However, nutrient levels of an ingredient have a limit. That's where bioavailability and method of delivery can step in as areas of innovation and improvement.
From powders, capsules and bars; what are the nutrition industry learning in this constantly evolving sector and what does the future hold for ingredient delivery and bioavailability?
NutraIngredients spoke to Dominik Mattern, business development manager at dosage solutions provider, Capsugel.
As well as the growth of sports nutrition, what trends do you see delivery and dosage playing a big part in?
Well, certainly for the sports nutrition sector, we are seeing the demand for vegetarian and vegan-approved delivery forms. I would say nine out of ten enquiries we receive in the healthcare space are asking for vegetarian dosage forms. In the sports nutrition space it is close. Around seven out of ten enquiries.
Another area is the demand, particularly from athletes like bodybuilders for clean label supplements. So ‘free from’ foods and ‘certified organic’ is something that really has arrived in sports nutrition.
We should not forget about the bodybuilders and the elite athletes! They form the core audience of the sports nutrition market despite its penetration into the mainstream sector. If a supplement receives an approval from this group there is a good chance it will be successful in the mainstream.
I consider clean label as not a trend anymore. It is a big movement or even the minimum requirement or standard we are seeing in the industry.
Capsugel are working on developing new methods of delivery. What roles do you see consumers and companies play in advancing this technology?
I think there is the issue of trust and image perception for both the consumer and the industry. Therefore, the question of reputation and compliance is an important one.
Safety is such a concern for the European consumer. It is a challenge when you look at delivery forms. People are really looking for excipient replacements, which is a challenge, when you consider the fillers, lubricants and colours have been a mainstay of product composition. Now, we are being asked to get rid of all that.
The interest in higher dosages has gained momentum of late. Do you expect this interest to continue and why do you think this is the case?
We know that consumers expect dosage forms that are easy to swallow, to work quickly and have no bad aftertaste.
It harks back to the issue of the mainstream’s interest in sport’s nutrition, who are more drawn to the evidence-based aspect of the product.
They do not look for the most cutting-edge ingredient but the most natural solution. They are also not so much interested in an ultra-high dosage product.
On the other hand, if there were a high-dosage requirement, which makes sense like for creatine, where you would need three grams to satisfy the EFSA health claim regarding high intensity exercise, then of course you would need to satisfy this demand.
We have developed a dosage form known as lipid multi particulates (LMP). It is an example of improving the bioavailability of the ingredient via a controlled release matrix. This technology is suitable as a pre-workout booster as a powder blend.
Looking towards the future, where do you see the sports nutrition industry heading in the next 5 years or so?
From a dosage perspective, I think because of the mainstream effect combined with the EFSA claims, everyone is more or less generic. Therefore, dosage forms become even more important.
However, to differentiate, you need innovative dosage forms. Therefore, there are the vegetarian and LMP forms. These are great ways to bring technology into the discussion.
We’re finding people are speaking much more about the uniqueness of the dosage forms. Technology like a rapid release capsule, or a biodegradable liquid delivery form, are main topics of discussion.
What hasn’t been mentioned is the potential of a dual cap, a product that combines a pre-filled inner capsule with an outer liquid-filled capsule. It is a patented technology from Capsugel that allows two incompatible ingredients to be administered as a dosage form to solve stability issues.
So for example, it could combine probiotics and fish oil, or vitamin K2 and magnesium. Both are not possible to combine in a standard product because vitamin K2 is liquidated in a magnesium environment.
Sports nutrition boundaries are becoming blurred. Muscle building is still a big driver but equally so is weight loss, wellbeing and brain health. Healthy ageing is also a concern and sports nutrition is closely related as all its issues are perfectly positioned to apply to the health ageing category. Sarcopenia or muscle loss is one example that comes to mind.