Dominik Mattern, Associate Director Business Development, Consumer Health and Nutrition, Lonza, reports on next-generation joint health innovation
With today’s ageing population, mobility means much more than just getting from A to B. Maintaining the ability to move around like we always have becomes a top priority for many people as we get older, impacting on overall health and well-being, as well as quality of life for both individuals and their families.
However, mobility is no longer just a concern that affects seniors. Consumers from a variety of generations are now looking for solutions to promote healthy ageing, as well as exploring ways in which peak physical performance can be achieved in the short-term.
Joint health plays a pivotal role in protecting mobility. The cartilage between our joints becomes more susceptible to degradation with time, leading to stiffness, discomfort and, in some cases, osteoarthritis (OA). As holistic approaches to promoting health and well-being become more popular, food supplements are increasingly being seen by consumers as a convenient and effective way to support joint health — independent of age.
Indeed, a survey of supplement users commissioned by Lonza and conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) in Germany, Italy and France found that 76% of Boomers and 69% of Gen X would consider purchasing a joint health product.
However, although demand for joint health supplements continues to increase year-on-year, the value of the category remains relatively flat with a CAGR of just 3.4%. With the UK representing the largest market for joint health products in Europe, the global joint health supplements market was valued at $2.9 billion in 2017 — equivalent to 5.2% of overall dietary supplement sales.
The slow growth of the category can be attributed to a lack of real differentiation in new product launches, especially in those brands aimed at seniors.
These market dynamics have created an opportunity for supplement producers to capitalise on unmet demands for innovative joint health products. An example of an area that is ripe with potential is the active nutrition space. Sport can put exaggerated stress on the joints, which may result in damage to the cartilage. With activities such as high intensity workouts becoming more popular, joint health solutions are of increasing relevance to this demographic.
For supplement producers looking to bring new products to market, the selection of the right ingredient or combination of ingredients for a formulation is crucial. In fact, the Lonza/NMI study found that, despite nuances between age groups and regions, safety and quality were the top two overriding concerns among the consumers surveyed.
With a wide variety of choice available, it is no surprise that shoppers expect optimal results from the products that they purchase. Here, it is important for manufacturers to look for ingredients that are supported by multiple clinical studies, such as Lonza’s UC-II undenatured type II collagen.
The innovative ingredient is clinically proven to support joint comfort, flexibility and mobility, and is efficacious at a dose of as little as 40 mg, once per day, enabling consumers to remain active and maintain joint health for longer.
Lonza’s UC-II ingredient has a unique mode of action that has been shown to initiate cell-signalling cascades that use the body’s natural repair mechanisms in the joints — and therefore plays a role in supporting the rebuilding of cartilage. But how exactly does UC-II undenatured type II collagen support the mobility of knee joints?
When taken orally, it is hypothesised that the intact type II collagen reaches specialised lymphoid follicles found in portions of the small intestine. These areas are known as Peyer’s Patches and form a part of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue.
Studies propose that, once the UC-II undenatured type II collagen makes contact with the Peyer’s Patches, it starts interacting with the immune system. The interaction is with a special class of cell, called a regulatory T-cell, which goes on to produce several regulatory molecules that are transported by the body to the joint.
Upon arrival at the joint, these regulatory molecules, called cytokines, induce knee joint resident chondrocytes to begin producing more type II collagen and other constituents that make up the structural matrix of the knee joint.
A significant body of research has shown the ability of Lonza’s UC-II ingredient to support joint health. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, for instance, found that a daily dose of 40 mg of UC-II undenatured type II collagen could support joint comfort in healthy, active adult subjects, regardless of their age group.
UC-II undenatured type II collagen has also been shown to help improve joint comfort, mobility and flexibility in people with OA, and is statistically significantly more effective than the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin, as measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).1,2
The performance and consumer appeal of the UC-II undenatured type II collagen can be further optimised through the choice of delivery system. Capsules are a preferred dosage form for the UC-II ingredient, as they enable the safe and secure containment of the undenatured type II collagen — in addition to being easier for consumers to swallow.
For example, Lonza’s next-generation Capsugel Vcaps Plus capsules can be used to deliver the required 40 mg daily dose of the UC-II ingredient in a convenient size 3 capsule.
Thanks to advances in dosage form technologies, it is now also possible to combine Lonza’s UC-II undenatured type II collagen with other trending ingredients in the joint health space, including highly bioavailable curcumin formulations.
With Lonza’s Capsugel DUOCAP capsule-in-capsule technology, a small dose of the UC-II ingredient is contained in the inner capsule whereas the curcumin, equal to multiple intakes of a standard dose of curcumin, is delivered in the outer capsule. This enables individuals to benefit from two ingredients in a single capsule, further boosting product appeal in the eyes of the consumer searching for innovation in the joint health space. Vitamins C and D can also be delivered alongside the UC-II ingredient in Lonza’s Vcaps Plus capsules to meet EFSA health claims on joint health.
As demand for joint health products continues to increase, the unique mode of action and small daily dose of UC-II undenatured type II collagen, in addition to the formulation potential of Lonza’s Capsugel portfolio of capsules and dosage forms, offers producers new opportunities to drive innovation and ensure products stand out from the crowd.
This article features in the May/June issue of Nutraceutical Business Review. The previous edition is available online here.