Most people have joked about having a “senior moment”—perhaps walking into the kitchen for a drink only to forget why they’re there. A brief lapse in memory may seem funny in one’s 20s; in the pre-retirement years and beyond, it could be a hint of cognitive decline.
Natreon’s president, Bruce Brown, said that as people age, “The brain (and body) become less efficient in almost all metabolic processes, including the brain’s utilization of glucose as fuel. When the brain is ‘running on empty,’ all sorts of cognitive functions may decline, including thinking and memory.”
Lisa Riedell, Alfasigma’s senior director of marketing, added, “Occasional lapses in memory are normal in the aging process.” For example, occasionally forgetting the placement of common items like glasses or keys, names of acquaintances or an appointment. In the elderly, she said, frequent instances have the potential to impact quality of life.
Historically, cognitive health ingredients like Ginkgo biloba were market leaders. The market selection has significantly expanded with additional category growth on the horizon. A 2019 Grand View Research report put the global brain health supplements market at US$6 billion in 2018; it’s estimated to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% by 2025. A range of herbal extracts have shown significant benefits in small-scale trials.
“We are seeing a big uptick in interest in nootropics for formulating cognitive-enhancing products,” said James Roza, chief scientific advisor, Layn Natural Ingredients. He explained the term “nootropic" comes from the ancient Greek words νόος (nóos) meaning “mind” and τροπή (tropḗ) meaning “a turning.”
“Science continues to identify and validate botanicals for support of this positive ‘turning of the mind,’” Roza added.
Brenda Fonseca, Kemin’s senior technical services manager, said a growing body of research shows the importance of neurogenesis—the growth of new neurons—for cognitive performance.
“We continue to grow new neurons in specific areas of our brain. We also know that factors such as stress and sleep loss can decrease the rate of new neuron growth, while other factors such as exercise and healthy diet can cause it to increase,” Fonseca explained.
A neuroscientist by training, Orgenetics’ senior vice president of business development, Saumil Maheshvari, said, “The brain is a dynamic organ that we need to ‘feed’ for proper cellular function to help with cognition.”
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Brenda Porter-Rockwell has a diverse background writing about nutraceuticals and healthy foods for a variety of trade and consumer publications, both print and online. She lives in North Carolina and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org