Delivery Systems Matter, Too
The non-protein supplement shopper also has a very different preference when it comes to delivery. Euromonitor noted in a recent report that even though energy concerns have always had their place in the sports nutrition market, many of the delivery systems traditionally associated with these supplements (think bulk powder formats) are unappealing to casual users. Drinks and foods, particularly, are making headway with this segment because they’re grab-and-go and already fit within consumers’ lifestyles.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious, but are no longer interested in taking yet another pill,” says Ganeden’s Bush. “They want the health benefits of probiotics while consuming foods and beverages they already enjoy and without having to adjust their daily routine.”
Going forward, EXOS’s Carlson-Phillips predicts that the one-size-fits-few approach of yesterday’s sports nutrition market will only continue to shrink, making room for even more customizable, personalized options in the supplement aisle.
“Consumers are shifting focus to improved recovery, less pain, and optimized energy, all of which relate to improved performance,” she says. “The next trend will be around understanding your own physiology through easy accessible diagnostics and then the personalized programming and products that come from that knowledge.”
Sidebar: Beets and Beyond
New research from the American Physiological Society8 found that regular consumption of beet juice could yield heart-healthy effects during exercise and ultimately lead to increased endurance.
According to the researchers, the key lies in beet juice’s nitrate content, which is converted naturally in the body to produce nitric oxide and is credited with the ability to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow, enhancing oxygen delivery and reducing the amount of work done by the heart during exercise. Ultimately, this translated to subjects being able to perform their workout for a longer period of time before fatigue set in.
“Beet juice increases athletic performance, improves stamina and strength, and also allows the body to recuperate better from physical activity by increasing the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the muscles, heart, and brain,” says Matt Herzog, president of beet-beverage brand Beet Performer (Carmel, IN). “Beet juice also lowers blood pressure, purifies the blood, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces inflammation in the body.”
The good news is that the benefits of beets can be harnessed either in a juice or in a powdered supplement ingredient, depending on the demands of a particular formulation.
Beet Performer, a finished product, is 100% juice and appeals to consumers who want the convenience of pure juice but don’t have the time to juice themselves. Sabinsa Corp. (East Windsor, NJ) has harnessed the power of beetroot in its Sabeet beetroot extract. It is completely water soluble and, as such, makes sense in liquid products like energy and pre-workout shots. It is also available in a grade suitable for tablet formulation.
One supplier claims to have a nitric oxide–boosting ingredient that beats beets. PLT Health Solutions (Morristown, NJ) says that a nitrate-rich red-spinach extract (Amaranthus dubius), branded Oxystorm, provides “more than five times the amount of nitrate as beetroot powder and more than 50 times [that] of beet juice.”
The company is now supplying the ingredient, standardized to a minimum 9% nitrate content, in partnership with DolCas Biotech LLC (Chester, NJ). Offered in powder form, the ingredient is 100% water soluble and pH neutral, meaning it works in many types of formulas, including bars, powders, chewables, functional food, beverages, and supplements. Its production process is patent pending, and the company says that this process “delivers the highest nitrate content ingredient from the leaves of red spinach-9000 mg/100 g.”
“We have seen some interesting research demonstrating the use of nitrate in the form of beet juice or beetroot powder in positively impacting vascular and muscle function via nitric oxide production during workouts or athletic competition,” said Sid Hulse, director of new product development, PLT Health Solutions, in a press release. “What we see with beetroot powder and beet juice is that they have relatively low levels of nitrate in a typical serving and that these levels can vary widely based on where and how the plants were harvested and processed.” Also, Hulse added, Oxystorm is sugar free, whereas many beet-based products contain relatively high amounts of sugar.
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