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Fucoidan part 3: Bioactive seaweed compounds

In the first part of this series we discussed the history, source and manufacture of the trending marine ingredient, fucoidan. In this second part we looked at the bioactivity of fucoidan and the key evidence that supports its use across a range of human health areas. In this final instalment we discuss fucoidan product applications, consumer trends and predicted commercial opportunities for the future.

Fucoidan compounds are increasingly being utilised for a variety of nutritional, pharmaceutical and dermatological applications. There is a growing evidence base to support the beneficial properties of fucoidan across a range of human health areas. Coupled with its ability to be incorporated into a wide range of delivery formats, this evidence positions fucoidan as one of the most exciting ingredients for the supplement market.

In recent years, fucoidan extracts have also attained regulatory approvals in a number of global jurisdictions for use in food and dietary supplements. Of particular note, extracts from Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus have been granted ‘Generally Recognised as Safe’ (GRAS) status with the US FDA following an application by Australian company Marinova Pty Ltd.

Under the GRAS ruling, the daily consumption of high concentration fucoidan extracts from both Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus have been accepted at rates of up to 250mg/day. This provides the market with sound confidence that fucoidan can be safely consumed in a wide variety of products. However, it is important to note that only Maritech® organic fucoidan has been granted FDA-notified GRAS approval at this daily rate.

Maritech® organic fucoidan extracts have also been assessed by the European Union and found to be substantially equivalent to the parental seaweeds from which they were extracted. Following novel foods approval under the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU), the market is experiencing a surge in interest in fucoidan for inclusion in a range of products. 

In both Canada and Australia, respective agencies have approved a number of listed medicines containing fucoidan extracts. In Australia, fucoidans have been approved in a species-specific context for both Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus. They are recognised as listable components of their parental herbal (seaweed) source.

High quality fucoidan extracts, such as those manufactured by Marinova, are typically available as a fine, milled powder. They are water soluble and easily incorporated into a range of products including capsules, tablets, powders, liquids and beverages, sprays, gels, serums and creams.

Popular inclusions on the market today see fucoidan incorporated as a lead ingredient in nutritional supplements focussing on general health and wellbeing, joint health, immunity, gut and digestive health, and anti-inflammation. In particular we are seeing a significant rise in consumer demand for certified organic, plant-based products with traceable provenance.

Fucoidan is a popular ingredient in a growing number of beauty and skin care products. Maritech® Bright and Maritech® Reverse are the only fucoidan ingredients on the market specifically formulated for skin health. Supported by clinical evidence, they offer anti-ageing, protecting, soothing and brightening properties. These ingredients feature successfully in topical products aimed at consumers looking for natural solutions to their skin care regime.

There is a significant opportunity to utilise fucoidan in specific health concerns. As clinical research progresses, we predict the development of targeted therapeutic products for conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and gastric ulcers. Interest in fucoidan to support conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease is also increasing.

Lastly, the suite of scientific evidence supporting fucoidan in the areas of gut health and anti-inflammation makes it a prime candidate as a novel ingredient for the sports nutrition market. Preliminary research on Maritech® organic fucoidan demonstrates promising outcomes in this area and the release of clinical data is expected in 2020. With the interest in active nutrition continuing to increase across the globe, fucoidan may certainly be an innovative ingredient worth considering by formulators. It is a market not confined to elite athletes, but targeting all individuals with an interest in physical activity, sports performance and recovery.

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