Kalsec announced in January that it had become the third licensee of ZeaVision's patent, alongside Chrysantis and DSM Nutritional Products.
Like Chrysantis' marigold-derived zeaxanthin, Kalsec's ZeaGold is from a natural source - but in this case paprika. DSM's Optisharp is synthetic.
ZeaVision president Terry Hatfield told NutraIngredients-USA.com that ZeaVision plans to be "a big user of Kalsec's zeaxanthin."
"We will be looking at all three suppliers for quality and price," he said, adding that the benefit of having three suppliers in the market means that there are more people "on the ground talking about zeaxanthin".
Like its cousin lutein, the carotenoid zeaxanthin, found in many fruits and vegetables, is thought to help protect the retina from the damaging effects of sunlight and oxidative stress and free radicals.
Studies have indicated that dietary intake of 6mg of lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect against the onset of age related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease that affects the central macula of the eye leaving sufferers with only peripheral vision.
More than 10 million adults in the United States suffer from age-related macula degeneration.
Most adults, however, get only 2 to 4 mg per day of lutein and zeaxanthin from their diet - a shortfall that has led to the popularity of eye health supplements.
ZeaVision has just announced the extension of its EyePromise line with EyePromise Restore, a professional line for distribution through ophthalmic professionals. It goes hand-in-hand with a diagnostic tool called QuantifEYE that conducts measurements of retinal levels in less than five minutes, to which ZeaVision has the exclusive worldwide distribution rights.
Awareness of zeaxanthin is some way behind lutein, which has been used in formulations for about a decade. Zeaxanthin began to be used from 2001, but has only really started to take off from 2004 following the resolution of a patent dispute between ZeaVision and DSM that resulted in the granting of DSM's license.
"It expands awareness of zeaxanthin when you add a supply stream at the quality of Kalsec," said Hatfield.
The zeaxanthin market is estimated to be worth about $2m, whereas some reports have set lutein as high as $130m.
Of zeaxanthin, Hatfield said: "We are certain that it is growing".
The market was dealt a helping hand in fall 2005, with the publication of the Lewin study commioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, which estimated a $2.5 billion net savings to the Medicare system over five years (2006-2010) from a reduction in the relative risk of ADM through daily intake of 6-10 mg of lutein with zeaxanthin.
It also concluded that taking lutein with zeaxathin could help more than 98,000 people retain their independence in old age over the five years.
"Lutein is important and has a role in the eye. We support that, but not to the exclusion of zeaxanthin."
Some lutein suppliers have not been so magnanimous about the role of zeaxanthin, however, claiming that lutein is converted to zeaxanthin by the eye anyway, so there is no need to take both.
Hatfield refuted this, explaining that lutein is converted to mesozeaxanthin, which is not believed to be as functional.
In a recent interview with NutraIngredients-USA.com, Chrysantis' Manuel Pavon drew attention to several studies he said presented strong evidence against lutein to zeaxanthin conversion. The most important of these he said was published last year, looking at the effects of lutein or zeaxanthin supplementation on the adipose tissue and retina of xanthophylls-free monkeys (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Feb;46(2):692-702).