Functional foods potential boosts interest in vitamin K-2

According to Innova Market Insights, vitamin K-2 appears to be the next big thing in functional foods as evidence has grown about its beneficial role in bone and cardiovascular health. It is already finding increasing use in dietary supplements, but its early 2011 award of GRAS status for dairy foods in the United States, following on from its EU Novel Foods approval in 2009, along with the rising number of natural and synthetic branded ingredients now appearing on the market, seems to be pointing in that direction.

The number of product launches containing vitamin K-2 remains relatively limited globally, although the Innova Database indicates that introductions recorded rose by more than 40% in 2010.

The key focus to date, according to a review of the launches highlighted by Innova Market Insights, has been in dietary supplements, including sports nutrition lines, with a growing range of products appearing that focus on the use of natural vitamin K-2 derived from the traditional Japanese soy-based health food natto. The US, with its large and highly developed supplements market, has been particularly active in this area.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of vitamin K-2 ingredient suppliers have been actively promoting its use and benefits, and the market remains highly branded with natural products such as Nattopharma of Norway’s MenaQ7 and Danisco’s ActivK, as well as more cost-effective synthetic lines such as Kappa’s K2 MK-7, also to be marketed by Danisco, following an agreement in March 2011. While the natural version is most suited to manufacturers wanting to focus on a natural label, the less expensive synthetic lines may prove a better approach for developing mass market use.

According to Lu Ann Williams, Research Manager, Innova Market Insights, vitamin K-2–fortified food and drink product launches are likely to start imminently in the US following the recent GRAS approval of Nattopharma’s MenaQ7 for use in dairy foods.

“Dairy is an excellent starting point, appearing to be well suited as a delivery system for vitamin K-2 because of the strong existing links between dairy products and bone health, and the natural levels of calcium and vitamin D in many dairy lines, which can act synergistically with vitamin K,” said Williams. “Meanwhile in Europe, work is still ongoing on a heart-health claim for vitamin K-2, which will extend its potential still further if it is granted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as hoped, during 2011.”

Source: Innova Market Insights

Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the posttranslational modification of certain proteins, mostly required for blood coagulation but also involved in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue. They are 2-methyl1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives. This group of vitamins includes two natural vitamers: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.

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