True innovation is hard to pinpoint. Innovation is sometimes more about the frills and attractive features, but sometimes there are truly worthy advancements in research and development.
In the supplements industry, we should distinguish convenience from genuine improvement. The former is more commercial (and often seems more important); the latter takes more effort and serves health long-term.
Recent developments over the last few years have given us both:
- new forms of supplements (granules, powder, drinks, gummies), and a nice alternative to an increasing pile of pills;
- a lot of research on ingredients and delivery mechanisms in supplements.
We will discuss the latter, because it is relevant for common health issues: digestion, immunity, and health of bones and joints. Read on to find out what’s been going on and what these true innovations can do for you.
Astaxanthin: The new Holy Grail of immunity food supplements
Yet, in recent years, there has been a lot of research on a pinkish pigment – Astaxanthin (often shortened to ASX).
It is a red/pink pigment from the class of carotenoids, predominantly found in aquatic cultures (salmon, shellfish and algae). Astaxanthin also gives the pinkish hue to the flamingos’ feathers, and can even be found in propolis.
What is so special about it?
Astaxanthin is hailed as a more natural version of another promising pigment – canthaxanthin. Canthaxanthin is a red keto-carotenoid found in bacteria, algae, and some fungi, but commercial canthaxanthin is often chemically synthesized.
The interest in astaxanthin stems from its potency – astaxanthin is an antioxidant thousands of times stronger than vitamin C.
The comparison doesn’t stop there:
- thousands of times stronger than resveratrol (found in red wine),
- several hundreds times stronger than CoQ10 and green tea catechins,
- and hundreds of times more efficient than Vitamin E.
These promising features of astaxanthin bring many benefits for consumers:
- strong immunity,
- healthy skin,
- cardiovascular health,
- relief of menopausal symptoms and
- improved fertility in men.
There are even studies considering astaxanthin for the treatment of diabetes.
For an in-depth view of astaxanthin, read our blog post here.
Digestive enzymes: The missing links in gut health
Everyone knows about probiotics, right? We take them when we have stomach issues and hope they will miraculously make them go away. Which, sometimes, they do.
But are you familiar with digestive enzymes? They have been around for some time, especially with the rise of veganism and vegetarianism. The general population, however, only recently started paying attention to their role in digestive health.
Digestive enzymes are produced in the pancreas, stomach and small intestine. They break down the three macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Processed foods, lifestyle, age, and genetic factors contribute to the decline of produced enzymes. As the intensity and quantity of digestive enzymes diminish, so does the body’s tolerance and capacity to digest certain foods. This leads to initial problems like allergies, intolerance, indigestion, which can develop into more serious problems: Crohn’s, IBS, dyspepsia, and other digestive issues.
Luckily, pharmacology has given us encapsulated digestive enzymes to keep the digestive tract humming (pleasantly!). This means that you can ingest and supplement the digestive enzymes you need, so your digestive system can do the things it’s supposed to.
Here’s a caveat – there are two problems with many commercial digestive enzymes nowadays:
- not enough variety of digestive enzymes in a supplement,
- inadequate delivery mechanism to the GI tract, which renders them useless.
What do we mean by these?
The industry standard is typically 3-4 digestive enzymes in a supplement. That would be fine if there were only a few enzymes that the body needs. Nevertheless, the number of digestive enzymes is vast, so you could get a supplement that doesn’t fulfil your needs at all.
There are some products in the market – like Enzimax – that contain more enzymes, i.e. 7-8 that are commonly missing.
However, even when you do have in theory all the enzymes, the majority of companies do not take into account the physiology. Digestive enzymes are delicate proteins. The potent hydrochloric acid easily deactivates them.
This means that, even though you invest your money in an adequate supplement, it might be worthless, and won’t solve your digestive issues. If the problem is in the GI tract, the enzymes need to be there to work their magic.
Goodwill Pharma is one of the rare companies that addressed the delivery mechanism issue and invented a double capsule. Enzimax Forte has an inner and an outer capsule, with a total of 8 digestive enzymes. The hydrochloric acid dissolves the outer capsule, and the first batch of enzymes is released. The remaining enzymes move unaffected to the GI tract.
For a detailed overview of digestive enzymes, read the blog post here.
The increasing collagen debt: Supplements cum laude
Collagen traversed a winding path until its vital importance was recognized. It was viewed as an irrelevant protein because it doesn’t contain the amino acid tryptophan.
Science eventually caught up. Collagen is now recognised as the most important protein since it makes up 30% of all proteins in the body.
But, wait, isn’t collagen the thing we put on our face to prevent ageing?
Yes, but, more importantly, collagen proteins provide the scaffolding and the structure for the entire body. They envelop the organs and the muscles, and are a crucial ingredient for cartilage, i.e. healthy, lubricated joints.
Collagen is vital in the prevention and treatment of arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteopenia, osteoporosis. It helps the body remain young and keep moving well into the mature age. Collagen supports athletes, alleviates sports injuries, and promotes a healthy-looking and beautiful appearance.
Unfortunately, as we age, collagen production declines. This leaves us vulnerable to injuries, effects of ageing, and debilitating health challenges like arthritis.
Depending on the source, there are several types of collagen: synthetic, animal-sourced and fish collagen. All of them have their place and may suit your specific lifestyle needs (for example, you might want to choose the fish collagen if you are vegetarian). There are even vegan versions of collagen, derived from yeast and bacteria.
Still, let’s hone in on collagen’s role in cartilage preservation.
Cartilage is a cushion to your joints, and with time, we lose it, which leads to painful rubbing of one bone against the other within a joint.
For collagen to work, you must first have enough vitamin C in the body. It is essential for the production of collagen.
The body collagen works with several other components to preserve the existing cartilage (for example, chondrocytes, which are cells that build cartilage).
However, no collagen can regenerate the lost cartilage.
Here is the innovative part: research on a specific type of animal-sourced collagen has shown great results in the preservation and regeneration of cartilage. The collagen in question is the FORTIGEL collagen.
The studies done on athletes showed remarkable retention of existing cartilage, proven by scans.
The results of any collagen supplement will however depend on the severity, duration and previous treatments of the condition. The initial results with FORTIGEL collagen are the main reason why Goodwill Pharma opted for it in their products, in combination with the abovementioned vitamin C, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine sulfate.
Our products are the latest word in our understanding of cartilage preservation and potential regeneration.
You can learn more about FORTIGEL collagen in the blog post here.
Innovations in food supplements don’t end
Food supplements are constantly changing. We are blessed to live in an era when we can invest in research and versatile, healthier, more efficient solutions.
Better ingredients and delivery mechanisms mean you can better support a healthy and happy life.
And – just in case you were wondering – we also value convenience. The bulk of our products come in the form of powders, granules and gummies. But we prefer to give more space to talk about research and advancements.
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