Demand for zeaxanthin moves to drinks market

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement, Eye health, Macular degeneration, Nutrition, Zeaxanthin

Chrysantis said it is developing its eye-health ingredient zeaxanthin for use in food and beverages as the company announced it is boosting its sales force to meet growing demand in the supplement sector.

The US-based company said it has received several requests for zeaxanthin, mostly to be used in beverages, as well as food, so it is now developing a cold water soluble formulation for this purpose.

It is also targeting companies that produce capsules and tablets following the launch of its beadlet form three months ago. And it has just signed a distribution agreement with XSTO Solutions to market Chrysantis’ EZEyes brand of zeaxanthin to its growing list of customers in the dietary supplement industry.

A spokesman for Chrysantis, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ball Horticultural Company, based in West Chicago, said: “We secured the agreement to increase our sales force as the number of supplements in the market that now contain zeaxanthin has doubled this year.

“Also, this year has seen the publication of four key scientific articles that expanded the knowledge we had on why zeaxanthin is a vital component of the macular pigment.

“The US is the largest market for dietary supplements in general and zeaxanthin in particular.”

As an indication of how the market is developing, he added that two of the largest producers of DHA, Martek and Nordic Naturals, recently launched eye health supplements that combine DHA and zeaxanthin.

The raw materials market for zeaxanthin is only believed to be worth about $2-3m in the US, almost all of which is used by dietary supplements manufacturers, but it is growing as awareness spreads.

Dan Murray, vice-President of business development at XSTO, which focuses on bringing new science-supported nutritional ingredients to the dietary supplement and functional food market, said: “We look forward to aggressively expanding the use of EZEyes zeaxanthin in this critical area of nutrition.”

GRAS status

Chrysantis develops plant-based products for dietary supplement manufacturers and the functional foods industry which enhance human health.

EZEyes zeaxanthin obtained GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status last year for approval in the US for dosage up to 2mg per day.

The product is made from marigolds and the company boasts that it is the only natural free zeaxanthin on the market. However, other zeaxanthin sources include goji berries, red peppers as well as synthetic versions such as meso-zeathanthin which is derived by altering the molecular structure of lutein.

Eye health

Zeaxanthin has been overshadowed by its more high profile cousin, lutein, but is gaining increasing attention as studies demonstrate its effectiveness in benefiting eye health.

A large body of science supports the role of lutein and zeaxanthin against the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world, according to AMD Alliance International.

In June the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (DPNA) found that supplements that contained zeaxanthin at levels up to 20mg would exceed average intakes by up to 100 times and therefore said a safe limit of 20mg could not be established.

DPNA's conclusion came despite it acknowledging animal toxicity studies showed no effects other than "discolouration of the faeces and adipose tissue".

There was no indication for genotoxicity, but DPNA noted no studies on chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity had been performed. A study involving healthy human volunteers dosing on 10-30mg of zeaxanthin per day for 4-6 months also showed no adverse effects.

However, in response to the DPNA conclusion, Chrysantis managing director Manuel Pavon told “The DSM application was unusual in that it sought such a high dose but industry shouldn’t be damaged by the fact EFSA rejected it.”

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