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Robby Gardner is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles, specializing in fresh produce and health food ingredients.
Consumers want science-backed ingredients. Companies are answering the call.
In the never-ending quest for weight-management solutions, ingredient suppliers continue to introduce ingredients to market while substantiating those that are longstanding. The last many months have brought about a number of significant discoveries in terms of new research and new products to market. Whether the manufacturer’s interest lies in botanicals or highly innovative extractions, there’s a vast array of ingredients to consider.
Here we share some scientific highlights from around the dietary supplement industry, all relating to ingredients for weight management.
Some ingredients in the weight-management category have been shown to encourage fat loss. Unfortunately, these ingredients also tend to encourage lean body mass loss.
A recent scientific review comparing popular weight-loss ingredients found that chromium picolinate encouraged fat loss alongside the lowest amount of lean body mass.1 It’s great news for Nutrition 21 LLC (Purchase, NY), which funded the study on its Chromax chromium picolinate ingredient against popular weight-loss ingredients. Besides Chromax, the study included green tea (Camellia sinensis), malabar tamarind (Garcinia cambogia), and African mango (Irvingia gabonensis).
“Healthy muscle mass has been more commonly referred to as the ‘currency of aging,’ likely because without it the body will start to break down, negatively impacting movement and balance,” says Mallory Junggren, senior director of marketing at Nutrition 21. “However, the more lean muscle you can retain, the better your chances are of preserving that mobility.”
An essential nutrient for humans, chromium helps insulin function by more effectively transporting glucose into cells. By improving insulin function, muscle cells get the nutrients they need for proper muscle maintenance. It’s a holistic-sounding approach to weight loss, and one that the company is interested in better understanding with future scientific research.
Chromax is available in powder format for use in tablets, capsules, nutrition bars, and pre-mixed beverages.
Okra Pod Powder
Known for its slimy quality in various cooking preparations, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) has a high mucilage content. The mucilage contains fibers that can bind to fat and, in so doing, eliminate fat from the body prior to its absorption. The phenomenon makes okra a unique candidate for weight-management solutions.
Nexira (Rouen Cedex, France) is capitalizing on okra as a fat binder with its new ingredient Okralin, a patented combination of okra pod powder and inulin. According to the company’s latest animal research, Okralin works as a fat binder more effectively than okra itself and more effectively than cactus powder and chitosan, which are both sold commercially for their fat-binding properties. A more recent human study suggests that Okralin promoted weight loss significantly more than a placebo in 12 weeks.2
While Nexira’s Okralin is marketed primarily as a fat binder, okra itself is increasing understood as having other properties that are useful in weight and diabetes management.
A Compound in Shilajit
Having already created a successful market for shilajit as a healthy aging ingredient, Natreon (New Brunswick, NJ) has more plans for shilajit in the future. In March 2019, the company earned a U.S. patent for an isolated compound in shilajit and “prevention and/or treatment of body weight gain.”
Shilajit is a rock exudate used in Ayurveda and sourced from the Himalayas and other mountain regions. Within the substance, Natreon isolated a compound called urolithin B. The compound is at the center of Natreon’s new U.S. patent, and Nutritional Outlook will learn more about it as Natreon moves closer to marketing. For now, Natreon has developed and identified standardization procedures, biomarker compounds, and undisclosed pharmacological studies to support a future market for the ingredient.
Unlike other morning glories, Operculina turpethum is a wandering vine with perceived weight-management potential. Cepham Inc. (Somerset, NJ) started marketing the ingredient under the name OperQthin, making it the latest Ayurveda ingredient to come to the mainstream market.
“Over the years, much commercial and application research has been focused on common Ayurvedic herbs like Garcinia, Coleus, and Gymnema,” says Cepham president Anand Swaroop, PhD. “While very popular in Indian traditional medicine system, morning glory has not been given its due attention. However, with Cepham’s research initiative on less-known herbal remedies, this product is in focus again.”
Right now, supporting science on OperQthin is limited to animal trials that suggest potential anti-diabetic and weight-reduction benefits, but Cepham says a human randomized, controlled trial protocol is in the works for a study that could be completed by late 2020.
Ginger may support weight management via potential mechanisms such as thermogenesis, appetite control, and inhibition of intestinal fat absorption.3 Much of the available research, however, is on common yellow ginger (Zingiber officinale). To distinguish its ginger offering from that of other suppliers, Cepham has unveiled GyngerLean, a formula combining yellow ginger, red ginger (Alpinia galangal), and black ginger (Kaempferia parviflora).
Cepham believes its trio of gingers can have a synergistic effect on weight management. An animal trial on GyngerLean is now complete and, once safety studies clear, Cepham will begin a study on GyngerLean in humans.
White Kidney Bean
A new meta-analysis supports the notion that a proprietary extract of white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) can positively influence body weight and body fat in humans.4 The extract is Phase 2, a product from Ashland (Kearny, NJ).
White kidney bean is known to contain amylase inhibitors which can block or slow the absorption of carbohydrates from meals. But because historical research on white kidney bean extract has yielded mixed reviews, researchers decided to focus solely on Phase 2 studies for this meta-analysis. In review of 10 studies, they determined that Phase 2, when taken with meals containing carbohydrates, was associated with weight loss compared to placebo.
The meta-analysis, funded by Ashland (previously as Pharmachem Laboratories), suggests that manufacturers should not assume a false equivalence of white kidney bean extracts on the market today. Phase 2 is the most studied of those available.
Prebiotics and probiotics are often added to foods and dietary supplements with the hope or expectation that they will foster diverse and beneficial bacteria populations in humans. Concerning weight management, obesity, and related health complications such as leaky gut have been associated with low diversity of bacteria present in the gut. Now, prebiotics and probiotics are evaluated for potential use in obese populations, but researchers are also interested in combining these ingredients to create synbiotics that might be more effective in improving health factors. Such was the inspiration for a recent USDA-funded study on one prebiotic and two probiotics.5
Researchers assigned humans to consume a prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (GOS) and one of two probiotics, separately and combined. After three weeks, fecal analyses showed that synbiotic combinations didn’t improve intestinal function, but each ingredient on its own was associated with improvements in gut permeability. It’s still possible, the researchers say, that a higher dose of GOS, combined with probiotics, may have yielded a significant improvement with synbiotics.
FrieslandCampina (Amersfoort, Netherlands) provided GOS for the study.
Following up on years of research, Fytexia Corp. (New York City) has expanded its weight-management portfolio with a unique peptide fraction derived from brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Dubbed DNF-10, the ingredient reportedly influences satiety hormones when consumed.
DNF-10 was introduced at SupplySide West in Las Vegas last fall, and the ingredient is backed by numerous animal and human studies showing benefits such as reduced caloric intake to weight loss. Fytexia has future plans to better learn about DNF-10’s mechanisms of action and influence on hormones in different populations. Until future studies are performed, the company continues to analyze its existing data for new understandings.
Fytexia also markets a fat-burner derived from citrus (Sinetrol) and a concentrated polyphenol ingredient equivalent to five portions of fruits and vegetables (Oxxynea).