Ingredients and dosage forms in active and sports nutrition

Published: 21-Jun-2018

Tapping into consumer trends

The widespread adoption of healthier lifestyles has had a profound effect on the active and sports nutrition market in recent years.

Both sports professionals and everyday gym-goers are increasingly discerning about the products they choose, whereas new audiences, such as weekend warriors and sporty millennials who exercise at least three times a week, are also recognising the benefits of such products.

This has led to a growing demand for fortified foods, beverages and supplements that deliver significant nutritional benefits, with the global active and sports nutrition market developing in line with these changing preferences.

Valued at $28.37 billion in 2016, Zion Market Research predicts the market to be worth $45.27 billion by 2022, accelerating the need for manufacturers to deliver new and innovative supplements that meet a diverse range of consumer preferences.

An evolving market

In the rapidly growing sports nutrition market, it is more important than ever before that supplements are considered to be safe and high quality, with substantial scientific evidence behind them.

According to a global survey conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) and commissioned by Capsugel, now a Lonza company, Italy is the biggest European market for supplements, with the highest consumption of the countries surveyed.1

Three in four people interviewed in this region are currently using supplements, with more than a third increasing their usage during the last few years. Meanwhile, in France, more than half (54%) of those surveyed currently use supplements, whereas in Germany 63% of respondents consume such products.

There is no such thing as a “typical” active and sports nutrition consumer; from professional athletes to health-conscious individuals, supplements are used by people of all ages in applications ranging from fat burning and recovery through to immune support.

Although sales are currently driven by a younger age group, older consumers are also a key audience for sports nutrition products.

Several scientific studies have found that older adults benefit from resistance training and effective supplementation programmes, including nutrients such as protein, amino acids, HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, the precursor of leucine) and creatine.2

There is therefore an opportunity for manufacturers to consider new ingredients and dosage form solutions, as the target audience for such supplements continues to evolve.

On-trend ingredients

Whatever the demographic, both active consumers and sports professionals are seeking ways to achieve optimum results — before, during and after exercise. For instance, L-carnitine has become an established ingredient in the active and sports nutrition market, thanks to its potential recovery and energy generation benefits.

Naturally produced by the body, L-carnitine is thought to play a vital role in transporting long-chain fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane, resulting in the breakdown of fat and energy generation.

Ingredients and dosage forms in active and sports nutrition

Scientific studies conducted by Lonza, in collaboration with global research centres, suggest that supplementation with L-carnitine has significant recovery benefits, helping to reduce tissue damage and muscle soreness after exercise.3

Lonza’s high-quality Carnipure L-carnitine can easily be integrated into a wide range of functional foods and nutritional supplements for the active and sports nutrition industry. Backed by extensive human studies, research shows that Carnipure L-carnitine may provide a number of different benefits alongside reducing muscle soreness and improving recovery time, including increasing blood flow and reducing markers of metabolic stress.4

In addition, with recovery and sleep being a priority for many sports professionals, as well as active consumers leading increasingly busy lives, other ingredients from Lonza are increasing in popularity. One such example is Lonza’s ZMA brand, which is a highly bioavailable proprietary blend of L-OptiZinc zinc mono-L-methionine, carefully selected magnesium salts and vitamin B6.

An anabolic mineral support formula, the ZMA ingredient contains magnesium, which contributes to normal muscle function and helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue, offering potential benefits to strength-trained, competitive athletes and active consumers who are looking to improve muscle recovery and regeneration.

UC-II undenatured type II collagen is also gaining favour as a recovery aid, helping to alleviate joint wear and tear in active consumers, while also supporting mobility and flexibility.5

Capsule choices

Choosing the most appropriate delivery system is crucial for manufacturers looking to achieve optimal product performance and overcome complex formulation challenges.

The preferred dosage form for many active consumers and sports professionals, capsules are both easy to swallow and convenient. Capsules can also hold a wide range of ingredients, from powder and liquids to semisolids.

They are a safe and compliant dosage form that meets the regulatory requirements of the most stringent pharmaceutical standards; plus, their ability to disintegrate like a pharmaceutical product may also improve nutrient bioavailability.

Given consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates, capsules are a popular choice for manufacturers looking to mask the taste or odour of ingredients without the need for coatings.

Although the sports nutrition segment is dominated by protein powders and ready-to-drink formulations (RTDs), most ingredient innovation stems from non-protein supplements in capsule formats. Compared with other delivery forms or bulk powders, capsule-based supplements can provide the best nutrient-to-calorie ratio — potentially offering added value for consumers looking to shape their bodies and follow an energy reduced diet.

Across the active and sports nutrition industry, liquid ingredients are becoming more popular, thanks to their fast absorption rates. Supplement manufacturers are therefore turning to innovative delivery systems such as Licaps two-piece capsules from Capsugel to contain liquid or semisolid ingredients and take advantage of the benefits that liquid ingredients offer.

In addition to the benefits of liquid-filled capsules, many consumers and sports professionals are looking to combine more than one ingredient to achieve maximum results from their supplements. However, bringing together multiple incompatible ingredients in one capsule can result in formulation challenges, including the degradation of sensitive ingredients.

Capsugel’s DUOCAP capsule-in-capsule technology is helping to overcome difficult formulation challenges by enabling liquid and solid actives with different release profiles to be combined in one dosage form, such as vitamin K2, vitamin D and calcium, which can be used in one supplement to aid bone health.

Clean label demands

Clean label, once a trend confined to the food and drink industry, is now also having a substantial impact on the active and sports nutrition market, with many supplement labels adopting free from and transparency claims.

As such, supplement manufacturers need responsibly sourced ingredients and the highest quality manufacturing processes to meet the requirements of more demanding consumers.

Capsugel has developed a wide range of advanced certified vegetarian and vegan delivery systems for clean label products, including Vcaps Plus capsules that only consist of HPMC and water and contain no gelling agent, vegetarian Licaps liquid-filled capsules and Plantcaps capsules made from Pullulan — naturally fermented from tapioca plants.

Standing out

As the market for effective active and sports nutrition products continues to rise at a rapid rate, both ingredient selection and dosage forms are becoming a key consideration for supplement manufacturers.

In particular, increasingly health conscious consumers are driving the demand for established, scientifically proven ingredients, encouraging brands to invest in further research and develop new applications.

Lonza can help businesses to overcome complex formulation challenges, meet the demand for clean label products and create safe, high-performance sports nutrition supplements for both the professional and mainstream consumer markets.


  1. NMI SORD, Proprietary Report for Capsugel: 1000 online participants in Italy, France and Germany (2015).
  2. R. Fielding, et al., “L-Carnitine Supplementation in Recovery After Exercise,” Nutrients 10(3), E349: doi: 10.3390/nu10030349 (2018).
  3. J.S. Volek, et al., “L-Carnitine L-Tartrate Supplementation Favorably Affects Markers of Recovery from Exercise Stress,” Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 282, E474–E482 (2002).
  4. J.S. Volek, et al., “Effects of Carnitine Supplementation on Flow-Mediated Dilation and Vascular Inflammatory Responses to a High-Fat Meal in Healthy Young Adults,” Am. J. Cardiol. 102, 1413–1417 (2008).
  5. J.P. Lugo, et al., “Undenatured Type II Collagen (UC-II®) for Joint Support: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Healthy Volunteers,” J. lnt. Soc. Sports Nutr. 10(1), 48: doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-48 (2013).

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