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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
Nitric oxide–boosting dietary supplements continue gaining traction in markets like sports nutrition.
Nitric oxide–boosting dietary supplements continue gaining interest in markets like sports nutrition. Nitric oxide (NO) boosters help increase nitric oxide levels in the body, which in turn improves vasodilation (dilating blood vessels) and blood flow. This helps improve nutrient and oxygen delivery-for instance, to the muscles. The result is better overall health and physical performance and endurance, especially when delivered as a pre-workout supplement. Nitric oxide–boosting ingredients vary from exogenous dietary nitrate supplements to ingredients that can help the body increase its own production of nitric oxide.
At November’s SupplySide West show, several suppliers unveiled new nitric oxide–boosting ingredients that hit on growing consumer demands in the sports nutrition market these days: stimulant-free, plant-based performance enhancers with proven efficacy.
FitNox from Glanbia
Glanbia Nutritionals (Chicago) launched its new ingredient, FitNox, through a partnership with Aurea Biolabs (India). The ingredient is plant-based, containing three ingredients that work synergistically to boost NO production: Moringa oleifera leaf extract, pomegranate (Punica granatum) extract, and black ginger (Kaempferia parviflora) extract. The ingredient utilizes a “patent-pending plant-based matrix technology” called PNS Technology (Polar-Nonpolar-Sandwich Technology) that helps boost solubility and absorption and eliminates the need for carriers or binders, the firm says. It is suited for formulating into beverages, as well as tablets and capsules.
Sarah Flynn, PhD, product technology manager, Glanbia Nutritionals, said this ingredient stands out because it offers a low dose of just 250 mg. “When you take a look at some competing ingredients, the dose could range anywhere from 5 g to 10 g,” she said at SupplySide West. “Our low dose allows for easy incorporation into any ready-to-drink beverage, or in tablets or capsules.”
Glanbia has performed two published studies on FitNox. The first is a short-term, one-day, 24-subject randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the initial NO response (in blood serum and saliva) after subjects consumed the ingredient.1 Flynn said subjects saw a 336% increase in nitric oxide levels as quickly as one hour after taking the supplement, as measured through nitrate (NO3-) and nitrite (NO2-) levels, both of which are markers indicating the level of nitric oxide in the body. “In addition to that, we saw that its effects were long-lasting,” she said. “The nitric oxide levels remained elevated for up to 10 hours, so that is really significant.”
The second study was a 22-day, 24-subject study in which the participants took 250 mg of FitNox daily and then performed exercise (running on a treadmill).2 The researchers again saw an increase in nitric oxide production, but in addition, they saw that markers of muscle fatigue-LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) and MDA (malondialdehyde)-were significantly reduced after supplementing with the ingredient for 22 days. The treadmill runners were able to run for a longer period of time and saw an 18% increased time to exhaustion.
Flynn said FitNox works via the nitric oxide synthase pathway (NOS pathway). “We believe the ingredient works through the NOS pathway, so it’s not necessarily that it's providing a source of nitrates; it's acting on the enzyme to produce nitric oxide. So it's acting on your own body to help support or stimulate the production of nitric oxide.”
And what’s more, she said, the second study showed a significant increase in subjects’ dopamine levels-dopamine concentration increased by 36%-which likely enabled FitNox takers to perform better during exercise. “Dopamine is a marker for reward and cognition, and for motivation. These ingredients have previously been shown through scientific studies to support dopamine levels,” she said.
FitNox signals a new direction for Glanbia Nutritionals in the sports nutrition market. The company has long been known for its dairy protein ingredients for sports nutrition. Flynn said this ingredient stands out because it is a fully plant-based, stimulant-free, natural way to boost sports performance. In the sports market, she said. “We see this as a really nice fit as a botanical product for those customers who aren’t looking to get a synthetic product. We see a lot of sports nutrition ingredients that might be made through chemical synthesis. FitNox comes from a natural source.”
Looking at some nitric oxide–boosting ingredients launched in the market in recent years, “you can see there are a significant number of launched ingredients that contain alanine and caffeine and citric acid,” she continued. “There are not too many plant-based ingredients, so FitNox is really providing a new, plant-based solution and catering to the vegan market. We are seeing more hardcore sports brands looking for clean-label products that cater to the vegan segment. So we expect that to be a sweet spot for this product.”
S7 by FutureCeuticals
FutureCeuticals Inc. (Momence, IL) introduced a new nitric oxide–boosting ingredient of its own, called S7. The ingredient is a blend of seven plant-based ingredients and has been clinically shown to increase nitric oxide levels by up to 230% over baseline, the firm says. With a small, 50-mg dose, S7 helps the body boost its own nitric oxide production, as opposed to supplying the body with exogenous dietary nitrates.
The company said in a press release: “S7 offers clean-label confidence as a plant-based ingredient that is ideal for applications in sports nutrition products such as ready-to-mix and ready-to-drink pre-workout, muscle pump and performance products, energy drinks, and more.”
“The NO market has been all about nitrates”-exogenous nitrates-“until now,” said Andrew Wheeler, director of marketing, FutureCeuticals, at SupplySide West. By contrast, he said, S7 is a “non-nitrate, NO-boosting product that is all plant-based. It’s helping your body produce NO at a very high level. It’s a really exciting turn in the NO discussion.”
He pointed out the ingredient’s sustained effect. “We’re still measuring a 230% increase after three hours. So if you put it in a pre-workout supplement for people looking for that sustained workout or sustained performance-whether it’s biking, running, a triathlon-it’s still in effect.” He said customers are also combining S7 with some of the company’s other ingredients, such as its branded Coffeeberry coffee fruit ingredient.
S7 meets current trends in the sports supplement market. “People in the workout niche have decided they’re going organic and plant-based to achieve the same results, and we have what they’re looking for,” he said.
As for further research, Wheeler said: “We’re going to move on to the second phase and actually look at different timepoints and look at actual blood flow and vasodilation….We’re able to target the kind of people who would be using this product...and study athletes and see what it does to improve their workout times, their blood flow, their oxygen levels.”
Nitrosigine by Nutrition 21
Nutrition 21 (Purchase, NY) shared new study data showing that its nitric oxide–boosting ingredient, Nitrosigine, improved cognitive function. The patented ingredient is a bonded arginine silicate ingredient that has been shown to begin working in as little as 15 minutes, with effects lasting up to six hours. The ingredient is supported by 19 studies on efficacy and safety. It is GRAS affirmed and has an FDA new dietary ingredient (NDI) notification. The firm says an in vitro study showed that Nitrosigine outperformed other ingredients at increasing nitric oxide production, including arginine AKG, agmatine sulfate, citrulline malate, L-arginine, and L-citrulline.
The company recently shared results from a 48-subject study involving a Trail Making Test looking at the effects of 1500 mg/day of Nitrosigine on cognition, focus, and mental clarity, following exercise. The recent study found that when subjects took the Trail Making Test A, their time decreased by 2.8 seconds compared to a placebo group, whose time increased by 19.8 seconds (a 56% difference between groups). The study, still unpublished, was presented at the International Society of Sports Nutrition annual conference this past June.
“After subjects run to exhaustion, they’re mentally fatigued and their Trail Making test scores get worse,” said Sarah Sylla, scientific affairs associate, Nutrition 21, at SupplySide West. “But if you’re taking Nitrosigine, your score improves, so we’re preventing the decline in cognitive function that occurs when you’re physically and mentally tired.”
She added, “We think that because Nitrosigine is boosting blood flow, it’s boosting blood flow to your brain, so you’re able to deliver more nutrients to the brain and that helps cognition.” She noted that Nitrosigine works by lowering levels of arginase, an enzyme that can inhibit arginine. And it can increase energy without raising heart rate or blood pressure, unlike other stimulant ingredients.
“That’s pretty important because you have these very conscious consumers who are now looking at what they’re putting in their body,” added Mallory Junggren, marketing director, Nutrition 21. “So if you can offer a product that isn’t going to be dangerous, is not going to cause any types of spikes in blood pressure or heart rate, and you’re not going to feel jittery, I feel like consumers today are savvy enough to understand that that’s more beneficial for them, that they can get the benefit without any kind of negativity associated with it.”
As more consumers learn about the benefits of nitric oxide boosters, demand for these products will continue. There is lots of promise for suppliers working in the nitric oxide space, especially around sports nutrition.
“Sports nutrition is still a rising category, and people are looking for more natural products,” said Julie Imperato, marketing manager for Nexira (Rouen, France). Her company’s nitric oxide–boosting ingredient is called ViNitrox and comprises a blend of apple and grape polyphenols. The ingredient has been shown to increase NO production by 24% and to increase vasodilation by 50%. The company’s latest study on ViNitrox was conducted in 50 athletes and showed that 500 mg/day of the ingredient improved physical performance and that it increased physical training time by 10% and delayed “fatigue barrier” by 13%.
Glanbia’s Flynn pointed out that nitric oxide claims were used on 4% of global sports nutrition product launches in 2017, based on data from market researcher Innova Market Insights. She also noted that sports brands with leading nitric oxide products are still seeing those products performing well.
Recently, Nutrition 21 conducted a consumer survey looking at how awareness is growing for Nitrosigine, based on data from leading fitness consumer magazines following the company’s consumer marketing campaigns and continued efforts to educate the market. In the survey, Nitrosigine received an 85% brand awareness rating.
“There has been a huge uptick in pick-up of Nitrosigine,” said Nutrition 21's Junggren. “I think consumers are becoming very conscious of nitric oxide–boosting ingredients, and it’s not just for pump anymore. It’s focusing on products that help you focus more-not just for athletes and people who are in professional sports, but gamers, too. They’re looking for products that will help them focus and stay as sharp as they can possibly be.”
Of the market, she said, “It’s growing. I wouldn’t say it’s growing at a rampant pace, but it’s definitely growing. I’ve seen more and more products come out that are NO boosters. So I do think there's been an uptick.”