Ingredients for Energy and Immunity

One of the hottest trends is designing and marketing foods and beverages promising quick fixes to our energy- and health-deprived society.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D.

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The market for energy and immunity ingredients is surging. Compounds such as B vitamins, taurine, creatine, peptides, minerals, botanicals (guarana, ginseng, ginkgo biloba etc.), nutritive sweeteners, d-ribose, and compounds in chocolate, coffee and tea (phenylethylamine, theophylline and theobromine) are being marketed for health benefits less disease and more prevention oriented.

Innovations continually emerge to mask undesirable colors, tastes or reactions, and to improve bioavailability, stability and solubility of these ingredients. Kraft Foods (, Northfield, Ill., formulated its Fruit2O Energy beverages with energy-generating B vitamins and caffeine (as much as in a cup of coffee), with zero calories and 0g of carbohydrate per serving.

There are two types of energy boosters - the quick jolt, and those without sugar spikes.

Crisp fruit flavors help mask the taste of B vitamins in the beverage. "The Fruit20 product line function and flavor were designed for an audience that does not want additional calories in their beverages," says Vinay Sharma, senior brand manager. "We chose Splenda because sucralose does not affect blood glucose levels." Fruit2O is also geared for people with diabetes and managing sugar.

Del Monte Foods (, San Francisco, formulated Bloom Energy for women. The lightly carbonated juice beverage is charged with white tea extract and guarana, and yields 74mg of caffeine per serving. White tea may help prevent cancer, decrease LDL cholesterol and protect skin from oxidative stress and immune-cell damage.

People with active lifestyles, on the other hand, seek to boost mental and physical performance, both in preparation for a workout and after energy expenditure. Netherlands-based DSM Food Specialties ( designed Peptopro, its casein hydrolysate amino acid compound, specifically as an energy-enhancer for the Dutch Olympics team. The mix of active peptides is believed to help stimulate the production of insulin, which in turn results in better use of glucose by the muscle cells.

Using dairy proteins, B vitamins and coenzyme Q-10, Bravo! Brands Inc. (, North Palm Beach, Fla., launched two lines of calcium- and protein-fortified milk products, "Slammers" and "Pro Slammers." The company markets the Pro Slammer line as a "sport protein milk blast." The beverages have half the protein and half the fat of regular milk. The company's "Blenders" line of lactose-free milk beverages are laced with antioxidants.

Long associated with immune health, yogurt has been a natural and popular medium for immunity-orientated ingredients.
Long associated with immune health, yogurt has been a natural and popular medium for immunity-orientated ingredients.

According to national accounts manager, Reto Rieder, "PeptoPro is a patented mixture of di- and tri-peptides that are absorbed and assimilated faster than proteins or amino acids and provides energy directly to the muscles, helping to reduce fatigue, promoting faster recovery, repairing damaged muscle tissue and combating muscle wastage."

Another ingredient believed to help increase cellular energy production is L-carnitine. Beverages such as Hydrive and Dardevil Energy Drink claim thermogenic properties to help with weight loss and endurance during exercise.

Energy Unmasked

L-carnitine, along with other amino acids, caffeine and B vitamins, helps Hydrive by Inov8 Beverage Co. (, Rye, N.Y., give a quick boost of energy without the sugar "spikes" or intense sweetness of some other energy drinks. Daredevil Energy Drink, Outlast Nutrition LLC (, Tustin, Calif., lets 120mg caffeine per serving, L-carnitine taurine, caffeine, guarana and B vitamins provide its energy punch. Xyience Inc. (, Las Vegas, formulated Xenergy with taurine, caffeine, ginseng, and L-carnitine to support energy and focus and used special fruit flavors to mask the undesirable notes of the active ingredients.

Spike LLC (, Colorado Springs, Colo., makes Spike Shooter, an energy beverage with substantially more neurostimulants than any other energy beverage. Each serving of the "Hard Core Energy Drink" has 300mg caffeine, L-tyrosine, B vitamins, anhydrous caffeine and the alkaloid yohimbine HCl (also known as "yohimbe"). Sucralose and natural and artificial flavors help mask the normally bitter tastes of the stimulants.

Leading Brands International, Vancouver, British Columbia, ( released its youth-targeted Stoked Wind Chill and Stoked After Burn. "Stoked is an energy drink stripped down to the basics, with no high-fructose corn syrup," says David Neely, director of R&D for the company.

Until recently, formulating with the amino acid taurine was challenging because of its markedly bitter or astringent taste profile. Now there is a wide array of masking fruit flavors - such as  such as Erlanger, Ky.-based Wild Flavors Inc.'s ( "resolver technology" - used to block off-notes from taurine and ginseng. Hiball Inc. (, San Francisco, uses natural flavors to accentuate and mask the off-flavors of taurine, ginseng, guarana, B vitamins and caffeine in its Hi Ball All-Natural Energy drinks.

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