Betaine: Uptake in sports nutrition is ‘fast growing’, says Danisco

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Betaine: Uptake in sports nutrition is ‘fast growing’, says Danisco

Related tags: Nutrition, Danisco

Danisco’s betaine ingredient is generating growing interest in the US for its performance enhancing properties, with the sports nutrition market now accounting for the majority of the ingredient’s sales just over a year after its launch.

Sales for the nutrient, which is derived from the molasses of sugar beets, increased 40 percent between May 2008 and May 2009, prompting the firm’s launch this week of a website that consolidates information on the use of betaine for performance boosting applications.

The company introduced its branded BetaPower onto the US sports nutrition market at the end of 2007 and although uptake and awareness is still limited as the market remains young, Danisco said it expects betaine will become “one of the well recognized ingredients used by the sports nutrition industry”​ over the next few years.

Health benefits

Betaine is a nutrient found in foods such as shellfish, spinach, beets and whole grains. It has been linked to a number of health benefits, particularly heart, liver and kidney health.

In comparison, the sports nutrition market is relatively new, but growing, said Danisco’s business manager for betaine Mika Paulamaki.

“Up until one year (ago), the awareness by the supplements and food industry was mostly limited for the use of betaine for specific health areas (…) We have to bear in mind that the sports performance application was only introduced at the end of 2007 and it always takes time for consumers to find new products and ingredients,”​ Paulamaki told NutraIngredients-USA.com.

The use of betaine to enhance performance is supported by a number of scientific trials, with demonstrated benefits including less fatigue, greater general strength and greater endurance during recovery. For more information on the science behind the performance benefits of the nutrient, click here​.

BetaPower works by donating methyl groups (CH3) that assist in over 100 reactions essential for normal cell function, explains Danisco. The ingredient also protects against the effects of dehydration by accumulating in cells and forming a monolayer of water around essential cell components.

Approval and claims

The ingredient, which is manufactured by Danisco in Finland, is said to be over 99 percent pure, highly soluble and stable in low pH products. In the US, it is self-affirmed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for use in foods and beverages. It does not currently have approval in Europe for use in foods, but Danisco says “we are working on it”.

The food betaine market is composed of three different grades: natural betaine anhydrous, synthetic betaine anhydrous and betaine hydrochloride. Danisco estimates the total market size to be between 300 and 400mt/y, “but fast growing”.

The company produces only natural betaine anhydrous, and claims to be the leading supplier of this grade. In the US, sports performance is said to be the most popular application for betaine anhydrous, accounting for around 70 percent of Danisco’s sales of the ingredient.

Danisco said it discusses the use of health claims on a case by case basis with its customers, but some examples of structure/function claims that may be used in association with the ingredient include:

· A natural nutrient for athletic strength and performance

· Helps maintain strength and power

· Boosts strength

· Enhances power

 

To access Danisco’s new BetaPower website, click here​.

 

For more general information on betaine from Dr Stuart Craig, Danisco’s director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, North America, click here​.

 

 

Market

 

According to statistics pulled from Mintel and Datamonitor product launch databases, betaine remains a relatively elusive ingredient, appearing in only a handful of new products over the past five years.

 

However, this may be partly because these systems tend to focus on particular label claims, and do not always track all individual ingredients in new products. For the same reason, the figures from the two market researchers vary.

 

Mintel’s GNPD tracked 55 new betaine-containing food, drink or supplement products between 2003 and 2008 on the global market. Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics tracked 38 new products in the same categories, during the same period.

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