Botanical Demonstrates a 4% Increase in Aerobic Performance

Gencor shared results of a human clinical trial exploring how the novel Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract, branded ActivAMP, improves aerobic athletic performance. The study also explored its proposed mechanism of action, namely the activation of AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). Gencor explained that the activation of AMPK, which also occurs during exercise, helps promote energy availability for muscular contraction.

In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover design trial, healthy young men consuming 450mg/day of ActivAMP for four weeks completed a 20-kilometer time performance on a cycle ergometer approximately 4% faster than the placebo. Muscle biopsies revealed a significantly greater oxygen flux in muscle tissue at rest compared to the placebo, which Gencor says suggests improved mitochondrial function that may be explained by the fact that only the ActivAMP treatment condition saw a significant increase in phosphorylation (or activation) of AMPK after exercise.  

“The AMPK activation, also known as the ‘master metabolic regulator,’ is a significant finding in this study,” said R.V. Venkatesh, Co-founder and Managing Director at Gencor. “This increase in phosphorylation elaborates on previous research that shows improvements in metabolic health and exercise performance. This is also the first study conducted in the nutraceutical industry to demonstrate the activation of AMPK in a human trial through muscle biopsy. We are thrilled with the study results and will continue investigating how this botanical can further support sports and active nutrition.”

Gencor and its partner BTC provide ActivAMP, which also also shown great support for weight management in male and female participants.

Herb Shows Promise for Relief of Menstrual Symptoms

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrates the efficacy of Tokiwa Phytochemical’s Venetron in supporting women’s health, specifically related to complaints associated with menstruation. This ingredient, standardized rafuma leaves extract containing no less than 2% hyperoside and no less than 2% isoquercitrin, has been shown in several placebo-controlled human clinical trials to support a positive outlook, alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, and reduce premenstrual and menstrual complaints, according to a press release from Maypro. In the latest study, published in Japanese Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 42 healthy Japanese women were randomly assigned to receive either Venetron (50 mg) or a placebo daily for one menstrual cycle. Areas of improvement for the Venetron group included autonomic reactions, negative effects, concentration, and behavioral changes before menstruation, as well as pain, concentration, and control during menstruation, as well as significant improvement in the initiation of sleep and maintenance of sleep. Venetron has attained self-affirmed GRAS. It also is available as water-soluble Venetron-W, which the company says makes this low-dose ingredient an attractive candidate for manufacturers looking to develop products in a wide variety of formats such as tablets, capsules, gels, gummies, chocolates and beverages. 

Help for Histamine Intolerance

Bioiberica shared the results of its latest observational study supporting the efficacy of its diamine oxidase enzyme ingredient DAOgest as a premium solution for histamine intolerance. In the study, 82 individuals with histamine intolerance, tooka supplement containing Histamine Digest (4.2 mg DAOgest) plus vitamin C and catalase daily before the main meal of the day. The result, according to a press release: "Remarkable improvements from the baseline assessment were observed across all effect subcategories as early as the first week of supplementation – more than 90% in gastrointestinal and skin effects, more than 80% in nervous and respiratory and up to 38% in circulatory. These improvements were maintained throughout the study period."

“Histamine intolerance continues to be a prevalent yet largely unaddressed digestive health issue, and we’re committed to advancing research in the field for this very reason," said Andrea Terradillos, R&D Project Manager at Bioiberica, in the release. "The decision to conduct an observational study was driven by the complex nature of identifying individuals with the condition and the scarcity of robust studies examining the real-world effects of histamine intolerance solutions...We concluded that DAOgest supplementation at a low dose of 4.2 mg/serving daily helps to reduce the effects of histamine intolerance in just one week. Our advice for formulators in the space is to pair DAOgest with vitamin C as it boosts the histamine degrading capacity of DAO and consequent histamine breakdown. In a separate investigation, we’ve provided evidence that this combination exhibits higher enzymatic activity compared to other commercially available DAO products.”

Potential of Vitamin K2 MK-7 for Heart Health

A peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) revealed the potentially positive effects of vitamin K2 MK-7 and vitamin D intake on coronary artery calcification (CAC) progression specifically. The Aortic Valve Decalcification Trial (AVADEC) is a clinical trial investigating the impact of daily vitamin K2 and D supplementation on CAC progression, which is strongly associated with a higher risk of heart disease and negative cardiovascular events, according to a press release from Balchem. Balchem’s K2VITAL DELTA ingredient provides typically 99.7% all-trans vitamin K2 MK-7 – identical to the K2 molecule found in nature and fully bioactive, the company added.

The company reported: No significant effect was observed on the CAC score in the total group. However, the peer-reviewed research in JACC did find that two years all-trans vitamin K2 MK-7 (720 µg/d K2VITAL DELTA vitamin K2 MK-7) and vitamin D (25 µg/d) intervention in a subgroup analysis of participants at high-risk of CAC (CAC score ≥ 400 AU) with no prior ischemic heart disease (heart weakening) significantly slowed down the progression of the CAC score. Statin users also displayed a significant slowdown in the progression of the CAC score following vitamin K2 and D intervention. A further noteworthy observation was that the number of adverse “events” in patients – that is acute myocardial infarction, coronary revascularisation and all-cause death – was lower in the group receiving vitamin K2 MK-7 and D supplementation compared to placebo.

“Scientific observations reveal that vitamin K2 and D supplementation play an important role in heart health, but there is limited research that delves deeper into the mechanism of action behind this benefit," said Principal investigator of the study, Professor Axel Diederichsen, Odense University Hospital in Denmark, comments on the findings. "Our research set out to fill this gap in knowledge, with discoveries from the subgroup analyses offering promising insights into the role of both vitamins in calcification in specific populations.”

Trygve Bergeland, Director Nutrition Science, Kappa Bioscience (now a Balchem company), added: “As an industry leader in vitamin K2 MK-7 scientific excellence, we remain at the forefront of cutting-edge research in the field, and we are excited to have uncovered findings that are important for the future of our understanding of the heart health space. These latest discoveries in CAC progression and arterial stiffness signify a step forward for heart health solutions and will most certainly open up new development opportunities. It’s particularly exciting that our K2VITAL DELTA vitamin K2 MK-7 is projected to be at the heart of innovation.”

Enhancing Immune Response to COVID-19 Vaccination

Scientists at the German Rheumatism Research Centre (DRFZ) in Berlin have shown the pivotal role of commensal bacteria found in saliva in regulating immune responses triggered by COVID-19 vaccination. The findings, published recently in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, highlight the critical interplay between oral microbiota and immune responses, particularly concerning vaccinations, according to a press release from Blis Technologies Limited. As explained in the release: Following COVID-19 vaccination, the researchers observed a simultaneous increase in the abundance of S. salivarius in the saliva of study participants. Antibodies generated in response to the vaccine were found to bind to various commensal bacteria, including S. salivarius, due to their structural similarities with the virus. Further experiments injecting this bacterial protein into mice resulted in the production of neutralizing antibodies against the virus. This commensal cross-reactive antibody response enhanced viral clearance in mice, emphasizing the impact of oral microbiota on immune responses to the virus.

"This research helps to shed light on how the composition of the oral microbiota may potentially regulate susceptibility to infection or severity of disease," said Dr. Andrey Kruglov, one of the senior authors of the study, in Bionity. Blis noted that while S. salivarius is naturally commensal to the oral cavity, only 2-5% of the population have it in levels high enough to be effective. It is commercially available as the probiotic supplement BLIS K12, which is developed and manufactured by Blis Technologies.

Synbiotics Support Skin Health

Probiotical shared the news of a published clinical study linking probiotics and prebiotics (synbiotic) with improvements in atopic dermatitis and eczema (AD/eczema). While there is growing evidence supporting the connection between the skin and microbiomes, the role of the skin–gut axis in atopic dermatitis  remains a subject of debate, the company said, adding that this is limiting the interventional use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. This real-life, multicenter, retrospective observational study used a finished product with three unique Probiotical bacteria strains: Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BS01, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum LP14, and Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus LR05. The synbiotic product also contained FOS (prebiotic) and riboflavin. It was administered orally to 144 patients with mild atopic dermatitis, without a placebo control group. 

The finding: Both itching (pruritus) and AD-related lesions (redness known as erythema, edema/papules, excoriation which is excessive picking or scratching) exhibited significant clinical and statistical improvement (p < 0.001) after 12 weeks of exclusive probiotic and prebiotic use. The researchers noted, “These preliminary results suggest a potential link between the skin–gut microbiome and support the rationale for using specific probiotics and prebiotics in mild AD, even for maintenance, to reduce flares. This may be mediated in part by improvement in barrier function in the gut.”

Saffron Extract Improves Resilience to Occasional Stress 

A new in vitro study highlights the ability of the branded ingredient affron, a standardized extract of saffron developed by Pharmactive Biotech Products to enhance resilience to occasional stress. Published November 2023 in the journal Nutrients, the research focuses on affron’s role in regulating the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA axis) and shows significant improvements following repeated oral administration of the extract in stress model animal subjects.

Among the findings, according to a press release: affron treated rats showed marked decreases in hormones that play a pivotal role in triggering the release of other stress-related hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland, which in turn signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol (corticotropin in rodents). Serum concentration of these secondary hormones increased at first and then diminished by the third week, and treated rats experienced a significant reduction in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression, reflecting a properly functioning negative feedback mechanism for orchestrating daily rhythms, managing stress responses, and facilitating adaptation to changing conditions. This effect avoids the known glucocorticoid receptor resistance that occurs due to the continuous release of glucocorticoids. The ability to mitigate this resistance through reduced GR expression demonstrates the body’s effectiveness in managing stress. 

“Despite the growing body of research on saffron’s anti-stress properties, which includes six published studies of our proprietary, highly concentrated saffron extract, few studies have specifically investigated its role in normalizing the regulation of the HPA axis, a crucial system for stress modulation in the body,” said Carlos Rodríguez, Communication Manager for Pharmactive, in the release. “Through ongoing research, we are unearthing more about saffron’s benefits on cognitive well-being, and its mechanisms of action. We are realizing these extend beyond influencing serotonin expression but actually demonstrates a potential to boost resilience to occasional stress and prevent its detrimental impact on overall mental and physical health.”  

Synergistic Blend Boosts Performance in Athletes Within One Hour 

PLT Health Solutions, Inc. shared findings from a double-blind, crossover study on Zynamite PX (a synergistic combination of a Mangifera indica extract and Sophora japonica extract standardized to 50% quercetin), published in Nutrients. Researchers examined the effects of a single dose of Zynamite PX on top Greek national basketball players during a basketball exercise stimulation test (BEST). According to a press release, participants in the supplement group were faster, showing a statistically significant improvement in mean circuit lap time compared to those in the placebo group. They also showed a significant reduction in their subjective rating of perceived exertion, which is used to assess muscular effort and fatigue. 

“This is the second study that has shown significant performance improvements by athletes just one hour after supplementing with Zynamite PX – the previous study relating to improved power," said Devin Stagg, Chief Operating Officer at PLT Health Solutions. "The new study adds to knowledge on Zynamite PX as fast-acting support for enhanced exercise performance. This fast-acting performance improvement opens up a new range of commercial opportunities for sports nutrition consumer products companies."

The ingredient is manufactured by Nektium Pharma, S.L. and marketed exclusively by PLT in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. 

Multi Carotenoids May Reduce Obesity Risk 

Limited research explores the connection between dietary multi-carotenoids and obesity, so a team of Chinese researchers from Qingdao Central Hospital and Qingdao University, China, conducted an assessment to evaluate the association between the risk of adult obesity and the intake of total mixed carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and lutein+zeaxanthin. The cross-sectional study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, involved 25,868 adults aged 20 and above. Information about carotenoid intake was collected through two 24-hour nutritional recall interviews, and researchers focused on daily total carotenoid intake, comprising the sum of five carotenoids per day.

The finding: Dietary intakes of total multi carotenoids and lutein+zeaxanthin at 2400 ug/1000 kcal/d and 80 ug/1000 kcal/d, respectively, have a significant protective impact against obesity, according to a press release on the findings from PhytoGaia. The company reported: A noteworthy reduction in the risk of obesity was observed with the consumption of 50 ug/1000 kcal/d of dietary beta-carotene and 17 ug/1000 kcal/d of beta-cryptoxanthin. Additionally, exceeding the threshold of 10 ug/1000 kcal/d for alpha-carotene intake demonstrated a decrease in the risk of obesity. These findings indicated that consumption of a total multi carotenoids complex such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein+zeaxanthin were inversely associated with the risk of obesity.

"What is most interesting about this new large cross-sectional study is that it sheds light on the significant protective impact of multi carotenoids against obesity,” said Dr. Ariati Aris, Scientific Affairs Specialist at PhytoGaia. "The findings highlight the inverse association between total multi carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein+zeaxanthin, and the risk of obesity. These results are crucial in understanding the potential role of dietary interventions in managing obesity and its associated health risks. As we navigate the complexities of modern lifestyles, incorporating carotenoid-rich foods may prove to be a valuable strategy in promoting metabolic health."

Bryan See, Vice President of PhytoGaia, added, “Formulators and Brands now have an unprecedented opportunity to create a ‘Multi Carotenoids diet or supplement’ enriched with plant derived carotenoids. In nature (fruits and vegetables), carotene does not exist as a single entity. It always exists as carotenoid complex with various isomers of carotene – alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, etc. As such, mimicking nature is the best way for carotenoid supplementation. For instance, by incorporating nature's powerful elements like tomatoes' lycopene, marigold extract's lutein/zeaxanthin, and PhytoGaia's CaroGaia (rich in alpha-carotene and beta-carotene), it offers a unique blend that not only supports overall health but also addresses the critical issue related to obesity. This innovative and nature-intended combination provides a versatile foundation for crafting multivitamins, multi-carotenoids, or weight management formulas, presenting an enticing prospect for those aiming to create products that prioritize holistic well-being and nutrition, and importantly product differentiation."

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