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Antioxidants - Prized for myriad health benefits

Industry by Chris Zecha on April 5, 2017

Antioxidants - Prized for myriad health benefits

Today, most health-conscious consumers recognize the importance of a diet rich in antioxidants -- those prized nutrients including vitamins such as A, E and C — that prevent or slow oxidative damage throughout the body. Antioxidants found in both foods and supplement form are desired for maintaining cardiovascular health, beautiful skin, and preventing certain types of cancer. As both baby boomers and millennials continue to maintain a strong commitment to overall health, the marketplace for new antioxidant sources in nutraceutical form continues to expand.

According to a recent report published by Allied Market Research, titled, “Antioxidants Market by Type - Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014 - 2022,” the global antioxidants market generated $2,923 million in 2015, and is expected to reach $4,531 million by 2022, registering a CAGR of 6.42% during the forecast period. In the natural antioxidants category, vitamin E segment accounted for more than one-third share of the global volume in 2015.

Key findings of the study

  • In 2015, the Vitamin E segment dominated the global market with more than one-third of the total share by volume.
  • The natural antioxidant segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.47% during 2016-2022.
  • The rosemary extract segment in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.06% during the forecast period.
  • In 2015, butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) segment occupied the major share in the global market, accounting for about half of the total volume.
  • The synthetic antioxidant market in Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.32% during the forecast period.

Background on the Antioxidant Market:

As per the NIH website, the public became aware of antioxidants in the 1990s, when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and may also contribute to cancer, vision loss and other chronic conditions. Some studies showed that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing these chronic conditions.

Antioxidants are prized by the consumer for these benefits:

Preventive Health

Antioxidant trends are connected to the general consumer’s desire to maintain overall preventive health. Anti-aging and the prevention of the eye disease macular degeneration, cancer and stroke are good examples of conditions that could benefit from taking antioxidants.

Oxidative Stress

Antioxidants are essential to protecting the body from oxidative stress from free radicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). An unhealthy diet, stress, smoking and air pollution all contribute to oxidative stress. In fact, the DNA in every cell in the human body suffers about 10,000 ‘hits’ from free radicals each day.

Beautiful Skin

In addition, antioxidants can do wonders when it comes to protecting the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which are known to damage the lipid membrane of skin cells, cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

Cardiovascular Health

The World Health Organization has reported that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death. In studies, antioxidants have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and improve overall circulation.


Arthritis and diabetes are both chronic diseases related to inflammation that generates the production of free radicals. Antioxidants may improve joint health by reducing inflammation and may also help to reduce blood sugar among diabetics.

Trending toward “specialized” antioxidants:

A recent Nutraceuticals World article stated, “Antioxidants are becoming more specialized in the sense that the science and health benefits are becoming more specific. Correlating how an antioxidant benefits a particular system—like cardiovascular, joint and eye health, to name a few—resonates more with consumers than just a broader use of the word as a claim.”

What’s more consumers, particularly the millennial population, are looking more and more for clean labels and transparency. People want to read the back of a label, recognize the ingredients and draw their own conclusion that the product is good for them.

Product and Ingredient Trends

While most consumers are aware of traditional antioxidants like vitamins C and E, they have a continued interest in other antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids, xanthophylls, diarylheptanoids and polyphenols and herbal extracts.

Over the past 20 years the antioxidant astaxanthin has gained rapid popularity. Natural astaxanthin is derived from algae and has been tied to energy production, cognitive health, joint health and skin health. It has also been shown to cross the blood-brain, and blood-retinal barriers, meaning it can positively impact disorders related to eye, brain and central nervous system, among others.

Curcumin found in turmeric, continues to be very popular in the herbal category. This is because research supports its potential benefits tied to reducing oxidative stress, which is involved in many chronic diseases.

Carotenoids, pigments responsible for the yellow to red colors in foods and plants, are becoming more and more popular, especially lutein and zeaxanthin., collectively called xanthophyll. These antioxidants found are prized for their role in eye health by reducing photo-oxidative damage.

Guayusa Tea Extract is an emerging Amazonian leaf that contains a particularly unique blend of polyphenol compounds as well as caffeine. The antioxidant compounds are like that of green coffee and dark chocolate and they tend to synergistically balance the caffeine.

Berries continue to be popular antioxidant sources for fighting free radicals. Berries such as black elderberry and aroniaberry, which are high in red-purple color pigment, are gaining popularity. That’s because the darker the berry, the higher the antioxidant capacity, with berries like holding strong at the top of the list.

In sum, nutraceutical companies should position antioxidant product lines toward the needs of specific demographics and continue to offer the latest, most quality-sourced ingredients to attract consumers of all ages.


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