Energy & Recovery Are Top Sports Nutrition Goals

There are wide variations in the needs of sports nutrition consumers, according to research from Prinova. The company surveyed 1,277 European consumers of sports nutrition products; all exercise at least twice a week, but their preferred activities, goals, needs and purchasing habits varied significantly by activity level.


Survey participants were given a list of 15 possible goals and asked to pick the five that were most important to them when using sports nutrition products. The three most common goals overall: energy (71%), post-exercise recovery (51%), and muscle growth (48%).

Differences emerged based on activity level. Consumers who exercised twice a week were:

  •  Almost twice as likely to prioritize immune health as those who exercised daily (20% vs. 11%);
  • Significantly more likely to target weight management (24% vs. 16%);
  • More focused on digestive health (11% vs. 7%),
  • More likely to list taste and texture as a purchase influencer (33% vs. 22%).

“Sports nutrition has emerged from its niche of serious athletes, resulting in a more mainstream consumer base," said Tony Gay, Technical Sales Director, Nutrition, Prinova Europe, which offers several branded ingredients for active nutrition, including enduracarb, Aquamin, and EAAlpha. "This research suggests that people who exercise less regularly tend to have different goals from their more ‘hardcore’ counterparts and are more likely to have needs that overlap with other categories, such as immune health and weight management. The key takeaway is that there is no ‘typical’ sports nutrition consumer, and as the market becomes more fragmented, there will be growing demand for innovative bespoke and hybrid products targeting more than one goal.”

Vitamin E Cut Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage 

Low dosages of dietary vitamin E supplementation may significantly reduce the oxidative stress and muscle damage triggered by exercise, according to new research. The meta-analysis looked at 17 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) that were chosen among 44 studies with comparable markers, measurement frequencies, and valid exercise protocols. Biomarkers such as creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), malondialdehydes (MDA), total antioxidant status (TAS) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were assessed. The findings:

  • Vitamin E supplementation had a significant impact on muscle damage immediately after exercise.
  • Low dosages (500 IU daily) exhibited a protective impact against muscle damage.
  • High doses (>500 IU daily) had no such effect.
  • Vitamin E supplementation had a positive effect on athletes' CK concentrations (and no positive impact on non-athlete participants).
  • Vitamin E supplementation increased the antioxidant capacity before exercise and inhibited free radical production during exercise.

"Vitamin E is made up of two broad members – tocopherols and tocotrienols,” said Dr. Ariati Aris, Scientific Affairs Specialist at PhytoGaia. "Tocotrienols have also been shown to improve endurance capacity as indicated by a longer duration of swimming and reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress. As such, vitamin E supplementation has demonstrated potential in mitigating exercise-induced muscle damage. By scavenging free radicals and reducing lipid peroxidation, full spectrum vitamin E (d-mixed tocopherols + d-mixed tocotrienols) may help minimize oxidative damage to muscle tissues. This effect is particularly relevant for endurance athletes who engage in prolonged, strenuous and repetitive exercise, as they are more prone to muscle damage caused by oxidative stress. Currently, we are collaborating with researchers from the University of Malaya in a human clinical trial to evaluate the potential role of tocotrienols in reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and improving sport endurance."

Phospholipids help improve response stress

Supplementing the diet with broad-spectrum phospholipids found naturally in milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) reduces stress. That's according to research led by experts from Fonterra, the University of Auckland, and the University of Otago published in the Journal of Functional Foods

In the study, adults aged 25-60 received either Nutiani Phospholipids (Fonterra's MFGM rich powder) or a maltodextrin placebo. They consumed one serving a day for 12 weeks mixed into drinks (smoothies, milk, or water) or sprinkled over breakfast cereal. 

At week six and at the end of the 12 weeks, the group given 300mg of broad-spectrum phospholipids reported significantly lower stress scores than the placebo group. Researchers found a statistically significant 45% reduction in mean stress scores, compared to 21% in the placebo group.

Nutiani Phospholipids are broad-spectrum phospholipids, containing a range of major phospholipids and sphingolipids (including Phosphatidylserine, Phosphatidylcholine, Phosphatidylethanolamine, Phosphatidylinositol, and Sphingomyelin) that are present in a similar proporations to that of the human brain. 

“These findings are consistent with previous work demonstrating that supplementation with broad-spectrum phospholipids improve the response to a stressful situation," said Dr. Maher Fuad, (MBChB, MPH,PhD,PGDip Clinical Research), Research Clinician/ Health and Nutrition Science Team, Fonterra. Dr. Fuad noted that there was also a strong suggestion that supplementation of broad-spectrum phospholipids can reduce anxiety from day one, though further testing is required. 

Beta-glucan ingredient offers immune support

In a new published pilot study, healthy participants who had at least four common colds over the preceding 12 months received 30 mg of Immudyne Nutritionals PureMune yeast-derived beta-glucan ingredient for daily 90 days. Supplementing with PureMune was shown to support the production of immune cells, significantly increasing the levels of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) and yielding a higher IFN-γ/interleukin-4 (IL-4) ratio. The company explained that this contributed to reduced incidence and duration of symptomatic episodes compared to the same winter period the prior year. The authors reported that these results suggest that daily intake of PureMune "augments acquired immunity, especially Th1-related immune functions in healthy subjects."

Immudyne Nutritional said conventional beta-glucan ingredients need between six to 12 days to produce a clinically relevant response in only one immune pathway—plus a dose of 250 mg or more a day is needed to yield any effect. Onset of action for PureMune (which is certified organic, Halal and Kosher) is within three hours, the company said, adding that the ingredient supports three components of immunity: dectin-1 receptors, toll-like receptors (TLRs) and complement receptor 3 (CR3).

“Our research has shown best-in-class PureMune to be a very fast-acting and high-performing beta-glucan ingredient for immune support," said Mark McLaughlin, CEO,  Immudyne Nutritional. “PureMune’s low dosage offers many benefits when developing immune health products as companies can now blend in other science-based immune ingredients—such as probiotics, vitamin C or elderberry—to create optimal immune formulations using different delivery systems.”

PureMune comes at a lower cost of dose, as only 30 mg a day is needed to support immunity, the company added, and it can be formulated as a stand-alone ingredient or featured in a variety of combination formulas including including gummies and rapid-dissolve strips—in addition to baked goods, beverages and soups, energy bars and cereals, frozen treats, milk products, and more. It is available through select distributors, including AIDP. 

Study looks at absorption of supplemental iron 

Research in the International Journal of Scientific Study compared endosomal SunActive Fe from Taiyo with other common and commercially available iron ingredients.

The study was performed in two cell models: Caco-2 and Raji-B-cells. Caco-2 cells can absorb iron viadivalent metal ion transporter 1 (DMT-1), and they can perform endocytosis, the company shared. In the Caco-2 cells, SunActive Iron was already better absorbed (27%) than two other iron pyrophosphate sources (13% and 16% respectively). The second part of the study used a two-cell culture model combining Caco-2 cells with Raji-B cells, which the company said are human B lymphocytes that specifically perform endocytosis and are therefore able to absorb SunActive Fe particles directly.

The finding: SunActive Fe was two to four times better absorbed compared to other iron pyrophosphate products. Taiyo said the model replicating just absorption via M cells found that SunActive Fe yielded 40% iron transport compared with the competitors’ 10.26% and 0.48%. “This nearly four-fold enhanced absorption via M cells compared to the nearest competitor shows the special properties that SunActive Fe possesses due to its patented technology,” said Derek Timm, Ph.D., RDN, Taiyo’s functional ingredient technology expert.

The company noted that there was a  large difference in the particle sizes of the three iron pyrophosphate sources, which seems to be the reason for the higher bioavailability of SunActive Fe versus other iron sources. 

Read more research findings here