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Experts highlight R&D in dietary supplement and nutra to control aging
Saturday, 15 March, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
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Global research and development (R&D) labs are now focussing on the development of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals that could keep aging cells at bay.  

Although the consumption of red and orange fruits is seen to be as beneficial as that of green leafy vegetables, and Gac fruit is a great source of lycopene. But people are not seen to consume these on a regular basis.

This has led global nutraceutical companies like Amway to enhance their research investments and develop products to control cell aging.

A panel of experts highlighted the R&D innovations in functional foods and dietary supplements at the Ninth Nutra India Summit, which concluded in Bengaluru on Friday.

The session was chaired by Dr D B A Narayana, chairman, Herbal Products Committee, Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC).

Dr Deepa Shenoy, senior research scientist, open innovation, Amway Global R&D, USA, led the discussion on the topic, ‘A 360º Approach to Innovating Functional Foods And Dietary Supplements for the Healthy Aging Consumer’.

She stated that there has been considerable focus on the research of nutraceutical products.

Although Amway’s first product was detergents, and it gradually expanded to offer  numerous health products and dietary supplements.

Currently, almost 50 per cent of Amway’s global business is driven out of nutrition products such as protein powder and other health supplements. Amway's science and technology has a worldwide presence.

Amway's has invested $81 million in a production plant for pharma and nutraceutical tablets. The company, which produces protein at this facility under the brand name Nutralite, has a range of options for optimum health.

“We are designing a protein food for health benefits like aging of skin and muscle. The product is a protein for the protection of skeletal muscle which approximately comprises for about 42-50 per cent of the total body mass,” she said.

“The aging disease, referred to as sarcopenia, is caused due to the loss of muscle under the skin which can be controlled by correcting nutritional habits, aiding metabolism and altering lifestyle of an individual,” stated Dr Shenoy.

“The intake of a protein-rich diet improves muscle mass that significantly improves cell proliferation under the skin that gradually helps to cure/improve the condition. We need to look at the problem scientifically and understand the problem only then able to find a solution,” she added.

Speaking on nutrition and human cell growth (the new frontier for new products), Prof Dr Helmut Weidlich, chairman, Institut Prof Dr Georg Kurz GmbH, Germany, said that one of the steps to tackle aging in cellular level was to make the cell fight by itself against any harmful substance like virus or other protein substances.

Cell debris and other undesired cell growth should be prevented and to suppress the mutation at a cellular level.

“It is possible for the human body to generate new cells naturally by making alterations at the cellular level with minute alterations. The food that helps cell proliferation is a chemical compound known as caratinocyte which helps in rejuvenating the skin cells,” Dr Weidlich said.

“There is need to increase the consumption of red and orange fruit or those that are in the  citrus category. Further, amino acid found in beverages like green tea can help in cell proliferation and prevent aging,” he added.

“In the coming years, there would be software solutions to predict which particular compound can help a cell and this helps to devise a formula to come up with new and better solutions for the benefit of all,” Dr Weidlich stated.

Dr Priti Vaidyanathan, senior manager, technical service, Sami Labs Ltd, said that the company has commenced the cultivation of Gac fruit (whose botanical name is momordica cochinchinensi), which has adapted positively to the Indian soil conditions.

This plant is part of the cucurbitacae family, commonly known as baby jackfruit. The pulp of the fruit is very rich in fatty acids that aid in the absorption of caratenoids.

Gac fruit contains lycopene which is an amino acid. This content is 70 times more than that of tomatoes. In humans, absorption of lycopene is in the liver and kidneys among other glands.

Now, lycopene is that it is an anti-cancer agent, and is beneficial to treat different types of this disease. In addition, it is also acts as an antioxidant and use to treat osteoporosis.

However, factors affecting the absorption of lycopene in humans include aging, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Therefore, in order to prevent many aging and age-related disorders, it is vital to include red and orange vegetables along with green leafy varieties.


Integrated approach & ethical marketing critical for nutra: Dr Prakash
Integrated approach and ethical marketing are critical to the success of the nutraceutical industry.

This was stated by Dr V Prakash, distinguished scientist, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) India; vice-president, International Union of Nutritional Science (IUNS), director, research and development (R&D) and innovation, JSS MVP, Mysore, and chairman, Ninth Nutra India Summit.

“Advanced science is the key for business safety in the field of nutrition and food industry. The phase from concept to product development of nutraceuticals is complicated, because of the lack of defined regulations which makes these products difficult to be approved,” he said.

“Therefore, the Indian nutraceutical industry needs to adopt an integrated strategy and ethical marketing route to ensure high-quality systems are in place,” said Dr Prakash.

Speaking on the topic, ‘The Sculptured Future of Health through Nutra with the Background of 5,000 years of Rich Epidemiology in India,’ he said that there were 12 key technology areas globally, and in this space the pharmaceutical sector topped with 23 per cent, followed by computer technology with 15 per cent.

The market for nutraceuticals could increase only with a rise in standard of living in India, as this was the main potential to drive the growth. The R&D investments in nutraceuticals are poised to touch $400 million by 2025, which would be key to industrial growth.

“An integrated approach is the key to success, and ethical marketing is critical in nutraceutical industry,” he stated.  

In August 2011, the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, which came into effect five years after it was passed in Parliament, subsumed various central Acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954; the Fruit Products Order (FPO), 1955; the Meat Food Products Order, 1973; the Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947; the Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order of 1988; the Solvent Extracted Oil, De- Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967; the Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992, and any order issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 relating to food. It would ensure prevention of fraudulent, deceptive or unfair trade practices which may mislead or harm the consumer, and unsafe, contaminated or sub-standard food.

“This law will give a fillip to the nutraceutical industry, because prebiotic food, probiotic food, novel food, unani, ayurveda and siddha also come under its purview. The approval of products is a complex process, and there are hundreds of brands of vitamin with biotin, where some are below the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) range, some are above the RDA range and some which are equal to the RDA range. We need to have some new standards and refine the approval process,” Dr Prakash said.

He added that customer acceptance and safety are more important than the profit of the industry. The infrastructure should match the market for the supply of the raw materials and the Ayur-nutraceutical industry is a $300-million-market, and is a growing sector.
 
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