The Palexpo exhibition centre saw established supplement manufacturers exist alongside up-and-comers and niche solutions in the heart health market.
According to Euromonitor, worldwide demand for vitamins and food supplements escalated steadily to $84.26 bn (€74.5 bn) in 2011, up 6.1% from $79.43 bn (€70.2 bn) in 2010.
The market research organisation identified the leading categories globally in 2011 to be multivitamins ($16.12 bn (€14.2 bn)), combination supplements ($7.4 bn (€6.5 bn)), vitamin B ($4.5 bn (€4.0 bn)), minerals ($3.55 bn (€3.1 bn)), and fish oils/omegas ($3.08 bn (€2.7 bn)).
Players in the heart health market are eager to boost the profile of established and emerging nutritional ingredients, often seeking to revise outdated perceptions about how the cardiovascular system can be supported via supplementation.
An entry that is making waves in the heart health supplement market is cocoa, a supplement that takes another approach in providing its recognised cardiovascular benefits.
“In terms of food supplements, we think Naturex can play a role with cocoa flavanols, and its proven efficacy in improving blood vessel elasticity and blood flow,” said Elizabeth Bui, nutrition and health business unit director at Naturex.
“Specifically, it’s the catechins present in flavanols that is responsible for the ingredients’ mechanism of action.”
The dysfunction of endothelial cells is considered an early marker of atherosclerosis as its role in blood coagulation through the dilation and constriction of vessels is central to a reduction in hypertension and increased heart function.
Naturex’s recently acquired cocoa supplement from Barry Callebaut, CocoActiv protects endothelial function by relaxing blood vessels, protecting the lining and enhancing nitric oxide production. It is backed by an EU health claim and was a finalist in the NutraIngredients Awards for Healthy Ageing Ingredients of the Year.
Glanbia Nutritionals was another manufacturer that made its offerings in cardiovascular health the spotlight at Vitafoods.
Its CardioTABS formulation is comprised of OmniMega, the only compressible omega-3 powder on the market, and MenaQ7, a synthetic vitamin K2 supplement.
Vitamin K2 is considered one of the last vitamin groups left in harnessing its heart health benefits in supplement form.
Its challenge is made all the more daunting when compared to the progress made with products containing vitamin B (folic acid, B6 and B12) and vitamin D, specifically D3.
“Vitamin K2 supports the targeted use of calcium in the body and helps transport calcium away from the tissues via the matrix GLA protein activation,” said Dagmar Ortlepp, marketing manager for Glanbia Nutritionals.
“This removes calcium from arterial walls, helping to maintain cardiovascular health.”
Indeed, a wealth of studies has shown vitamin K2-dependent proteins demonstrating the inhibition of vascular calcification. Much more recently was the publication of a review that addressed whether vitamin K2 was viable enough as a novel treatment option in cardiovascular disease.
Lycored’s product, Cardio-O-Mato not only featured at Vitafoods this year, but the lycopene-based product was named Finished Product of the Year in the heart health category at the Nutraingredients Awards.
Whilst not a new ingredient to enter the heart health market, Lycored have combined lycopene and phytosterols in a 1:1 ratio to support cardiovascular health.
Along with phytoene, phytofluene, beta-carotene, and tocopherols (vitamin E), the US-based company believe its patent-protected formulation has resulted in a supplement that reduces oxidised LDL cholesterol, lowers systolic blood pressure, and preserve the endothelium that supports blood vessel function.
“The creation of Cardi-O-mato is the result of five years research into determining the optimum ratios of each ingredient,” explained Dr Karin Linnewiel Hermoni, product manager, Caro-Blends at LycoRed
“Efficacious phytonutrients behave differently when combined,” she explained. “Sometimes they don’t potentiate each other and sometimes they reduce the efficacy of each other.”
Hermoni pointed towards the results of an endothelial study that indicated an increase in serum lycopene after supplementation could reduce oxidative stress. This has been previously shown to play a role in endothelial function.