HEALTH

Supplements gain ground in medical community

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS Nutritional supplements are gaining ground in the traditional medical community, according to an April report in the Chronicle, published by the investment banking firm of The Mercanti Group.

According to the report, consumers are increasingly moving toward alternative solutions to general wellness issues, spurred by high healthcare costs, quality of care issues and distrust of pharmaceuticals, among other reasons. In addition, supplements are gaining scientific credibility, thanks to Food and Drug Administration insistence on product quality and testing procedures, and increasing research by such federal agencies as the National Institute of Health.

“As consumers have become more interested in health and overall wellness, the market for products and services that provide a holistic approach has greatly increased,” stated author Eric Groman, a principal in Mercanti’s Los Angeles office. “Given that healthcare professionals tend to be more sensitive to product efficacy and the purity of ingredients, practitioner lines are generally characterized by high quality, and have more of a scientific foundation.”

Groman also noted that growth of nutritional supplements is much sharper in the practitioner setting  compared with retail. “In this way, practitioner products generally address the quality concerns that have become increasingly important as consumers look to supplements as a way to remedy or alleviate real health problems.”

The report characterizes the $1.7 billion practitioner market as fairly fragmented and crowded. It identifies two of the leading players in the business as Metagenics, a 25-year-old company that has been a pioneer in the field of nutrigenomics, with products aimed at affecting genetic expression and that help prevent or manage chronic diseases; and Standard Process, an 80-year old company offering a full line of whole food and herbal supplements, as well as veterinary items.

Others active in the field that the report discusses are Allergy Research Group, Atrium Innovations, Designs for Health, Integrative Therapeutics, Seroyal International and Thome Research.

“The market is certainly ripe for future growth,” Groman said. “As quality and efficacy continue to be high on the list of consumer demand, and as supplements continue to gain credibility in traditional medical circles, practitioners will have a deepening impact and influence of broader activity in the market for alternative healthcare products.”

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CRN to publish risk assessment of amino acids

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Thursday announced that its risk assessments on the safe upper-intake levels for the amino acids taurine, glutamine and arginine used in dietary supplements will be published in the April issue of the peer-reviewed journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. “Over the last decade the prevalence of amino acids within sports nutrition supplements and ‘energy-boosting’ functional foods and beverages has significantly increased,” stated Andrew Shao, CRN vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs and co-author of the paper. “We chose to assess the safety of taurine, glutamine and arginine because they are among the most widely used and studied of the supplemental amino acids.”

CRN concluded that the absence of adverse effects is strong for taurine at up to a dose of 3 g per day; for glutamine, at up to 14 g per day; and for aginine, at up to 20 g per day.

“CRN is dedicated to helping ingredient manufactures deliver the safest products possible to consumers, and risk assessments are the best indicators we have to establish upper limits,” stated John Hathcock, senior vice president of scientific and international affairs and also co-author. “These risk assessments … represent the first time upper-intake levels have been identified for amino acids.  …  It is important that we don’t allow for a non-scientific approach, such as the use of a random multiple of the recommended daily allowance.”

The upper levels do not suggest that supplements taken above the level identified are unsafe, nor do they constitute a recommended intake, the authors cautioned. They merely identify the highest quantitative level at which there is no known toxicity, ensuring that science is the deciding factor when it comes to setting and enforcing regulatory guidelines for ingredients used in dietary supplements. 

This is the eighth in a series of risk assessments completed by CRN scientists.  Previous risk assessments on vitamins C and E were published in 2005 and on vitamin D in 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Risk assessments on nonessential nutrients including coenzyme Q10, lutein and lycopene, creatine, carnitine, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate were published in 2006 and 2007 in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.

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Twinlab Fuel announces support for Ranger 2008 competition

BY Michael Johnsen

AMERICAN FORK, Utah Twinlab Fuel, a division of supplement manufacturer ISI Brands, announced Friday its support of the Best Ranger Competition 2008, the 25th anniversary of the competition that recognizes the best two-man “buddy” team in United States Armed Forces.

“We have incredible respect for the men and women in the Armed Forces and are looking forward to being part of this proud tradition,” stated Mark Fox, president of ISI Brands. The endurance event kicked off Friday and ends Sunday.

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