Taking on nutraceuticals in your practice can be daunting, but the breadth of benefits they can have for many populations allows for the opportunity to have the nutrition conversation with nearly all your patients. This post can give you the starting point to introduce nutraceuticals in your practice – regardless of average patient age.
Nutraceuticals World recently shared an article where experts weighed in on the emerging opportunity nutraceuticals provide to patient protocols. As Baby Boomers age, Millennials surpass them in size, and healthcare costs rise, the benefits of proactive care through nutrition grow. According to Terri Rieger, OD, “More and more people are concerned for their overall health and wellness, and a demand for improved nutrition is growing, too. [Nutraceuticals] are a great way for people to improve their nutritional intake without drastically modifying their lifestyles.”
Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global marketing and sales at Horphag Research, knows that supplements are a big part of that growth and demand. “We anticipate continued interest in supplements that promote eye health across a spectrum of generations both young and old.”
Nutraceuticals for an Aging Population
As the US population ages, the number of people struggling with vision concerns will increase. With the results from the well-known AREDS and AREDS 2 studies, doctors turn to nutraceuticals as the answers for those who are afflicted with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), an eye health disease greatly dependent on the patient’s age. Of all the ingredients studied, Dr. Rieger points to zeaxanthin and lutein as the most important.
“These two dietary antioxidants help form a protective layer in the back of the eye that guards the eye’s sensitive receptors against damaging effects of light, especially the high-energy short wavelength light rays (blue light). This protective layer, known as macular pigment, also plays a major role in improving visual function like contrast sensitivity, visual sharpness, and light sensitivity.”
Zeaxanthin and lutein are not produced by the body, so diet must be modified to sustain the amount of these antioxidants in the body. Brian Appell, marketing manager, OmniActive Health Technologies, agrees that macular carotenoids are critical, but “like most people, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to meet that daily requirement for protection.”
Nutraceuticals for the Youth
Though nutraceuticals have often been an “older generation” solution, Ceci Snyder, global product manager, Kemin Human Nutrition and Health, stresses that “Eye health should be a concern at all ages.” Melanie Bush, director of berry science, Artemis International, Inc., added, “With younger generations focusing on health, supplementation, and prevention more than their parents or grandparents did at their age, there is more of a focus on keeping eyes healthy longer, rather than trying to ‘treat’ or ‘reverse’ problems once they arise.”
Dr. Rieger spoke about the importance of zeaxanthin and lutein to visual function like photo-stress recovery and glare performance, and Appell sees this as yet another opportunity to offer nutraceuticals. “It’s not just about reducing risk of age-related conditions like AMD anymore, but providing a more immediate benefit to consumers, such as simply seeing better.”
Defense for the Digital Age
Patients now are more exposed to screens and digital devices than ever before. As with most light exposure, blue light, like the kind from screens, has shown a cumulative effect, meaning that the more exposure patients have, the more likely they are to develop issues like tired eyes, eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision.
Zeaxanthin and lutein help absorb this light and keep it from damaging the sensitive cells in the retina. Appell said, “As the implications of increased blue light exposure become more apparent, researchers are continuing to examine how nutrients like macular carotenoids can help protect the eyes from various sources, including prolonged exposure to digital devices.”
As the demand for nutritional products increased, the availability of nutraceuticals has as well. “Our armamentarium of vitamins has expanded and keeps improving,” explains Dr. Rieger. “We can tailor our nutraceutical regimen to the patient’s specific needs for retinal health, dry eye, and more.” The effects of screen time are a newer, emerging patient need that eye care professionals should be taking into consideration, as well as a concern for many parents and opening the children’s market for nutraceuticals.
“The important thing to remember when looking for eye health [nutraceuticals] is the quality and proof behind the product. Because the market is booming, there are a lot of choices, so having a product backed by science and regularly tested to ensure quality is so important for patient outcomes. I trust my patients’ health to EyePromise.”
The Future in Nutrition
For doctors like Rieger, EyePromise® is the next generation with products like Screen Shield™ Teen and Screen Shield Pro (coming soon). EyePromise designed Screen Shield Teen and Screen Shield Pro to protect against the damages and symptoms caused by hours spent on digital devices. Made with all-natural zeaxanthin and lutein, both products are gluten and GMO-free, complement a daily multi-vitamin, and hold NSF Certifications. Differences include:
EyePromise Screen Shield Teen
- One-a-day, chewable fruit punch-flavored tablet
- Designed for ages 4-17
- Simple formula
- Becoming NSF Contents Tested and Certified
EyePromise Screen Shield Pro
- One-a-day softgel
- Designed for ages 18 and up
- Increased levels of zeaxanthin and lutein and other ingredients like Omega-3s, B vitamins, CoQ10, and more to help better support eye and overall health
- NSF Certified for Sport