Just earlier this month, one company selling dietary supplements was involved in a voluntary recall after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Salmonella during a routine sample testing of the dietary supplement. The dietary supplement contained kratom, a stimulant. The FDA also warned consumers about the common symptoms of Salmonella infection, which includes vomiting and nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever.
This highlights one of the main reasons why many people are ambivalent about taking dietary supplements. The first question that comes to mind is always about health safety. Consumers are concerned about whether the supplement is safe to ingest and if there are any side effects and contraindications. Despite this, the nutraceutical industry is still expecting significant growth, this year and in the coming years.
Significant Increase In Supplements Usage
According to the Hartman Group, one of the thought leaders in the food industry, supplements are playing a major role in how many consumers address their health and wellness needs. Here are some interesting trends based on the research and consulting company’s analysis:
♦ Between 2013 to 2017, usage of any supplement increased by 7%, from 59% to 66%
♦ A similar trend is seen in the usage of vitamins or minerals supplement which rose from 51% to 57% from 2013 to 2017
♦ From 2013 to 2017, usage of specialty supplements grew by 5% from 25% to 30%
Specialty supplements are those that are formulated to address a specific bodily function or health concern, such as omega-3 supplements, antioxidant supplements, or immune system supplements. Brain health supplements are also one type of specialty supplements.
Brain Health Supplements To Boost Growth Of Nutraceuticals Industry
The market for brain health supplements is currently valued at more than $2 billion. However, this number is estimated to balloon to more than $11 billion by 2024. As the awareness for healthy aging grows, more and more consumers are getting interested in enhancing and protecting their brain health.
Supplements that enhance brain health and cognitive function are generally called nootropic supplements. Consumers are taking nootropics not only to enhance their memory but also to improve their focus and attention, to be able to sleep better, and for longevity and anti-aging benefits. There are also brain health supplements that are touted to improve your mood, decrease stress and anxiety. And some are even promoted as stimulants for creativity.
Common ingredients found in brain health supplements include ginseng, DHA, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Bacopa monnieri, and Alpha-glycerophosphocholine or Alpha GPC. The latter is currently considered as the top-selling nootropic ingredient. Between now and 2024, Bacopa monnieri, also called water hyssop, is the one expected to grow the most in terms of market share.
Proper Nutrition For Brain Health
Depending on which expert you’ll ask, you may be given various advice for which type of food is the best in enhancing and protecting brain health. However, all the experts would agree that there is no single “best brain food”. Our brain has so many functions that it requires various nutrients to properly function. Indeed, eating the right diet goes a long way in helping our brains function better.
Although many of the nutrients needed by the brain can be taken directly from the food we eat, there are times when we need to take supplements. This is to make sure that we get the recommended amount of nutrients that we need to eat daily to keep our brain healthy.
Here are some examples of nutrients that are extremely important for proper brain functioning and are commonly found in many brain health supplements.
Choline and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
These two are extremely important during fetal development. They will affect how the baby’s memory and cognitive function will develop in the future. Specifically, these two help in the formation of the cell membranes of the neurons. In adults, choline is essential for memory and mental focus.
This is another compound that plays a crucial role when it comes to the development of the neural tube, the structure that is the foundation for the development of the brain and the spinal cord. Thus, any deficiencies in folic acid may lead to problems with the development of the neural tube, which can then lead to congenital abnormalities.
Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA)
GABA is important for proper stress response functioning. GABA actually functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Stress is often associated with lack of mental focus or being scatterbrained and absent-mindedness.
This is doesn’t mean that your brain has stopped working because you’re stressed. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Stress makes the brain very busy, which is why you have so many thoughts jumbled in your head at once. GABA tells your neurons to stop being too excited so you can calm down and relax.
Polyphenols and Flavonoids
Polyphenols are micronutrients found in plant-based foods and flavonoids are just one of the many types of polyphenols. Both have antioxidant properties that help protect the brain from the damaging actions of free radicals. These antioxidants also protect the brain from inflammation, promote the health of blood vessels, as well as boost immunity.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein is normally associated with eye health, however, it is good for brain health, too. In recent studies, lutein was shown to result in youthful neural responses. To keep your brain young, you now have more reasons to eat green leafy vegetables which are great sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid also found in the retina. Just like lutein, it also helps in both eye and brain health.
Many people know of turmeric only as a spice. However, turmeric is gaining popularity as an ingredient in many herbal products these days. One of the main active constituents that make turmeric valuable as a medicinal plant is curcumin. It’s a phytonutrient that is credited for turmeric’s brain-protective properties. Aside from being good for brain health, turmeric is also highly recommended for people with arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also has antioxidant properties and it’s good for your cardiovascular health, too.