TFX Health places supplement on GNC shelves, boosting demand for Interhealth's UC-II ingredient

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chondroitin sulfate Gnc

TFX Health places supplement on GNC shelves, boosting demand for Interhealth's UC-II ingredient
Interhealth Nutraceuticals has gotten another boost for its UC-II joint health ingredient as a major customer, TFX Health LLC, has placed its supplement on GNC stores shelves nationwide.

Getting on to the shelf was a big step for the company, said Stephen Bullough of TFX Health.  Space on shelves is at a premium, and for a new product GNC wants to see some sort of proof that there is sufficient demand to justify taking shelf space away from some other product.  On the other hand, the store chain is sometimes willing to take products up immediately from trusted brands, Bullough said.

Proof of demand

"It’s a combination of both. There is definitely a brand-by-brand aspect to it.  If you have experience working with GNC and they know who you are and you’ve got a new product that’s innovative they will sometimes move you straight into on-the-shelf distribution,”​ Bullough told NutraIngredients-USA.

“On the flip side of that is one of the best ways to get shelf distribution is to perform well in online sales on  We kind of did both; we have worked with GNC on some projects in the past,”​ he said.

The supplement, TFX Flex, features Interhealth’s UC-II, an undenatured collagen sourced from fresh chicken sternums. The immediate cold processing of the ingredient maintains the protein structure which can be disrupted by heating or other processing steps, according to Interhealth sales manager Jay Martin.

The success of TFX Flex doesn’t come as a surprise, he said.  Products featuring the ingredient have been launched at a fairly rapid pace.

“I would say there are at least 20 brands that contain UC-II in health food, multilevel marketing, mass market and direct channels,”​ he said. “That includes some major brands like NOW Foods, Solgar, Schiif and Vitamin Shoppe.”

Small dosage

Bullough said the ingredient’s rapid acceptance has to do with its benefits.  The main player in the joint health category from an ingredient perspective is the combo of glucosamine and chondroitin.  These suffer from cumbersome dosage requirements, he said, which is one of the reason that TFX Health considered UC-II for its product.  It’s low efficacious dosage—only 40 mg—means one smaller pill per day.

“The low dosage is definitely an advantage.  The typical dosage of glucosamine and chondroitin was 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin.  You’ve typically have to take 3 to 6 pills unless you go to a tablet,”​ Bullough said.

And that low dosage meant the company could incorporate other ingredients into the same serving, to deliver the combined health effect its formulators were after, Bullough said.

“We believe that musculoskeletal system has to be taken as a whole.  You can’t just take something that impacts the joint without considering the bones that form that joint and the muscles that support it.  So we include vitamin D3 for bone heath and arginine alpha-ketoglutarate for muscles,”​ he said.

Proven benefits

But the conveniently low dosage wasn’t the most important reason the company chose UC-II, he said.

“The most important advantage is that studies show the product works better than glucosamine and chondroitin.  There are some people for whom glucosamine is ineffective.  UC-II seems to work for everybody,”​ he said. 

Martin said that while the positive research and good sales numbers continue to pile up for the ingredient, it’s still a small fish in a big pond that is still dominated by glucosamine and chondroitin.  But that can be seen as a good thing, as there is plenty of room to grow.

“It’s a huge market, a huge category. If you looked at volume, we’re probably at less than 2%,”​ he said.

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