Taking a natural approach to sports nutrition

Indena has long been involved in the field of sports nutrition and some of its ingredients have shown remarkable results in human trials

The World Health Organization defines “physical activity” as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.

Regular physical activity improves health and, therefore, our overall quality of life: at all ages, some physical activity is better than none. Sports nutrition plays a central role in managing effective physical activity as what we eat fundamentally affects our performance.1

An innovative CoQ10 formulation

The latest news in sports nutrition is Ubiqsome, an innovative formulation of coenzyme Q10. Ubiqsome is based on Indena’s Phytosome delivery system and has been designed to optimise CoQ10 bioavailability. Coenzyme Q10 plays a central role in the generation and regulation of cell bioenergy, being involved in transferring of electrons within the mitochondrial oxidative respiratory chain and hence, ATP production. It is reported to have antioxidant and beneficial effects in terms of optimising human health and well-being.

Bioavailable, industrially available and standardised to contain not less than 20% CoQ10, Ubiqsome — thanks to the 100% food-grade Phytosome delivery system — has been demonstrated to optimise both plasmatic and muscular levels of coenzyme Q10 and to be linked to benefits in healthy athletes.

The scientifically demonstrated increase of CoQ10 at the muscular level represents a unique and successful goal that unequivocally differentiates Ubiqsome from other ingredients and optimises its potential beneficial effects in physical stress conditions such as sport activity.

Curcuminoids for effective sports nutrition

Edible plants continue to be a primary source of valuable substances with the ability to maintain overall well-being and, as a consequence, enrich sports nutrition.

One of the botanical products that can be effectively added to dietary regimens is turmeric: it’s a member of the ginger family and contains three different molecules — curcumin, demethoxycurcumin (DMC) and bis-demethoxy-curcumin — with different chemical traits that work together to achieve an outstanding range of beneficial health effects.

Meriva (Curcuma longa) is a uniquely deliverable form of curcumin that’s “designed from nature.” It contains all three curcuminoids in the same proportions as found in nature and it is the formulation with the highest plasmatic levels of DMC (the most potent curcuminoid).

The efficacy of Indena’s specific curcumin formulation in sports nutrition is supported by human studies, demonstrating how it could be effective for joint health and a healthy inflammatory response after exercise in different sports — even intense activities such as rugby and cycling — through the modulation of oxidative stress and proinflammatory cytokine homeostasis.2,3

Moreover, Meriva has also been shown to optimise physical strength and performance in healthy subjects, helping to maintain muscular mass.4

Caring for stressed joints and muscles

Boswellic acids are the main bioactive constituents of frankincense, a traditional remedy used in Indian, Chinese and African folk medicine. A number of studies support the rationale for the use of Boswellia serrata extract (BSE) for the well-being of the musculoskeletal system, thanks to the inhibition of molecular mechanisms underlying unfavourable conditions.

Casperome (Boswellia serrata Phytosome) is inspired by modern pharmacological research on Boswellia, which highlights the relevance of the whole bouquet of triterpenoid acids and the optimisation of their absorption. Casperome supports the potential of Boswellia use in sports nutrition.

Initial human research on elite young rugby players showed that Casperome supplementation represents an efficient, safe and integrated approach to the challenging conditions that rugby players’ joints face. During a treadmill test, supplemented subjects had lower physiological concentrations of inflammation biomarkers and showed increased walking distances without discomfort.5

The latest published trial showed the effectiveness of Casperome supplementation in maintaining normal ankle functionality after intense exercise, suggesting a potentially beneficial role in relieving the discomfort associated with sport activities.6

Sports endurance

Another product that has demonstrated efficacy in sports supplementation is Quercefit (Sophora japonica), Indena’s Quercetin Phytosome, an innovative formulation of the flavonoid quercetin based on Indena’s proprietary Phytosome delivery system. A recent open registry study with 30 non-professional individuals who completed a triathlon (swim 750 m + cycle 20 km + run 5 Km) showed that Quercefit is effective in optimising sport endurance.7

In each single triathlon test (swimming, biking, running) individuals supplemented with Quercefit experienced favourable results and reduced triathlon times (–10.6%) compared with the control group (–2.4%) after 14 days of oral supplementation.

Quercefit supplementation maintained optimal well-being during the event and also showed strong antioxidant activity: levels of oxidative stress (PFR) 1 hour after the final run were higher in control subjects (p<0.05), which have been associated with a delayed recovery times owing to fatigue.

Ginkgo biloba: cognitive benefits

Nowadays, Ginkgo biloba represents one of the most popular botanical derivatives used to alleviate symptoms related to a range of mental conditions, as well as cognitive performance in both healthy older and young adults.

Virtiva, Indena’s standardised extract of Ginkgo biloba (GBE) with phosphatidylserine, when supplied to healthy young people, significantly optimised secondary memory and speed-of-memory task performance owing to the potential maintenance of the cognitive effects associated with a low dose of GBE.8

It is known that intense physical activity and stress are associated with the increased secretion of cortisol, which inhibits the production of eicosanoids and leads to muscle loss and bone demineralisation. Backed by human studies, Virtiva’s sports nutrition potential derives from its ability to maintain physiological levels of cortisol during training, suggesting a beneficial effect on stress-induced performance.

Human data in elite female volleyball players demonstrated that the prolonged administration of Virtiva (8-week training schedule) led to the baseline maintenance of two plasma stress markers near (increased plasma cortisol and decreased free fat mass) and optimised performance.9

Healthy digestion and physical activity

The digestive system is a complex part of the body, designed to retain nutrients and eliminate waste: consequently, if digestion is difficult or compromised, overall health is compromised. It has become increasingly clear that gut health may also affect sports performance.

Prodigest is Indena’s latest innovation for natural digestive well-being. Capitalising on the synergy between artichoke and ginger extracts, Prodigest is a patented combination of two standardised ingredients: a unique extract of artichoke leaves (Cynara cardunculus L.) and a lipophilic CO2 extract of ginger roots (Zingiber officinale Rosc.).

For the development of Prodigest, Indena remodelled these two well-known extracts to create a product that is backed by exhaustive human data regarding both its functionality (gastric emptying) and effectiveness (digestive well-being).10,11

The combination end product has been proven to be more effective than the two single extracts; thus, Prodigest is a good example of how an innovative approach supported by a strong scientific background may lead to a pioneering solution. With such a wide variety of products suitable dedicated to the sports nutrition market, Indena is positioning itself as a reliable source of sector-specific ingredients.


  1. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en.
  2. F. Di Pierro, et al., Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 21, 4935–4940 (2017).
  3. J.N. Sciberras, et al., J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 12(1), 5 (2015).
  4. F. Drobnic, et al., J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 11, 31 (2014).
  5. F. Franceschi, et al., Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 20, 4156–4161 (2016).
  6. B. Feragalli, et al., Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 21, 4726–4732 (2017).
  7. A. Riva, et al., Minerva Medica 109(4), 285–289 (2018).
  8. D.O. Kennedy, et al., Hum. Psychopharmacol. 22(4), 199–210 (2007).
  9. F. Di Pierro, et al., Minerva Ortopedica e Traumatologica 67(3), 119–123 (2016).
  10. A. Giacosa, et al., Evidence Based-Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2015): http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/915087.
  11. S. Lazzini, et al., Eur. Rev. Med. Pharmacol. Sci. 20, 146–149 (2016).