The survey found that 57% of Americans fear reduction in brain function more than physical decline (43%). Additionally, more than half (54%) of survey respondents admit to having trouble remembering names, while 30% admit to not remembering friends’ or family members’ birthdays. The survey also showed forgetfulness is prevalent in younger Americans. The majority of millennials (59%) report frequent forgetfulness during their morning routines, with most forgetting keys (32%), cell phones (28%), and to turn off appliances (21%).
The rising tide of Alzheimer’s disease and the publicity that has gotten is of course driving the trend. According to recent figures from the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, 15% of Americans age 65-74 have the disease. That rises to 44% in the 74-85 age group, and declines to 38% in the 85-and-up group. The risk is greater for African Americans and Hispanics for unexplained reasons, though these may be socio-economic. The association notes that income and education levels play a role in the risk of developing the disease.
Brain health ingredient
Kyowa stands to benefit from this trend of rising concern among consumers. The company commissioned the survey to support its brain health ingredient Cognizin, a branded form of the brain nutrient citicoline.
“It’s the whole concern about brain function over physical decline. They’re worried about it but they don’t know what to do about it,” Karen Todd, director of marketing for Kyowa Hakko USA told NutraIngredients-USA.
Indeed, the association’s research indicates that data from 21 states that stared in 2011 to include questions on self-perceived confusion and memory on behavioral surveys showed that 12.7% of Americans age 60 and older reported
experiencing worsening confusion or memory loss, but 81% of them had not consulted a health care professional about it.
Todd said Kyowa’s research—both in the consumer and scientific realms—can help underpin brand holders’ efforts to communicate the ingredient’s benefits to the end users.
“It’s very similar to the nutrition for heart health story. There are components of exercise, nutrition and proper rest. But unlike an ingredient like omega-3s, you can’t get adequate amounts of citicoline in the diet. There are only very small quantities in most foods. So that supports the use of supplementation,” Todd said.
Citicoline is a molecule that supports phospholipid synthesis in the brain. Among the evidence that Kyowa has for the ingredients effects is a study published in 2012 in the journal Food and Nutritional Sciences conducted among 60 healthy women in Utah that suggested that citicoline may improve attentional performance in middle-aged women and may ameliorate attentional deficits associated with central nervous system disorders.
Todd said that when Kyowa works with new customers in the brain health arena, they often see a kitchen sink approach.
“People will put so many brain health ingredients together and sometimes they are competing. They’ll put phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine and even choline itself in there. We show them that Cognizin is doing all of what those ingredients are doing,” she said.