“Inflammation ties together all of the chronic disease affecting the population,” explained Dr Matthew Roberts, who joined NBTY as its Chief Scientific Officer in May. “Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and gastrointestinal issues like IBD or Crohn’s disease – they all have an inflammatory component. And there are significant lifestyle opportunities to be able to control it, including diet, which is our area of interest; sleep; and moderate exercise.”
Ingredients and products
So how does the company approach the subject from a science and product development perspective? “We already have a number of products and ingredients that address inflammation to some extent,” said Dr Roberts. “We then double down on getting the message out to consumers and other stakeholders.”
“One of the biggest opportunities is to deliver more omega-3s, and thereby reduce the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio,” he said. “Omega-3s are well studied and shown to reduce many inflammatory biomarkers. I think most clinicians and scientists accept that omega-3s act in an anti-inflammatory way.
“In terms of omega-3 product development, we think you’ll see a move in the market to higher potency omega-3. This means that you’ll have higher doses of DHA and EPA, and pill size will decrease which should increase compliance.”
“Omega-3 suppliers are investing in high potency omega-3s and what we will see in the next two to three years is the cost of these high potency ingredients going down precipitously, and it may be that high potency becomes the standard.”
Dr Susan Mitmesser, the company’s Director of Nutrition Research, added that the production of ‘purer’ omega-3s will also lead to purer DHA and EPA, allowing manufacturers to potentially build their own lipid profiles to a specific health condition.
The company also uses 5-LOXIN, a Boswellia serrata extract, in its Osteo Bi-Flex product that has been found to decrease TNF-alpha and there is clinical data to support its ability to minimize discomfort in a short period of time.
Like many in the industry, NBTY is very excited about curcumin, although the bioavailability of curcumin is an issue, said Dr Mitmesser, “We have a technology that is used in our Solgar curcumin product that increases the bioavailability of curcumin 185 times.
“Also, curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric,” she added, “and there is emerging data to show that other curcuminoids may have the same activity.”
Dr Roberts added: “There is a long list of ingredients and we could go on to talk about vitamin E, resveratrol, flavonoids, antioxidants, and more. For us the focus is to explore and evaluate that list of possible ingredients, and also to explore new product delivery formats.”
Many of the novel delivery technologies, particularly for fat soluble ingredients, have been around for a while, he said, but are now being used on an industrial scale. These include emulsification, micelles, liposomes, and other structured lipid vehicles.
“If you look at the literature, there are a lot of people studying inflammation very carefully,” said Dr Roberts. “There is consensus that decreasing levels of the markers of inflammation would be better for everyone.
“What you’ll see from NBTY is a focus on emerging consensus areas, and inflammation is one of those.”