Special edition: Sports nutrition

'Red spinach' extract's high nitrate content offers benefits over beetroot juice, manufacturer says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Dolcas Biotech is making waves in the sports nutrition field with a red spinach extract that it says contains more nitrate than beetroot juice yet has no sugar.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA as the SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, NV, Shavon Jackson-Michel, ND, the company’s medical and scientific affairs manager, said the new ingredient offers some distinct benefits. Being something of a newcomer to the nitrate arena, those benefits are ranked against the current ruler of that roost: beetroot juice.

First off, to the source: DolCas (which works with sister company Arjuna Natural Extracts) extracts the ingredient from several varieties of leafy herbs of the Amaranthceae​ genus, the most prominent of which is referred to as red spinach and is consumed as a leafy vegetable in South Asia (and which is not related to the more familiar green spinach). Some references to this substance have called it an ‘amaranth’ extract, which it technically is but which could also potentially could lead to confusion with grain amaranth, the seeds of which are positioned as an ‘ancient grain’ and which are consumed as a cereal in many markets worldwide. 

Standardized extract

Jackson-Michel said one of the primary benefits for formulators is that the Oxystorm ingredient is standardized to 9% nitrates, whereas beetroot juice is more variable.

“Or ingredient is standardized to the nitrate content. And it is standardized to the potassium content as well. Beetroot juice is something that has been on the market for quite some time and has a lot of research behind it. But beetroot juice can come in at nitrate contents ranging from .5% to 2% or maybe 2.5%. So there is a level of unpredictability with beetroot juice,”​ she said.

“We have also been able to remove the oxalates that can be found in beetroot juice that may be problematical for some people in terms of kidney disease. And our extract is without sugar; whereas with beetroot juice you can be getting a lot of sugar,” ​she said.

Jackson-Michel said that a pharmacokinetic study for the ingredient showed promising results​.

“We did see an increase in nitrates. We saw a peak in NOx at 90 minutes post intake. Additionally we saw an increase in ventilatory threshold, which is kind of a surrogate marker for anaerobic threshold,” ​she said. She said that could allow athletes to work at their peak efficiency for longer before becoming fatigued or having to back off because of lactate build up in the muscles.

Jackson-Michel said that future research will look to further characterize the ingredient’s chronic benefits. It’s one thing to boost performance one time, but that might not necessarily translate to improving an athlete’s results over the course of a training protocol that might extend to many months.

“The research suggests that nitrates may have a two fold effect.  There is an acute effect bringing more oxygen to the tissues, then there is a longer term effect that you would need to characterize with a chronic study. There is this other aspect where you are getting a change win the way the muscles are working on the cellular level. That is something that is on the horizon for us as well,”​ she said.

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1 comment

Red spinach

Posted by richard Kozlenko,

Keep in mind, spinach is wonderful but also caution for some who must be aware of oxalates ( kidney stone concerns)--spinach is high and beets low. In a dose of spinach extract, is this analyzed?

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