Vesisorb, developed by Swiss firm Vesifact, uses nanotechnology to increase peak absorption rates of CoQ10 – both from supplements and foods.
According to SourceOne, which has exclusive global licensing rights for the technology, its major differentiation point is that unlike nanotechnology-based systems that use nanoparticles to deliver nutrients, Vesisorb uses nanosized droplets, which are absorbed “naturally” by the body.
This could potentially allow supplement manufacturers to develop products that deliver through one capsule the same level of CoQ10 into the human bloodstream as is received from seven to ten capsules of softgel products currently on the market, the firm’s president and CEO Jesse Lopez told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
CoQ10 benefits… and challenges
CoQ10 – or coenzyme Q10 – is a powerful antioxidant, which plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy in mitochondria – the 'power plants' of the cell – by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'.
It has been studied for its role in cognitive health, heart health, and anti-ageing (in oral and topical formulations). It has also been shown to benefit those suffering from angina, heart attack and hypertension.
Its use in supplements, particularly in the US, has been boosted by the rise in popularity of statin drugs which deplete the body's natural stores of CoQ10.
However, CoQ10 is not easily absorbed by the body, which has spurred the need for innovation in the sector to improve its bioavailability – or the levels that reach the human bloodstream.
Although nanotechnology has been one route chosen in the drive for bioavailability, the supplements industry still treads carefully in this field, which remains underdeveloped. A major concern has been the lack of understanding of what happens to nanoparticles once they enter the body.
Just this year, ingredients firm BASF exited the global CoQ10 market after only two years. The reason, it said, was that consumers had not well received the boosted bioavailability and high absorption claims derived from its nanotechnology-driven encapsulation process.
SourceOne claims its technology would not raise similar concerns because it works by mimicking the body’s natural digestive function and absorption process.
Vesisorb is described as a natural self assembling association colloid (or nanocolloid) system. It is used to produce a proprietary CoQ10 formulation called CoQsource, which is a lipid-based formulation that naturally self-assembles on contact with an aqueous phase into an association colloid delivery system.
Essentially, this means that the technology takes insoluble, poorly-absorbed lipophilic (fat-loving) ingredients – such as CoQ10 – and solubalizes them. Once they are exposed to the aqueous environment in the stomach, they self-assemble into tiny fluid droplets.
These droplets are said to be very similar to the nanosized fluid droplets – or micelles – that the body normally manages when digesting high-fat foods, in order to make them easier to absorb.
“With our technology, we’ve basically ‘pre-digested’ the CoQ10, almost mirroring the body’s natural digestive process,” Lopez told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
Although this method has been used before in drug delivery and in cosmetics, Lopez said this was the first time this kind of technology – using nano fluid particles – was being applied to the food and supplement sectors.
Implementation and efficacy
Implementing the technology is “very simple”, he said. CoQSource, which is the oil-based patented formula produced by Vesifact is combined into a soft gel, and triggers enhanced absorption when it comes into contact with fluids in the stomach.
The oil can also be converted into a powder using a proprietary technology, which makes the formula suitable for use in food applications such as nutrition bars or powdered drinks.
According to SourceOne, all components and excipients used in CoQsource are considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the US.
Vesifact and SourceOne say that the technology achieved peak absorption results of 16.97 percent in a clinical study. This compares to studies involving other CoQ10 ingredients – in powder, oil dispersion and lipid solution delivery systems – which have shown absorption rates of 2.15 percent, 3.34 percent, and 5.44 percent.
According to Lopez, this means that supplement manufacturers can make their CoQ10 products around seven to ten times more potent than other soft gels currently on the market.
The technology would result in about 50 percent higher costs for the manufacturer, but ultimately delivers a higher return on investment, he explained.
DSM, which is a supplier of CoQ10 ingredients, told NutraIngredients-USA.com that CoQ10 is generally used in levels of between 30-100mg per serving. There is no RDA for the ingredient, but there is safety data showing that CoQ10 is safe up to around 1,200mg, it said.
Rushing to market
Although SourceOne first introduced the technology to industry last year following its alliance with Vesifact, it is only in the last few months that it has started to take off in the US.
It has attracted “overwhelming interest” from industry, including the leading players in the supplements category, said Lopez.
Douglas Laboratories, a member of the Atrium Innovations group and a leader in the healthcare distribution channel, recently launched a product using the Vesisrob technology. Its Caplique product is a two-piece liquid-filled hard shell capsule.
GNC, a major supplements firm in the retail distribution sector, will also shortly be launching a soft gel using the technology. Lopez said that launches are also being prepared by other leaders in all key distribution channels, including multi-level marketing, catalogue, independent health food, and food, drug and mass merchandisers.
According to SourceOne, Vesisorb can also be sued to improve the absorption of other natural lipophilic bio-actives such as vitamin D, resveratrol, citrus flavonoids, tocotrienols and gamma-tocopherols.