NutriLead’s entry was titled “Identifying a New Natural Immune Ingredient with Clinically Proven Health Benefits” and detailed the research behind its BeniCaros-branded carrot-derived rhamnogalacturonan-I (cRG-I) for immune health.
“We appreciated that BeniCaros is an innovative product targeting a remarkably relevant, common, and timely concern, and importantly, appears to be supported by solid emerging evidence from both pre-clinical and clinical studies with mechanism of action, safety, and efficacy all investigated,” said the NutraIngredients-USA judges. “And in the human RCT both subjective and objective outcome measures were considered. The ingredient had that x-factor to differentiate products in a crowded category.”
NutriLeads was founded in 2012 using knowledge and patents acquired from Unilever, explained Dr Ruud Albers, the company’s co-founder and Chief Science Office (CSO). Initial analyses of 450 candidate ingredients for immune support and reduction of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) triggered interest in ginseng, but further commercial development of this source was hindered by questions about regulatory hurdles and sustainability. But as the ginseng door closed, the researchers looked for others to open with a project to identify the active compound(s).
These were subsequently identified as pectin-derived RG-I polysaccharides, and the observation that these were not unique to ginseng. Indeed, carrot – and carrot pomace specifically – was identified as a very good source of RG-1.
This work led to the development and commercialization of the company’s BeniCaros ingredient, which is supported by pre-clinical and clinical data, including a controlled, randomized, double-blind dose-response study, which was published in 2021 in Nutrients, and formed the basis of the entry for the NutraIngredients-USA Award for Nutrition Research Project.
Dr Albers told us earlier this year that the trial was the type he has been wanting to do for a long time.
“Twelve years ago, I was involved in a number of expert groups with ILSI around the effect of nutrition on immune function,” he explained. “There’s no standard biomarker for the immune system, but if you want to say something about the immune system, you have to study it while it’s working.”
The study included 146 healthy adults given either cRG-I (300 mg per day) or placebo for eight weeks, after which they were exposed to a standardized dose of an attenuated rhinovirus (rhinovirus strain 16, RV16) via the nose.
As stated by the researchers in their paper: “This standardized RV16 challenge model provided the unique opportunity to investigate, in humans, the effect of cRG-I on the kinetics of early innate immune and anti-viral responses in conjunction with the perceived impact on symptoms using a validated questionnaire.
The data revealed that daily consumption of BeniCaros prior to the rhinovirus infection significantly accelerated protective innate immune and antiviral responses, resulting in a 20% reduction in severity of symptoms, and a 25% reduction in symptom duration.
Stem & Root, a brand from Bayer, picked BeniCaros as the central ingredients for its Daily Immunity product, which was launched earlier this year. The product won the NutraIngredients-USA Award for Immune Support Product of the Year category.
Commenting on its success, Erik Dam, Chief Executive Officer of NutriLeads, said: “We are gratified to receive these prestigious honors for BeniCaros,” said. “Our team, along with our research partners at numerous medical and scientific institutions, have worked diligently over the past decade to discover and develop this exciting new ingredient.
“We thank our partners at Bayer for making BeniCaros available to consumers who want to strengthen their immune and overall health.”
NutriLeads’ win followed three years of success in the same category for Verdure Science. The Indiana-based company was still among the finalists for this year’s award with “Effects of Bacopa monnieri extract (Bacognize) on stress, fatigue, quality of life and sleep”, along with Nuseed Nutritional with “Innovating Nutriterra: the plant-based Total Omega-3”.