NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023

Not just for the elderly: Cognitive support probiotic strain sold as food for general population in Japan – WATCH

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags morinaga milk industry Probiotic Bifidobacterium

While supplements for cognitive support are commonly designed for the middle-aged and older adults, Japan is seeing companies selling such products in the form of functional foods for the general population.

Morinaga Milk Industry is one such example. The company has so far introduced different types of health supplements and functional foods containing its proprietary probiotic strain Bifidobacterium breve​ MCC 1274 that has been shown to provide cognitive support.

The range of products include yogurt, yogurt drinks, health supplement capsules, and powder used in clinical settings at a higher dosage.

The versatility in dosage formats also means that the probiotic ingredient could be designed into products catered to different consumers – not just seniors who are more prone to cognitive decline, said Dr Chyn Boon Wong, assistant manager, marketing, and scientific affairs.

The yogurt version, for example, is catered to the general public who want to consume yogurt and enjoy its benefit of cognitive support at the same time.

“In Japan, we have launched three kinds of products containing MCC 1274. The first is a clinical product that has a higher dosage of MCC1274. It is in a powder format and is suitable for seniors who are experiencing forgetfulness and are concerned about their memory function.

“We also have supplement products that are suitable for the general population, in particular, those who are in the middle age and want to improve their memory function.

The third kind of product is a general food, namely a yogurt and yogurt drink that is more for people who want to enjoy yogurt and in addition, enjoy its benefits of improving their cognitive function. This is for different people, no matter their age,” ​said Dr Wong.

In the NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023 held in September, Bifidobacterium breve​ MCC 1274 took home the Ingredient of the Year (cognitive function) award for its scientific evidence and dosage format versatility.

The other two finalists competing for the title were Care4U Neuravena Green Oat Extract from IFF and Sensoril Ashwagandha from Kerry Ingredients.

Like the other probiotic strains from Morinaga, MCC 1274 is also a human residential bifidobacteria (HRB) strain, which the company believes is superior to non-HRB strains for human health.

In Japan, functional foods and supplements containing the strain has been allowed to make health claims related to “maintaining memory and spatial awareness”. ​Across the country, other ingredients typically used in cognitive function include DHA / EPA and ginkgo biloba extract.

According to the awards judging panel, the ingredient has stood out for its “wealth of scientific evidence”, ​coupled with “clear evidence of commercial success spanning a number of products in Japan and overseas.”

“It's a great honour to receive this award and I want to say thank you to our co-workers involved in this work,”​ said Hirofumi Miyauchi, section head, Probiotics Production Technology Research Section, Food Ingredients & Technology Institute, R&D Division at Morinaga Milk Industry.

The science behind it

The strain has been shown to improve the memory functions of adults aged 50 to 79 and were suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), based on findings of a 16-week trial.

Involving 80 individuals, the trial required them to take two capsules each containing 10 billion CFU of MCC 1274 or the placebo.

Significant improvement in immediate memory was reported in the intervention group, based on the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) tool.

Watch the video to find out more.

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