aging adults: brain health, muscle function, heart health, systemic protection, and bone health.
First, muscle function: Carnosine levels drop as people age, resulting in a reduction in muscle mass (sarcopenia) and function. SR CarnoSyn supports healthy muscle function during aging by helping the body synthesize carnosine. This means it helps to aid in balance and helps aging adults maintain strength for everyday activities, says NAI.
By helping the body produce carnosine, SR CarnoSyn also supports brain health. Because carnosine is a strong antioxidant, it helps fight glycation that otherwise leads to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which ultimately ends up damaging brain cells and function. By supporting brain health, carnosine may help bolster cognitive function, thereby supporting memory, executive function, focus, and possibly also decreasing occasional anxiety.
SR CarnoSyn supplementation is also associated with heart health. Because carnosine prevents lipid oxidation in the bloodstream, it thereby supports healthy circulation. It also assists with vasodilation, helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and also regulates muscle contraction.
Other benefits include bone health-again, by reducing glycation in the body. It also offers systemic protection because carnosine itself can chelate heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and platinum, helping to shuttle those heavy metals out of the body. And it supports healthy blood sugar levels, regulates the immune system, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent.
LeDoux said that altogether, NAI has been researching the aging benefits of SR CarnoSyn for over a decade and is now coming to market with the ingredient science. Some of the studies NAI has sponsored were done in nursing homes, where subjects saw benefits such as better muscle development, more mobility, and even better cognitive function, he said. And, he added, subjects often saw results quickly, in as little as three months.
SR CarnoSyn versus CarnoSyn
One of the key differences between CarnoSyn and SR CarnoSyn is their release profiles. Typically, athletes who consume CarnoSyn can experience paresthesia, a tingling sensation. But because this new version of the ingredient, SR CarnoSyn, is a slow-release ingredient, consumers taking SR CarnoSyn will not experience those tingly feelings and will receive a slow and steady release of beta-alanine over hours.
The beta-alanine dosage recommended for those taking SR CarnoSyn is even lower than that used by athletes taking CarnoSyn, LeDoux said. “What we are discovering is that for purposes of healthy aging, it’s a lower dose that you need,” he said. “We’re not trying to create weekend warrior athletes. We’ve actually gotten results at 2.4 g, but just to be safe, we say the research has demonstrated that 2.4-3.2 g will deliver.”
By providing beta-alanine, CarnoSyn and SR CarnoSyn differ from supplements on the market that focus on delivering carnosine directly. LeDoux said this is for good reason. First, he said, carnosine itself is not readily absorbed by the body, and the body must first break carnosine down into histidine and beta-alanine. By delivering beta-alanine directly in CarnoSyn or SR CarnoSyn, the body does not have to go through the additional step of further breaking carnosine down, and the ingredients are also less expensive than carnosine itself, LeDoux said.
Building on the Reputation of CarnoSyn
CarnoSyn is already a well-known sports nutrition ingredient globally, and NAI is hoping that SR CarnoSyn will become its counterpart in the healthy aging market-an even broader market that LeDoux estimates is more than 20 times the size of the athletic market alone.
SR CarnoSyn could also benefit from the widespread awareness and usage that CarnoSyn already enjoys. CarnoSyn itself is supported by over 50 studies commissioned by NAI alone, with many more studies done by other researchers on beta-alanine’s athletic benefits in general.
CarnoSyn ingredients bring regulatory clout in the form of a new dietary ingredient (NDI) notification to FDA, received earlier this year. The company says CarnoSyn-and now SR CarnoSyn-are the only beta-alanine ingredients in the U.S. that have successfully filed an NDI with FDA. SR CarnoSyn is also self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe.
All of the benefits CarnoSyn offers add up to an increase in the quality of life for aging adults. “I think it can be a flagship [ingredient in the healthy aging market] because it addresses five of the major concerns that are critical in the minds of people in the category," LeDoux said.
The dietary supplement and the healthy aging markets are ripe for an ingredient like SR CarnoSyn, he added. “We’re looking to extend the quality of life for older people and reduce healthcare costs. The reality of it is, aging adults are looking for answers to questions that don’t just involve medicine. They want solutions, not masking symptoms.”
“If you look at the marketplace, the market size for global dietary supplements is almost $120 billion…In the U.S., the market size just in the next four years is supposed to be almost $60 billion. The aging population is really the wheelhouse for this ingredient,” he said, noting that older adults have more income discretion to purchase supplements. “Supplement use is growing like crazy in matures and baby boomers, and the reason it’s growing is because when people find ingredients that work, they’re incredibly loyal to them.
“One of the things I’m suggesting to companies is, here’s the baseline science,” he said. “Here is a substance. You can use it to blend with other ingredients in your food preparations, your beverage preparations, your supplements….Let’s work together. Let’s build a product, let’s do the clinical studies, let’s prove the science. And then let’s go to market.”
The company has already trialed SR CarnoSyn in delivery formats ranging from tablets to gummies, chewables, powders, beverages, and extruded bars. LeDoux said NAI is also doing stability work in RTDs.