Healthy Ageing APAC Summit 2019

Silver Sarcopenia tsunami: AstaReal assesses huge functional food opportunity as Asia’s population ages

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

AstaReal had developed a unique ready-to-drink functional beverage to support healthy muscles and mobility. ©Healthy Ageing APAC Summit 2019
AstaReal had developed a unique ready-to-drink functional beverage to support healthy muscles and mobility. ©Healthy Ageing APAC Summit 2019

Related tags: sarcopenia, Functional food, Astaxanthin

Almost 50 million people in Asia-Pacific are suffering from sarcopenia, and this figure is expected to rise, creating a huge need for supplements and functional food innovation to help alleviate the problem.

The top ageing APAC country is Japan. Together with South Korea, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, these six countries represent almost 50 million people suffering from sarcopenia​,” Dr Vincent Wood, president of AstaReal South East Asia told our Healthy Ageing APAC Summit in Singapore.

He told delegates that sarcopenia, and its associated problems, was the biggest ‘silver tsunami’.

By 2050, 61% of people aged 60 and above will be from APAC. That’s 1.2 billion people. And in this aged population, ageing population problems and non-communicable diseases clearly stand out as health issues​,” said Wood.

It’s both a daunting prospect but at the same time opportunities exists to meet the needs of this massive market population​.”

Sarcopenia is a normal part of aging and, if left unchecked, can increase the risk of frailty, disability and premature death​.”

Wood said there was no drug or practical clinical solution to treat sarcopenia, emphasising the condition was accelerated with age, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.

He said: “Sarcopenia begins much earlier than most people think. It starts when you're in your 30s​.”

One-quarter of people 55 to 74 years suffer from sarcopenia. It jumps to 60% for people 75 years and above.

The sarcopenia market was valued at around US$2200 million in 2017, and expected to increase 4.3% to around US$3000 million by 2024, according to Zion market research​.

There is tremendous opportunity for the industry to address this need.

Pump up the protein

In terms of nutrition solutions, Wood advised to, “increase protein intake and reduce sugar, salt and fat intake. It is encouraged to supplement your diet with antioxidants and others (such as astaxanthin, leucine, fish oils, NAD+ etc) to maintain muscle nutrition​.

International expert groups have also called for higher protein intake in older adults.

The current protein RDA is 0.8g/kg. The new recommendations suggest a minimum protein intake of 1 to 1.2g/kg for healthy older people, increasing up to 2g/kg for elderly suffering from acute or chronic diseases as well as malnutrition.

In a Japan study​ by Fujino H, et al​., elderly subjects were given either placebo (12 mg, 2 times/day of vitamin E) or astaxanthin supplement (12 mg, 2 times/day) for 3 months. They then performed a 6-min walking distance (6MWD) test.

The distance and step number during 6MWD in the astaxanthin group were higher than those in placebo group.

Furthermore, the rate of increase in blood lactate after walking was lower in the astaxanthin group than in placebo group.

Wood remarked that the timing of introducing protein into the diet is equally important.

He said: “Spreading and balancing your protein intake across the day, achieves the maximum rate of muscle synthesis​.”

So instead of consuming most of your daily protein in a single meal, even it throughout the day​.”

Unlock the Asian functional food market

Wood said AstaReal had developed a unique ready-to-drink (RTD) functional beverage to support healthy muscles and mobility, containing soy and astaxanthin.

The product, AstaMed™ Plus blend is in a body ready form that allows greater bioavailability. This is particularly good for elderly who have poorer uptake of nutrients.

Being a RTD beverage, it provides convenience on the go.

It also has a low taste impact: “Astaxanthin is oil soluble yet our new powders are cold water dispersible with virtually no seaweed taste profile.” ​The drink is fortified with soy protein and leucine,” he added.

There is a socio-economic timebomb in rapidly ageing countries caused “Consumers prefer health-enhancing ingredients through food and challenges remain for suppliers and NPD groups to make tasty and affordable products​.”

Micronutrients with gold standard clinical substantiation should considered for inclusion in functional foods and beverages. There’s a need for more research into “longevity vitamins” for the benefit of public health​.”

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