As consumers of all ages have become aware of their benefits, probiotics are now being used for much more than gut health.
Probiotics have been gaining popularity in Europe and Asia for some time, and now, Americans are starting to catch on. According to Business Insights, in 2010, total sales of probiotic supplements reached almost $800 million in the U.S. and European Union. It is projected through 2015 that the global probiotic market will be worth $28.8 billion, even though it is still considered in its infancy, according to Global Industry Analysts.Interest in probiotics is particularly high, as consumers increasingly seek to improve their health and vitality.
The need to incorporate probiotics appeals to everyone, said Michael Schoor, president and CEO of Texas-based Essential Formulas Inc. (EFI). "Due to the mass media drawing attention to the benefits of probiotics, consumers have recognized there is a definite need to include probiotics in their diet, and they are realizing that the proper bacterial balance effects everything from mood to bone health."
Schoor expressed that the standard American diet (SAD) has impacted the market the most. "People have succumbed to the convenience of fast foods, which have high sugar and fat contents.As a result, many are experiencing digestive issues. Incorporating probiotics into their diets has helped people to find relief."
Probiotics appear to have caught the attention of the mainstream media, conventional medical professionals and the mass market consumers, agreed Tori Hudson, ND, director of education and research for Oregonbased Vitanica, a women's health care supplement formulator. "Their usage has moved beyond the realm of alternative health care providers and the studious natural foods consumer, who have been aware of their benefits for decades."
Probiotics for Kids
Appealing to a large group of consumers, recent findings have specifically highlighted the benefits that probiotics can provide to children in several areas of health. With prescriptive medications, environmental toxins and stress undermining healthy digestive flora, probiotics are on the rise and are a welcome solution for preventative health, said Chakra Earthsong Levy, co-founder and formulator of California-based KeVita, Inc., makers of KeVita, a probiotic drink. "Today's parents are increasingly health conscious and becoming more educated about preventative health care, and more willing to try alternatives for the health of their children.Trends show a multitude of childfriendly probiotic products for children, such as yogurts and beverages."
The groups to whom probiotics appeal have indeed been growing, added Dallas Clouatre, PhD, consultant for R&D at California-based Jarrow Formulas. "Probiotics increasingly are being recognized as offering benefits to children, for reducing colds and flu, and providing other immunologic benefits, such as exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects and even influencing the health of the skin and the central nervous system.Each of these benefits potentially represents a new target audience."
Jack Macdonald, owner of Vitamin Center in Capitola, CA, said he has seen this trend in his store. "Most of my customer base is family oriented and digestive concerns are a growing problem among children. I get requests Constantly for products for children. This has generated a need for products that kids can take easily, such as chewables that aren't loaded with sugars."
Specifically, colic is one of the most prevalent conditions of infancy: about 20 percent of all babies suffer the inconsolable bouts of crying that characterize it. According to a February 14, 2011 New York Times article, "The Claim: Probiotics Can Soothe a Colicky Baby," in a 2007 study, Italian researchers examined 83 colicky babies who were breast-fed. Over 28 days, some of the infants were given simethicone, a medication that reduces gas; the others were given a supplement containing L. reuteri, a probiotic often found in yogurt. At the end of the study, the babies who received the probiotic cried an average of 51 minutes a day, compared with about 2.5 hours in the other group. A 2010 study produced similar results, according to the article.
Further, according to a new study published by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, probiotics may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) in children. In the review, researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search for well-designed clinical trials evaluating the effects of probiotics on ADD in children. Additionally, each study was required to compare probiotics to placebo, active alternative prophylaxis or no treatment, and measure the incidence of diarrhea secondary to antibiotic. Sixteen well-designed clinical trials included 3,432 children receiving antibiotics were ultimately included in the review, and a variety of probiotic strains were used. The researchers found that despite methodological flaws, the overall evidence suggests a protective effect of probiotics in preventing AAD.
Schoor also cited the trend of solid scientific research backing probiotics and kids. "The probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus does help children with acute diarrhea get better faster, and many probiotics are also being studied for use in children with chronic constipation, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and Helicobacter pylori infections," he said. "On a positive note, no studies have found any significant side effects for healthy children without immune system problems taking probiotics."
Digestion and More
Probiotics are most well-known for digestive health, and wider marketing by more traditional food companies has further popularized their use."People are making the connection between digestive health and the rest of their body's health," added Retailer Macdonald. "The immune system and body support starts in the digestive track."
Enter Jarrow's Ideal Bowel Support 299v™, a scientifically supported probiotic specifically made for people who suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This probiotic contains Lactobaccilus plantarum 299v (Lp299v), a human intestinal strain that been shown to have exceptional capabilities, including: mucosal binding and colonization; tolerance to a variety of stresses; prevention of inflammatory changes in disease models; regulation of bacterial overgrowth; and enhancement of vaccine efficacy when supplemented immediately after vaccine treatment, said Clouatre.
Additionally, Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics® Original Formula relieves occasional gas and heartburn, maintains healthy intestinal pH and digestive function, enhances absorption of nutrients from food and other supplements, and supports a healthy immune system response, according to EFI's Schoor."Unlike other probiotics on the market today, Dr. Ohhira's contain live bacteria, not freeze-dried. Live lactic acid bacteria (LAB) produce substrates that include organic acids, which encourage proper pH in the GI tract. Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics was among the first products in the U.S. to incorporate this science and due to the fermentation process, they are the only probiotic on the market today that don't have to be refrigerated," he said.
KeVita, meanwhile, is a sparkling probiotic "superdrink" that has four strains of active probiotics, including those originating from kefir-derived cultures, according to the company. "For thousands of years, these cultures have been cherished for supporting beneficial digestive flora," said Earthsong Levy. "KeVita is the first cultured probiotic drink of its kind, and consumers find the benefits and delicious flavor combined with KeVita's low calorie profile most appealing."
Even further, UAS Laboratories' DDS®-1 strain of L. acidophilus was one of the first commercially available probiotics and still maintains its performance leadership with more studies than most probiotics, natural acid and bile resistance, ability to colonize the digestive tract, ability to produce beneficial enzymes, vitamins, hydrogen peroxide and other products, said Connie Falkenstein, director of marketing for the Minnesota-based probiotic manufacturing company.
Moreover, while the initial appeal of probiotics was mainly for people suffering from digestive discomfort, that appeal has greatly widened as scientific research continues to support that a healthy bacterial balance literally affects every aspect of a person's health. "Folks are surprised to learn all the different areas that a quality probiotic can affect.We might sound like a broken record to our customers, because you can make a case for probiotics for almost any health concern," said Andy Hopkins, president and CEO of Real Food Grocery in Plano, TX.
Recently, findings have highlighted that probiotics can provide benefits in the areas of immunity, including the likelihood of developing asthma. "The impact of probiotics on regulating inflammatory processes and immunity had not been explored or exploited as a focus until just the last few years," said Clouatre, adding that Jarrow's Jarro- Dophilus® Oral Probiotic Gum and Lozenge products contain two clinically documented probiotic strains from Streptococcus salivarius, BLIS K12™ and BLIS M18™. "The two work together to support immune, teeth, gum, ear, nose and throat health, promote fresh breath via secreting bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) and enzymes, and by competing for oral space."
Probiotics for women's health are becoming increasingly popular as well.Jarrow's fem-dophilus® contains two patented and clinically documented probiotic strains-Lactobacillus rhamnosus, GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri, RC-14®-discovered and developed by Dr. Gregor Reid and Dr. Andrew Bruce at Urex Biotech. More than 20 years of research supports the oral use of GR-1 and RC-14 to colonize and protect the vaginal tract, said Clouatre.
According to Schoor, education in the probiotic category is a must for retailers."EFIsupports our retailers and their customers with a strong education, marketing and advertising component.Our website, www.essentialformulas. com, is a great resource for education, [in addition to] listing all retailers via zip code that carry Dr. Ohhira's products. EFIalso sends out electronic newsletters on probiotic health and frequently use credentialed spokespeople to educate via radio, print, television and web interviews."
Jarrow, meanwhile, is active on radio shows and other means of getting the message out to the public. "The company is happy to supply literature, trainings and speakers to retailers who would like to take advantage of these educational offerings," said Clouatre.While UAS has always provided free samples of its product to retailers, Falkenstein noted that the company just introduced a new program to expand on that practice. "It is our feeling that by trying the product, the consumer can determine for himself or herself how well it works for them. Because DDS Probiotics often exhibit superior performance [compared to] others, we feel that by providing free samples, the product will speak for itself."
PROBIOTICS AND REGULATION
The FDA's New Dietary Ingredients (NDI) draft guidance is vague enough to cause many probiotic suppliers to express concern that the guidance could mean development delays in the introduction of new probiotic cultures.VR asked manufacturers their thoughts about probiotics facing a life and death struggle with NDIs:
"Within our industry, there are at least two major lines of thought on this topic.One hangs on every new pronouncement of the FDA. Another line of thought reminds us that Senators [Tom] Harkin and [Orrin] Hatch were authors of DSHEA and they are still around to interpret this. The FDA answers to Congress, not the other way around."
- Dallas Clouatre, Jarrow Formulas
"NDIs are not a good regulation for either the dietary supplement industry or the American consumer. Essential Formulas filed a lengthy statement with the FDA on this topic and we hope [the Agency] will withdraw the NDIs until further consideration may be given the topic."
- Michael Schoor, Essential Formulas
"Many probiotics have been used in fermented food products for centuries and as such have a long history of safe use. These products are grandfathered with GRAS status. Most strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have this GRAS status and are listed in global catalogs. However, new strains that have not yet been used in fermented foods may require more stringent testing for safety."
- Connie Falkenstein, UAS Laboratories