Spectra, an antioxidant dietary supplement ingredient, is a combination of vegetable and fruit powders and extracts all chosen for their specific antioxidant activity, said Brad Evers, director of product development for FutureCeuticals. The product design was based on a relatively new ORAC assay that was developed by bioanalytical research and testing firm Brunswick Labs. Now branded as ORAC 5.0, the test consists of individual assays that evaluate the antioxidant capacity of a material against five primary reactive oxygen species (ROSs, commonly called "oxygen radicals") found in humans: peroxyl radical, hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, and peroxynitrite.
With the results of those tests for Spectra’s individual constituents in hand, Evers said the company could pick and choose among antioxidant components to arrive at the specific performance it was seeking. It ended up with a formula that has 32 ingredients, including botanicals such as broccoli, garlic, camu camu, coffee, green tea and turmeric.
ORAC black eye
Quoting ORAC values has gotten something of a black eye in recent years, as botanical ingredient suppliers engaged in an arms race of sorts, with ever-higher numbers being cited for new sources. Trouble was, there was no connection between the bench tests from which those numbers were derived and any beneficial effect in the body. Questions were also raised about how much antioxidant activity was enough and, in light of the astronomical numbers quoted for some botanicals, was it possible to have too much? The fortunes of ORAC as a marketing tool hit a nadir in 2012 when the United States Department of Agriculture dropped its database that catalogued the ORAC values of hundreds of food and supplement ingredients.
Now with the results of this most recent study, Evers said FutureCeuticals is on the way toward answering some of those questions about ORAC vaules and takes a step toward restoring some credibility to the measure.
“In 2012 we were vocal in the sense that we thought that ORAC was a nice quality standard for a product, but it didn’t tell us much of what those ingredients did in the human system. We were very keen to begin that process to get from here’s what we can say about a product to here’s what we can actually say about whats happening in the human system,” Evers told NutraIngredients-USA.
“This study is the first of two separate studies on Spectra that demonstrate how certain, well-designed combinations of fruits and vegetables at relatively low intake levels can have meaningful in vivo activity against the very targets that guided the rational design of Spectra,” he said.
FutureCeuticals’ new study is published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Science & Nutrition. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study used a flurometric measuing technique detailed in a previous study to gauge the amount of reactive oxygen species in the blood. Researchers recruited 24 healthy overweight to obese adults whose ages ranged from 18 to 50. The particpants were not tea or coffee drinkers. Subjects fasted and were given 100 mg of Spectra or a placebo and had blood drawn three times at hour intervals.
The study showed significant effects in the Spectra group in overall ROS in the blood. The primary goal of the study was to further verify the flurometric measuring technique using dihydrorhodamine 6G (DHR6G) as a fluorescent probe and in that the researchers reported success.
“To date, we are unaware of any human studies reporting any direct impact of polyphenol-rich food materials on ROS concentrations. Accordingly, we report here the use of DHR6G as a novel approach to measuring this relationship using Spectra™ as an example. Our results showed that the plant-based antioxidants present in Spectra functioned well in vivo, and that the DHR6G assay can be a potentially valuable new tool for in vivo oxidative stress studies,” the researchers wrote.
“We were really keen to do some more studies about what it really means to take antioxidants. We have learned over the course of the last three to five years the concept that more antioxidants is better is actually a myth. We’ve seen instances in the past where some of these very high ORAC materials are active in very low dosages,” Evers said.
This is why Spectra’s formula makes sense even if some of the constituents will be represented in only minute quantities in a 100 mg serving. Being able to quantify the overall activity of the formula will help make Spectra a valuable addition to multivitamins and other dietary supplements, he said.
“We like to design producs that are small in dosage and easy to incorporate in other products. We think Spectra is a cost effective way to a science-substantiated story line to a product,” he said.
Source: Journal of Food Science & Nutrition
“Decrease of free radical concentrations in humans following consumption of a high antioxidant capacity natural product"
Authors: Nezmer, Boris; Chang, Tony et al