Special edition: Antioxidants

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Special edition: Antioxidants

Related tags: Nutrition

They have been on product labels for over a decade, but do consumers understand what they are and how they function? In this special edition, we review recent market data, science, and academic and industry opinion on antioxidants, and get a glimpse at the next big ingredient in the segment.

First up, we look at how US retail sales of products making antioxidant claims grew a healthy 8.6% to $64.8bn in 2011, but marketers are still struggling to articulate their benefits to consumers.

Please click here to read: Antioxidant claims continue to grow – but have consumers 'checked out' of the ORAC debate?

A consumer panel at the IFT Wellness 12 event added weight to such claims. Four baby boomers and four Millennials were asked various health eating questions. Antioxidants  - which have been featuring on product packaging for over a decade - drew a blank. They had heard of them, but that’s as far as it went

Please click here to read: What do antioxidants do? Absolutely no idea, says IFT consumer panel​ .

Dr Carl Keen, professor of nutrition & internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, recently said that the term ‘antioxidant’ should be banished from food labels and replaced with more specific claims about the health benefits of the phytonutrients and other ingredients in question.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA at the IFT Wellness 2012 conference in Chicago Dr Keen said: “The word antioxidant should probably be banished from food labels – it‘s too generic, it’s so non-specific.”

Please click here to read: Professor: Term 'antioxidant' should be banished from food labels​.

Coming out in defense of antioxidants, California-based Ethical Naturals says the debate about the usefulness or otherwise of ORAC values “had an impact from early on in our attempts to market and sell the product due to the vigorous debate within the scientific community”.

Please click here to read: Ethical Naturals: ORAC is still useful, but it's open to abuse​.

Despite such consumer-understanding debates, the potential benefits of antioxidants continue to receive scientific interest. A recent study by Scottish and Northern Irish researchers found that eight weeks of supplementation with watercress may reduce markers of oxidative stress and damage after exhaustive exercise.

Please click here to read: Antioxidant-rich watercress shows sports nutrition potential​.

A new antioxidant receiving a lot of attention is L-Ergothioneine. A study published recently in Preventive Medicine​ suggested that six weeks of supplementation with the branded ErgoFlex supplement, produced by Oxis International, may improve the range of motion in joints by up to 70%.

Please click here to read: Ergothioneine may reduce pain and boost joint motion: Study​.

Oxis International is on a mission to turn L-Ergothioneine – an antioxidant it claims has “unparalleled​” benefits – into a household name. The company said that recently that energy drinks and foods, eye health supplements and skin creams are just some of the products likely to emerge from its R&D platform.

Please click here to read: Biotech firm launches bid to turn L-Ergothioneine into household name as ‘EGT’​.

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