NAI’s CEO: ‘Sports nutrition has been a wonderful place to act as a crucible for our innovation’

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With an established consumer following in the sports nutrition sector and new sustained release form just launched, Natural Alternatives International is looking at opportunities in seniors and military populations for its blockbuster CarnoSyn beta-alanine.

CarnoSyn beta-alanine is a popular ingredient in sports nutrition formulations. The ingredient is backed by 55 studies which show, among other things, that supplementing the body’s beta-alanine stores increased muscle buffering capacity resulted in greater physical working capacity, enhanced endurance and delayed fatigue. NAI also owns a portfolio of 14 patents on CarnoSyn in the United States and 10 in other countries.

Having established the brand among the gym community, the company is now seeing opportunities beyond the workout bench. “There are a significant number of people concerned with sarcopenia, and we believe that CarnoSyn has demonstrated, particularly in its sustained release form, of greatly impacting and reducing the onset of sarcopenia,” Mark LeDoux, founder and CEO of NAI, told us at SupplySide West 2016. “We’ve done two or three clinical studies on that and we continue to do more. That took a considerable amount of investment in innovation and I’m very happy to see it come to the market.”

Awareness of beyond the gym is in its infancy, he said, and part of that is due to the company’s reluctance to say anything until the science was there to support any claims and the lawyers were happy with the IP coverage.

“Sarcopenia is a vast market opportunity. Sports nutrition has been a wonderful place to act as a crucible for our innovation, but when we realize how many people suffer from sarcopenia or exposed with traumatic stress, looking at elite military operations where people are under great periods of stress and seeing the responses we had with, for example, the Israeli defense forces. These are all enormous market potentials for us but we want to do it correctly.”

Sustained release CarnoSyn

NAI recently released a new form of CarnoSyn beta-alanine that offers sustained release. “One of our greatest innovations recently was making sustained release forms of our beta-alanine (SR CarnoSyn) because there were some concerns outside of sports nutrition would be experiencing the occasional paresthesia. In the sports nutrition area people love that experience but outside of sports nutrition, whether its geriatric care or in people with post-traumatic stress that’s not necessarily a welcome attribute.”

“We were looking to make beta-alanine more user friendly for people who don’t want a high-dose response tingle. We really need to get five or six grams of CarnoSyn in you a day over 30 days to build the reservoir of muscle carnosine, which is the dipeptide molecule of beta-alanine and histadine. So we have come up with a very elegant solution, both in powder and tablet form, where people can dose higher without parathesia and thereby achieve their goals far quicker. It’s even more economical from that perspective.”

Innovation in the dietary supplements sector

Some industry stakeholders have lamented that there is less and less innovation within the ingredients sector, but LeDoux did not completely agree with this stance.

“There are not that many new things, but there are new applications of old things, or modifications,” he said. “For example, there has been a lot of innovation in fish oils of late. How to make a product for people who may be sensitive to burping.

Will the NDI situation put a freeze on innovation? “The NDI situation is interesting. It’s an interesting dynamic. They’ve only received roughly 900 new dietary ingredient applications at the agency in the last 20+ years. Considering the number of products that have entered the market place and considering the number of new applications of potentially old things, that’s an alarming number. I think there has been a chilling effect on new submissions because they’re not sure where the agency is going with this.

“NDI is a wake-up call for the industry. I think it’s manageable. I’m not sure even if it’s adopted in its final form if the Agency has enough resources to deal with enforcement.”

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