Joint health supplements are growing in popularity exponentially, with consumer demand for these products driving a wave of innovation. While older ingredients are not getting attention, a wave of research activity on new ingredients has caught the attention of consumers. In fact, the joint health market is a dominant force among nutrients, reaching a staggering $10.8 billion valuation worldwide in 2021, says Lindsey Toth, global marketing director for capsules and health ingredients in Lonza (Basel, Switzerland).
Toth explains that consumers have adopted sedentary lifestyles in droves during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has contributed to the increased prevalence of weight gain and joint stiffness. With consumers wanting to get past the pandemic and get moving again, demand for joint health products is now at an all-time high, she says. Here are some of the ongoing innovations in joint health ingredients aimed at meeting the unprecedented demand for proven products.
Collagen restores its function and relieves pain
Recent research shows that collagen – by itself as a single ingredient product and when incorporated into blends – has powerful effects on joint function.
One study for the year 20221 Lonza investigated the effects of Lonza’s UC-II, an unchanged type II collagen component, on range of motion at knee flexion and extension angles in healthy subjects aged 20 to 55 years with activity-related discomfort. Participants received either 40 mg of UC-II daily or a placebo for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, subjects with UC-II showed a 3.23-degree increase in the flexion range of motion and a 2.21-degree increase in the extension range of motion. These increases were statistically significant. Subgroup analysis found that people over the age of 35 showed greater increases.
Toth says the 3-degree increase in the knee’s range of motion represents a more than a decade-long recovery of joint function. Furthermore, she showed that in this study, UC-II worked 15 times better than placebo.
Collagen also shows its effectiveness when incorporated into blends. Post-marketing control study2An observational, single-arm pilot study evaluated the efficacy of a product called AflaB2 in 40 male and female outpatients with osteoarthritis of the knee. AflaB2 is a blend of the brand Laila Nutraceuticals (India) Boswellia serrata Aflapin and Bioiberica’s (Spain) brand name Collavant n2 extract type II collagen.
All patients in the study were given a single daily dose of an oral solution containing 40 mg of type II collagen and 100 mg of Boswellia serratextract. Subjects remained on the protocol for three months and Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain scores and Arthritis Index scores were assessed at the Universities of Western Ontario and McMaster University (WOMAC) on days 0, 5, 15, 30, 60, and 90. After 90 days, they showed Participants had a 73% drop in VAS scores and a 76% drop in overall WOMAC scores.
This study showed that collagen may be more effective when combined with herbal ingredients, says Jaume Reguant, MD, director of health care at Bioiberica. Rigoant notes that in the AflaB2 trial, the researchers observed a significant reduction in VAS pain starting on the fifth day of the study.
“Alone, the benefits of native type 2 collagen are usually seen in a month or two,” says Reguant. “This study indicates, however, that when used with Boswellia serrata, Results may come faster. “
“One of the most exciting developments in joint health right now is exploring how we can take the efficacy of ingredients to the next level through unique and powerful formulations,” he stated.
Curcumin relieves inflammation, and the dispersion enhances absorption
curcumin (turmeric long) It is an effective multimodal ingredient for use in joint health formulations, but the ingredient’s poor absorption properties have historically limited its potential. This issue is worth addressing, as curcumin has been shown to be a valuable joint health component.
The ingredient may also reduce inflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin production by modulating COX-2 pathway signaling, says Maggie McNamara, MD, director of marketing for Gencor (Irvine, CA).
While curcumin has been a challenging ingredient to formulate, for years suppliers have focused on creating new forms of the ingredient that are more bioavailable. “The main factor limiting the use of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is its poor oral absorption,” says McNamara. She notes that Gencor’s branded HydroCurc ingredient combines curcumin technology with LipiSperse technology designed to “increase the bioavailability and functionality of lipophilic substances.”
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of 500 mg/day Gencor’s HydroCurc on morning joint pain over a two-week period. This study, which has been accepted by an academic journal and is in publication, found that HydroCurc was effective in reducing joint pain. HydroCurc showed statistically significant efficacy relative to baseline starting on day 5. The ingredient also showed a significant difference relative to placebo starting on day 11.
turmeric longa The joint health benefits may be due to Calebin A, a curcuminoid-like compound with anti-inflammatory properties, one company has discovered.
Calpain A inhibits inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6, TNF-alpha, and interferon-gamma, says Mohamed Majeed, Ph. Majeed notes that calpain A has also been found in studies to inhibit osteoclast production, indicating an osteoporotic effect. One in the laboratory study3 conducted by Sapiensa and the University of Texas (Houston) found that Calibin A limits the production of osteoclasts in tumor cells isolated from mice.
“Osteoclasts are responsible for bone destruction,” says Majeed, who was involved in the study. “[This study demonstrated that] Calibin A kills cells that destroy bone.”
In March 2022, Sabinsa launched its brand name CurCousin, a nature-identical Calebin A ingredient standardized at a concentration of 98%. Sapiensa holds 13 patents on Calibin A to protect meniscus, with two other patents pending, and three patents as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
Fast-acting ingredients on the rise
Botanical ingredients continue to attract more of the healthy co-market. As consumers become more sedentary, and the demand for joint health ingredients grows, traditional joint health supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are unable to match consumer expectations, says Shalini Srivastava, Clinical Development Director for Contract Research Organization Vedic Lifesciences (India). Meanwhile, diversification within the consumer base also splits demand between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
Results? “Fast-acting ingredients are appreciated,” Srivastava says. “The demand for plants has increased with the rise of the vegan trend, while the eggshell membrane caters to the needs of carnivores.”
The Common Health Market offers flexibility
Shared Health Ingredients are seeing renewed interest as consumers seek validated products that can help maintain an active lifestyle. While more traditional ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin are on the decline, newer ingredients like curcumin and collagen continue to see strong research investments and a welcome consumer audience. Formulators have ample scope to experiment with new ingredient combinations, enabling brands to capitalize on consumer demand for unique and effective products.
- Sean C and others. “UC-II type II collagen mismatched to knee joint flexibility: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study.” Journal of integrative and complementary medicine vol. 28, no. 6 (June 2022): 540-548
- Jain AV et al. “AflaB2 and osteoarthritis: a multicenter, observational, postmarketing controlled study in Indian patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.. ” International Journal of Research in Orthopedics, vol. 7, no. 1 (January 2021): 110-115
- Tyagi AK et al. “Calebin A regulates osteoclastogenesis through suppression of RANKL signaling. ” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, vol. 593 (March 2016): 80-89
- Krieger K. “Re-growth of cartilage in damaged knee is close to repairing osteoarthritis. ” UConn today. Posted online January 12, 2022.
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