Proven ingredients, omega-3s for cross sell key to success in cognitive health space, marketing experts say

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Proven ingredients, omega-3s for cross sell key to success in cognitive health space, marketing experts say

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid

Marketers of cognitive support products experience some common pitfalls, according to experts at NutraScience Labs, the newly constituted marketing arm of Twinlab. Failure to rely on proven ingredients and lack of an omega-3 in the product lineup to provide a cross-selling opportunity are chief among these, they say.

NutraScience was founded from the assets of contract manufacturing broker NutriCap Labs that Twinlab recently acquired​. The division, based in Farmingdale, NY, acts as a marketing arm for the contract manufacturing capacity available at Twinlab’s facility in American Fork, UT, where Twinlab also manufactures its own products.

A cross-selling no brainer

Omega-3s are among the most intensively researched ingredients in the dietary supplements industry. Originally looked at for their cardioprotective benefits, EPA and DHA have more recently been looked at for their role in supporting people with age-related cognitive decline, for mood and other indications.  The many benefits of omega-3s led the experts at NutraScience in their earlier guise as NutriCap Labs to include omega-3s as a stock item.

“From an ingredient standpoint, omega-3s have an incredible amount of studies behind them,” ​Blayney McEneaney, NutraScience’s vice president of sales told NutraIngredients-USA. “I think having an omega-3 soft gel is really a must for any line that is making condition specific claims.  It can be broad, whether it is a line aimed at heart health, joint health or cognition. To have it available as a cross sell is really something every brand should be doing.”

McEneaney said one issue that his customers ran into in the past was the high minimum most manufacturers required for running a lot of fish oil soft gels. Many brands in the development stage couldn’t consider the investment for a run of 500,000 or a million soft gels.

“So a while back we made the decision to carry an omega-3 as a staple item. That way brands could have that cross-selling opportunity without the high minimums,” ​he said.

Ingredients to rely on

Another pitfall marketers sometime run into is the failure to include tried and true ingredients.  Among the foremost cognitive health ingredients that NutraScience formulators have worked with are vinpocetine, huperizine A, alpha GPC, phosphatidylserine and Bacopa monnieri. ​According to NutraScience’s formulation expert Gene Bruno, this last should really be first.

Bacopa monnieri​ is a wetlands plant that can be found worldwide and has a long history of use in the Ayurvedic tradition.  In an interview in 2013 with NutraIngredients-USA, Mark Blumenthal, founder of the American Botanical Council, identified Bacopa as one of the up-and-coming Ayurvedic ingredients poised for a market breakthrough​. The story has only gotten stronger since then. In a roundup of cognitive support ingredients published by NutraIngredients-USA last year, Blumenthal said: “It was called ‘Brahmi’ (meaning supreme) in Ayurvedic medicine, which is indicative of the high regard it was held in.  The research coming on Bacopa is fairly impressive, and it all seems to be moving in the same direction of increased cognitive function and better short term memory.”

Bruno said Bacopa has some strong selling points, both from a research and cost-in-use perspective.

“If I were putting those ingredients in order, I would probably put Bacopa first. These are all good ingredients but a lot of the research that has been done on ingredients in the sector has been done on people with dementia. For Bacopa, there is research in both dementia and in healthy populations.  And the other ingredients tend to be somewhat costly, and Bacopa is less expensive,” ​he said.

Basing it on the science

The expense of high-quality, well researched ingredients points to another issue that concerns Bruno.  It’s not so much of a pitfall as a (perhaps questionable) choice. Bruno always advises clients to include ingredients in formulations at clinically relevant doses, but it’s obvious to him that many products in the marketplace don’t follow that path, and it’s true across the board, not just in cognitive support products.

“There are plenty of nutraceuticals with published research behind them. I’m always harping on that you have to include nutraceuticals with human research and if you are going to use them you have to use them at a clinically relevant dose. There are just too many window dressing formulas out there. It’s a black eye on the industry as a whole,”​ Bruno said.

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