Personalised longevity: Hong Kong’s Alixir Life hopes to expand into healthy ageing realm
The firm offers a personalised vitamin pack, targeting health concerns including general wellbeing, stress, sleep, focus, skin, joints, digestion, heart, immunity and pregnancy.
Now the company wants to add healthy ageing into the list. Samuel Stitt, founder of Alixir Life told NutraIngredients-Asia: “Ageing itself is starting to be considered as a disease with a convergence of promising research focused on increasing lifespan. There is huge potential to add quality years to our lives, not in just one area but across multiple symptoms of ageing.
“We see customers increasingly interested in feeling youthful longer and educating themselves in ways to prevent the onset of age-related diseases or even reduce the chances of cancer.”
In 2018, Asia-Pacific was home to 600 million people above 60 years in 2018, which is set to grow to 1.3 billion by 2050, bringing with it rising demand for nutrition products suitable for this population.
The company is looking at supplements with research focusing on longevity and slowing ageing, for instance nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) and its precursors like nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).
Stitt said animal studies of these compounds had shown promise in preventative ageing. “(However) for us, it is about striking a balance between making promising supplements available whilst making customers aware of the limitations of only animal research.”
“We eventually want to be a company that helps individuals improve their lifespan and stay healthy and active for longer via preventive healthcare,” Stitt said.
Personalised nutrition service
The company with a team of five, including an advisory board for health and nutrition advice was founded in 2018. Consumers first complete an online questionnaire to receive personalised recommendations based on their diet, exercise, and health.
Stitt explained: “Our quiz is biased (by design) towards supplements that have the strongest research backing and customers are more likely to be deficient in.”
The personalised mix of supplements are then packed into 28 daily sachets and a month’s supply will be delivered to consumers.
There are currently 22 vitamins and minerals on its platform including magnesium, ashwagandha, fish oil, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and Rhodiol,a which Stitt described were its most popular supplements thus far. “A lot of people take these supplements to help deal with stress and improve their sleep.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Stitt said the firm had “found that people are more aware of their health at the moment and see increased interest in supplements that may help with immunity.”
Most of its supplements are manufactured in the US, in FDA-approved facilities that follow GMP.
Last year, Alixir Life also opened an office in Singapore. Stitt explained the firm hopes to establish itself in Asia, where personalised nutrition still lags behind Europe and US, mostly attributed by high cost and the heterogenous population.
A physicist by background, Stitt said: “I was always sceptical about supplement claims and marketing. (We want to) provide quality supplements in a more convenient way and helping people get honest rather than misleading advice.
“I think there are several great companies out there with similar aims to us,” Stitt added.
In Singapore, there are Paquet and POP, offering similar questionnaire-based services.
“I think many people are tired and jaded by a lot of the more traditional supplement companies, their branding is uninspiring, and people look for something a bit different.
“Many people in Hong Kong are shifting towards a healthier lifestyle but often struggle with getting all the nutrients they need from their diet. They are also convinced of the benefits of supplements, however supplements are expensive from the high street in Hong Kong, so I think personalisation and more convenience is something they would welcome.”
Currently, the personalised aspect of its business comes from the online questionnaire, however Stitt pointed out a possibility of working with a DNA testing kit company.
“It is something we are considering but for now we want to keep the product offering as simple as possible. Our quiz aims to provide a similar recommendation a nutritionist would give and is reviewed by our board of doctors, scientists, and nutritionists.”
The firm is currently focusing on its Hong Kong and Singapore market for now, as COVID-19 travel restrictions meant further expansion plans were put on hold.
Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic had affected its supply chain, Stitt said: “We had a few delays with getting inventory in February and March, but it did not impact most customers.”