The Italian company launched its Meriva product about four years ago and since then has produced 17 studies with the product – two of the most recent relating to sports nutrition.
Last week it presented findings of a study on curcumin and 'delayed onset muscle soreness' at the Football Medicine Strategies for Player Care Conference in London.
A second study also published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at the impact of curcumin supplementation on cytokine and inflammatory marker responses following two hours of endurance cycling.
Christian Artaria, marketing director for the firm, said this focus marked a new direction not just for its product but for the company as a whole.
“There are few ingredients authorised by EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] in the macro category of sport: some vitamins and minerals for the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; potassium, vitamin D and protein for growth or maintenance of muscle mass.
“But many other acceptable claims in the sport area are totally uncovered and we see there a potential interest, both from a scientific and consumer/market point of view for our Meriva [product],” he told us.
Curcumin is the main curcuminoid of turmeric. Curcuminoids are phenols responsible for turmeric’s yellow colour.
There are currently no claims for curcumin authorised in Europe. Whilst Artaria said such an application was a way off yet, he added this could be on the cards as the firm continued its research. The current botanical health claim deadlock need not be a barrier in this, he said.
Combining with protein?
Artaria said combinations with more traditional sports nutrition ingredients could be one option since curcumin’s mechanism of action was complimentary to things like protein, for example.
Asked if such an ingredient was likely to be accepted by sporting consumers, he said feedback so far had been positive. Beyond this, education in spreading the word would be key.
The company claimed some football teams had added Meriva to the players' diet and anecdotal evidence from those responsible for the teams' health was positive for both physical and mental health under stress.
He called Merviva the company’s most successful launch in the last few years in terms of sales, but declined to give figures. The product was currently positioned for healthy inflammatory response and joint health.