The Chicago-based company breeds marigolds, with parent Ball Horticultural Company, for its carotenoid ingredients, zeaxanthin and lutein, which support prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Chrysantis says it will launch zeaxanthin ester products over the next few months, thereby providing a greater variety of natural zeaxanthin ingredients.
The benefit of zeaxanthin esters over the regular zeaxanthin compund, according to the company, is that they are more bioavailable as part of a fat-free diet.
"There is a little bit of controversy over this," Chrysantis general manager Manuel Pavon told NutraIngredients-USA.com. "For good bioavailability, it's better that you have a little bit of fat with a carotenoid compound."
Therefore, in a fat-free diet, free carotenoids are not as bioavailable as esters. Esters are fatty acids linked to the carotenoids.
"This new patent allows Chrysantis to offer products which can be described as the most natural form of natural zeaxanthin," said Pavon."These are the only esters from marigolds."
Zeaxanthin is marketed at formulators who are already using lutein, to complement its benefits.
The new patent, entitled "Mixed zeaxanthin ester concentrate and uses thereof", expands Chrysantis' patent portfolio, which already includes two patents relating to marigolds and the production of zeaxanthin.
Normally a marigold flower carotenoid breakdown is 80 percent lutein and 5 percent zeaxanthin. However, Chrysantis' proprietary zeaxanthin-lutein Marigolds have profiles ranging from 75 percent zeaxanthin and 5 percent lutein to 50 percent zeaxanthin and 50 percent lutein.
Taking lutein with zeaxathin could help more than 98,000 people retain their independence in old age over the next five years, according to a study conducted by healthcare policy research firm, the Lewin Group, and commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance.
AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older, according to the National Eye Institute. The greatest risk factor is age, with people over age 60 at greater risk and people over 75 years of age have a 30 percent risk of getting AMD.
Although studies have shown a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin can support eye health, lutein sales outpace those of zeaxanthin since it has been available for longer. The zeaxanthin market is estimated to be worth about $2m, while reports have set lutein between $100m and $130m.
Lutein has been on the market for more than a decade and is contained in around 430 supplement products, while zeaxanthin was not available until 2001 and is found in only about 15 products.
The antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein help filter out damaging light in the macula. These carotenoids can be found in yellow- and orange-colored, or green leafy, vegetables. But it is believed that when a diet is lacking in these vegetables, supplementation can fill the void.
Not only would greater zeaxanthin sales be a windfall to manufacturers of the ingredient, but the savings for healthcare could also be great. The Lewin Group estimated a $2.5bn 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.