Energy Crisis: Naturally Fueling Americans

Alissa Marrapodi

December 17, 2010

17 Min Read
Energy Crisis: Naturally Fueling Americans

The fast life is getting faster as Americans do their best to juggle work, school and play, while living active, healthy lifestyles. No longer are energy products just geared at sport nutrition; its trickled into all age groups. From the sleepy secretary with 3 p.m.-after-lunch lethargy to the student at late-night study sessions and the mom waking up for early-morning soccer games, Americans are running for the shelves looking for any energy boost they can find.
The energy markets heart is beating almost as fast as the speedy Americans is. SPINS reported (52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2010) the energy drink and energy shot markets in the natural channel (excluding Whole Foods) are currently worth $6,803,607 and $ 1,328,767, respectively; in the conventional channel (food/drug/mass excluding Wal-Mart), they come in at $91,240,031 and $3,700,805, respectively. In the natural channel, energy drinks experienced a 16.6-percent increase in sales from a year ago; and energy shots skyrocketed with a 60.5-percent increase in sales in the past year. In the conventional market, energy drinks are up 4.1 percent from the previous year, and energy shots are up 57 percent from the previous year.
Theres no question that energy shots continue to be the biggest trend in energy drinks, said Bob Green, president, Nutratech.
Nena Dockery, scientific and regulatory affairs manager, National Enzyme Co., also acknowledged the popularity of energy shots, but feels it may wane. Energy shots are still popular, but may have peaked as far as new product introduction because of market saturation, she said. Beverages will probably continue to be popular as they provide a hidden energy-producing benefitwater. Dehydration is a strong and often overlooked contributor to energy loss.
However, even though sales, with a focus on energy shots, are up, consumers are still hesitating when purchasing energy products. Mintel reported a 136-percent increase in sales from 2005 to 2009 in the energy drinks/shots market; however, manufacturers are having difficulties attracting new customers. A total of 74 percent of those surveyed say they dont consume energy drinks/shots, and 69 percent of those non-users are not interested in trying them. Mintels Global Market Navigator (GMN) found Americans consume 3.05 L of energy drinks per capita each year, but energy drink market penetration remained flat at 15 percent of all adults aged 18 and older during 2007 to 2009.
If sales are up, whats up with consumers? What is their hesitation with the current energy products on the market? According to Mintel, energy drinks/shots non-users cited high prices (48 percent), too much caffeine (43 percent) and a general feeling that energy drinks/shots just arent good for you (43 percent) as reasons why they have not consumed any in the past three months. Sixteen percent of energy drink non-users and 14 percent of energy shots non-users stated they would be encouraged to try an energy drink or shot if free samples were offered at a store where they usually shop. Meanwhile, 14 percent of non-users would be more likely to try energy drinks (11 percent for energy shots) if they had natural ingredients.
Are consumers concerned with whats in their energy shot? Or are they just interested in the end results, such as, does it make me feel alert? Does it keep me awake while a pull an all-nighter studying for finals? Does it give me the jitters and make me feel sick to my stomach? Consumers are primarily concerned with end results, Green said. Does the product work? If it doesnt increase energy, they wont go back for seconds. Its up to manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to educate their customers about why and how products work.
Dockery agreed, noting most consumers aim to avoid negative aftereffects. Most of us do not like the jittery feeling that is a side effect of some energy products, she said. We want to feel alert, rested and energetic, without being queasy or shaky.
Oftentimes, whether the consumer is focused on the ingredients or the end result is dependent on why theyre buying the boost. So, why are consumers buying energy drinks? Mintel reported 17 percent of energy drink users (80 percent of energy shot users) consume them for an energy boost, 57 percent of energy drink users employ them to stay awake and 60 percent of energy shot users said they drink them for mental alertness. The important thing is theyre buying.


Red Bull. Those two words have sparked quite a controversy in the beverage sector. Many countries have banned Red Bull, while many college students swear by its ability to help them pass their finals or run a marathon. In fact, some studies tout Red Bull for its ability to improve aerobic and anaerobic performance during exercise, and significantly improve mental performance, including concentration and memory.1 Other studies question its negative effects on heart health due to its increased risk for blood clots and alterations in subjects cardiovascular profile similar to that of someone with heart disease.2 But no matter its pros and cons, consumers love Red Bull and the energy it supplies. One of its main ingredients, as with many energy drinks is caffeine.
There are individuals who have a negative view toward caffeine because of its addictive capability and effects on blood pressure in some people, Dockery said. However, much of the current health-related research regarding caffeine is actually positive. The same can be said for most ingredients, and often the negative attributes are only at very high levels or in sensitive individuals.
Caffeine has many faces. But contrary to common belief, caffeine isnt bad. Sure, it has its downsides in excess amounts, but its actually linked to many positives. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) found when caffeine is used in moderation for enhanced athletic performance, athletes can bolster their performance, provided they use caffeine responsibly and are mindful of possible side effects.3 The organization released a 43-page position statement in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition detailing the performance-enhancing effects of caffeine and certain common misconceptions. Some of the highlights included: caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages (~3-6 mg/kg); caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous state as compared to coffee; caffeine has been shown to enhance vigilance during bouts of extended exhaustive exercise, as well as periods of sustained sleep deprivation; caffeine is ergogenic for sustained maximal endurance exercise and has been shown to be highly effective for time-trial performance; and caffeine supplementation is beneficial for high-intensity exercise.
Green tea is another popular source of energy. Its a natural source of caffeine, but, more than that, green tea is positively associated with weight management, diabetes, and heart and breast health. One study examined the effects of a catechin-rich green tea extract (GTE) on running endurance and energy metabolism during exercise in BALB/c mice.4 Running times to exhaustion in mice fed 0.5 percent GTE were 30-percent higher than in exercise-control mice, and were accompanied by a lower respiratory exchange ratio, higher muscle beta-oxidation activity and lower malonyl-CoA content. In addition, muscle glycogen content was high in the GTE group compared with the exercise-control group. Plasma lactate concentrations in GTE-fed mice were significantly lower after exercise, along with an increase in free fatty acid concentrations.
An amino acid derived from green tea has been suggested as a natural method to offset the negative jitters of caffeine is L-theanine. Companies such as Blue California created L-TeaActive, produced from green tea leaves and other natural ingredients using a proprietary manufacturing process. Scientific evidence, for example, confirms L-theanine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves increasing mental and physical relaxation without drowsiness. In a Dutch study, the combination of moderate levels of L-theanine and caffeine significantly improved accuracy during task switching and self-reported alertness and reduced self-reported tiredness in 44 adults administered 97 mg of L-theanine in combination with 40 mg of caffeine.5
Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) is a popular botanical used to induce thermogenesis and reduce the strenuousness of exercise. In a three-arm, double blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, exercise was less strenuous 83 percent of the time when supplemented with a product containing Citrus aurantium.6 Ten healthy adults, aged 20 to 31 years old, ingested one dose of a dietary supplement containing 21 mg of Citrus aurantium (as Advantra Z®, from Nutratech Inc.) and 304 mg of caffeine (dietary supplement as Ripped Fuel Extreme Cut®, from TwinLab) while resting and one hour prior to moderately intense exercise or a placebo/exercise control. In a study out of West Sussex, England, sedentary males who consumed a combination of Advantra Z, green tea and guarana had increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) at rest and during a treadmill test.7

Angling Your Energy Approach

Traditionally, energy is thought of as physical; but there are many different types of energy. Most people only think about physical energy when you say the word energy, said Karen E. Todd, R.D., director of marketing at Kyowa Hakko USA. However, mental energy is an equally important concept.
Additionally, there are several factors that play into fueling the bodyfrom digestion and weight management to mental alertness and energy metabolism via B vitamins or amino acids, versus stimulation via caffeine. Of course you have the energy boosting products that usually contain caffeine and sugar, but we are now seeing multiple products for weight management or blood sugar control touting energy as a benefit or making the link between wellness and energy, said Paul Dijkstra, CEO, InterHealth Nutraceuticals.
Supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a lipid-solid antioxidant found in every cell, provide energy on the cellular level, as it plays a key role in the production of ATP. In a nutshell, the body hosts two types of cells: eukaryotic and prokaryotic. Eukaryotic cells are typically 10 times the size of prokaryotic cells. They contain a membrane; a cell nucleus; and organelles, different compartments of a cell. Mitochondrion is an organelle found in most eukaryotic cells that provides cellular energy. One of its main purposes is to oxidize the products of cytoplasmic metabolism to generate ATP, which basically serves as a shuttle, delivering energy where need be. A review published in Advances in Anti-Aging Medicine said, This compound plays a key enzymatic role in energy production within mitochondria.8 A Japanese study orally administered 100 or 300 mg/d of CoQ10 to healthy adults for one week prior to a workload trial.9 Researchers found CoQ10 improved subjective fatigue and physical performance. An additional Japanese study found CoQ10 reduced exercise-induced muscular injury, possibly due to its antioxidant effects;10 and a separate study reported CoQ10 supplementation increased muscle CoQ10 concentration and lowered serum superoxide dismutase (SOD) oxidative stress, while also increasing plasma CoQ10 concentrations and time to exercise exhaustion.11
D-ribose, a naturally occurring pentose carbohydrate, is another component of ATP. It enhances high-energy phosphates and improves diastolic dysfunction following myocardial ischemia, according to research presented at a 2005 meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America. In the two-center study, researchers administered 5g/d ribose (as CORvalen, from Bioenergy) to 23 congestive heart failure (CHF) patients ranked in New York Heart Association (NYHA) Classes II-IV. After eight weeks of supplementation, D-ribose significantly improved ventilatory efficiency in patient Classes III and IV, with a trend toward improvement in Class II patients. Oxygen uptake efficiency demonstrated a strong trend in Classes III and IV.
As cardiologists know, CHF patients have decreased levels of myocardial high-energy compounds contributing to myocardial dysfunction, said John St. Cyr, M.D., Ph.D., medical director for Bioenergy Inc., which helped organize the study. Further, advanced class CHF patients have compromised oxygen utilization efficiency, or ventilatory efficiency. This limits their exercise reserve even during sub-maximal exertion. After using D-ribose for eight weeks the patients in this study demonstrated a significant improvement in Veff, the most powerful predictor of survival in CHF patients.
Amino acids and B vitamins also play a role in energy metabolism. L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid. It helps to metabolize lipids, which, in turn, helps the production of cellular energy. Studies have demonstrated L-carnitines efficiency to increase fat oxidation;12 L-carnitine and L-tartrates ability to reduce muscle oxygenation, attenuate membrane damage and hypoxic stress;13 and L-carnitine and L-tartrates ability to assist in recovery from exercise stress.14 A few of the Bsthiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), panthothenic acid (B5), biotin (B7), pyridoxal (B6) and cobalamin (B12)play an essential role in maintaining mitochondrial function.15 In a Japanese study, researchers concluded, The unusual accumulation of methylmalonic acid caused by vitamin B12 deficiency disrupts normal glucose and glutamic acid metabolism in rat liver, probably by inhibiting the Krebs cycle.16 Australian researchers also determined niacin may improve carbohydrate metabolism during cycling in women who are unaccustomed to exercise.17
Mental energy is just as important as physical energy, and it, too, relates to ATP. Cognizin® increases mental energy (ATP), which helps to sharpen ones ability to focus and improve concentration, she said. Because of this, Cognizin can be helpful in a number ways ranging from a 20-year-old studying for an exam, a 45- year-old working a 60-hour workweek, or a 70-year-old wanting to sharpen their brain. This mental energy use can also be taken from the office to the field and apply in all areas of sports performance. The phrase its all in your head means more than we think it does. It really is all in our heads and improving ones mental focus should not be taken for granted. Cognizin, a citicoline supplement, may help to mitigate cognitive declines associated with aging by increasing energy reserves and utilization, as well as increasing the amount of essential phospholipid membrane components needed to synthesize and maintain cell membranes, according to a study conducted at the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, McLean Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA.18

Since the food we eat is what fuels the bodys energycarbohydrates are converted into glucose, fats are converted into glycerol and fatty acids and proteins are broken down into amino acidsits no wonder digestion, healthy weight and nutrient bioavailability are vital for energy production. Once carbs, fats, fatty acids and proteins are in the cells, nutrients are transformed into ATP through the Krebs cycle and ATP redistributes energy to other cellular processes; therefore, digestive enzymes that enhance the absorption of nutrients, probiotics that aid digestion and supplements that help manage weight are important in the quest for energy. Oftentimes, consumers lethargic descend into the afternoon is a result of food ineffectively being broken down. When food is efficiently broken down, less energy is consumed in the digestive process, contributing to overall energy gain, Dockery said, noting formulating with digestive enzymes or probiotics can help maximize the benefits of foods by increasing the bioavailability of nutrients and assisting in digestion.
Digestion goes hand-in-hand with weight management; and weight management is another key to staying energized. Consumers are increasingly becoming interested in energy benefits beyond the instantaneous pick-me-up, Dijkstra said. They are starting to see a connection between improving their health and increasing their energy levels. For instance, InterHealths Super CitriMax® has been shown to increase satiety, reduce calorie intake and increase weight loss. Being able to control hunger is a powerful thing. It not only affects weight management, but daily life. Controlling your hunger allows you to concentrate on more important things and get the most out of your day. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight ultimately gives you more energy and provides greater overall well-being.

Sportin it

Going back to its roots, the energy market originally gained its popularity with athletes; and even though it has expanded to much more than the die-hard athlete, exercise and energy still go hand-in-hand. A key component in maintaining energy is being active and being able to participate in the sports or activities you love, Dijkstra said. Retaining this energy level and physical function with age is extremely important and can greatly affect the quality of life.
Athletes love their energy; and they seem to like getting through fortified beverages. Mintel reported consumers that use energy drinks/shot for enhanced sports performance are more likely to use energy shots (30 percent) than energy drinks (23 percent). A 2010 study confirmed the use of energy drinks as a source of fuel. Researchers out of Oklahoma found consuming a low-calorie energy drink may improve physiological adaptations to strength training.19
With aging, nutritional support is increasingly important for building and maintaining muscle strength and muscle endurance, Dijkstra added. InterHealths ZMA® supplies nutrients that can help the consumer build and maintain muscle strength and muscle endurance with age. Isotonic sport drinks and supplements that help replenish nutrients and provide endurance for both athletes and Baby Boomers alike are certainly important parts of the energy category. In fact, in a double blind, randomized study, muscle attributes and selected blood hormones of football players were assessed in response to a nightly supplementation regimen during spring football, over an eight-week period, with pre-post measures, in which, 12 subjects were administered ZMA (30 mg zinc monomethionine aspartate, 450 mg magnesium aspartate and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6) and 15 subjects a placebo.20 Free testosterone increased with ZMA (132.1 to 176.3 pg/mL) compared to placebo (141.0 to 126.6 pg/mL); andIGF-I increased in the ZMA group (424.2 to 439.3 ng/mL) and decreased in placebo group (437.3 to 343.3 ng/mL) (P<0.001). Researchers said the results demonstrated the efficacy of a ZMA preparation on muscle attributes and selected hormones in strength-trained, competitive athletes.
No matter the reason or the vehicle for needed energy, consumers are running low on fuel, and theyre looking to the natural products industry to fill them up with long-lasting, sustainable energy that isnt going to send them on a roller coaster ride or the cardiovascular profile of someone with heart disease.

References are on the next page...

References for Energy Crisis: Naturally Fueling Americans

Energy References:

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3.       Erica R Goldstein et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance J Inter Society Sports Nutr.2010, 7:5

  1. Abdul G Dulloo et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1040-45

5.       Giesbrecht T et al. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness Nutr Neurosci. 2010;13(6):283-90

6.       Haller CA et al. Human pharmacology of a performance-enhancing dietary supplement under resting and exercise conditions. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;65(6):833-40. Epub 2008 Mar 13.

7.       Sale C et al. Metabolic and physiological effects of ingesting extracts of bitter orange, green tea and guarana at rest and during treadmill walking in overweight males. Int J Obesity. 2006;30(5):764-73

8.       Stephens Coles et al. Coenzyme Q10 and Lifespan Extension Advan Anti-Aging Med. 1996:205

  1. Mizuno K et al. Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. 2008 Apr;24(4):293-299

10.   Kon M et al. Reducing exercise-induced muscular injury in kendo athletes with supplementation of coenzyme Q10. Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb 20;1-7

  1. Cooke M et al. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 208 Mar 4;5(1):8

12.   Wutzke Klaus D,  Lorenz Henrik The effect of L-carnitine on fat oxidation, protein turnover, and body composition in slightly overweight subjects Metabolism 2004;53(8):1002-06

  1. Barry A. Spiering et al. Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on muscle oxygenation responses to resistance exercise J Strength Cond Res 2008;22:113035

  2. Jeff S. Volek et al. L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002;282:E474-E482

  3. Depeint F et al. Mitochondrial function and toxicity: role of B vitamins on the one-carbon transfer pathways Chem Biol Interact. 2006;163(1-2):113-32. Epub 2006 May 24

  4. Toyoshima S et al. Accumulation of methylmalonic acid caused by vitamin B12-deficiency disrupts normal cellular metabolism in rat liver Br J Nutr. 1996;75(6):929-38

  5. Howlett KF et al. Carbohydrate metabolism during exercise in females: effect of reduced fat availability. Metabolism. 50(4):481-7, 2001

18.   Silveri MM et al. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy NMR Biomed. 2008 Nov;21(10):1066-75

19.   J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(8):2227-38. DOI:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181aeb0cf

20.   L.R. Brilla And Victor Conte. Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength JEPonline 2000;3(4):26-36

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