NEM® - a Joint Health Ingredient for All

Joint health was one of the first major categories of dietary supplements. The first products were designed to meet the needs of mature customers experiencing the challenges related to wear-and-tear on aging joints, and most of them contained glucosamine. Glucosamine dominated the ingredient category for over 25 years and chondroitin began to show up alone or in combination products with glucosamine around 15 years ago. Glucosamine and chondroitin are still the main ingredients in most joint health products, but they both have significant shortcomings. The established daily dose for both is high (1500 mg for glucosamine and 1200 mg for chondroitin) and the time for significant benefit is long, up to 4 months or more. Therefore, a serving of either requires multiple capsules or tablets, and even more when the two ingredients are combined. In addition, both have become commodity ingredients supplied from all over the world, resulting in a large variation in quality. To make matters worse, chondroitin is easily adulterated. So, the high demand for glucosamine and/or chondroitin has resulted in poor quality ingredients flooding the market. Over the years, other ingredients were introduced, boasting lower dosages and efficacy within a shorter time period. But the clinical trial research and physician support for alternative ingredients has been slower to catch up.

Stratum Nutrition manufactures and supplies NEM® brand eggshell membrane, a partially hydrolyzed eggshell membrane ingredient exceptionally suited to joint health applications. Through a patented gentle enzymatic process, the natural eggshell membrane is predigested just enough to begin digesting the fibrous membrane and release the nutrients within. This unique partial digestion enables the valuable components within NEM to benefit joint health in two different ways. First, the combination of partial digestion and the body’s own digestive processes ensure that the bioactive components within NEM are optimally bioaccessible for absorption through the intestinal wall and utilization in joint tissue. And, secondly, the pre-digestion releases peptides, specifically collagen peptides, that interact with the gut immune system and help facilitate NEM’s functioning systemically via oral tolerance. This 2-prong functioning would not be possible if NEM were either fully hydrolyzed or unhydrolyzed.

NEM® is unique in other ways as well. NEM is one of the few joint health ingredients, and the only eggshell membrane ingredient that is supported by a full portfolio of research studies, including 4 randomized placebo-controlled trials, 2 of which are healthy person trials; 4 open label clinical trials, 3 of which are independent trials; veterinary trials, including one canine RCT; and a wide range of supporting in vitro and in vivo mechanism of action studies. In addition, both subjective and objective endpoints are used, giving the results additional credibility and substantiation. These studies also stand out in their consistency. The clinical trials all use the same 500 mg dose and the animal studies use the human-equivalent dose. The results all reveal statistically positive results for the primary and secondary endpoints, including objective endpoints that are not subject to a placebo-effect. And all but the most recent study are published in peer-reviewed journals and are open access to enable easy review and scrutiny by Stratum’s customers.

There have been two significant developments in recent months related to research on NEM®. First is the publication of the research involved in the development of a clinical trial design for evaluating the effects of joint therapeutics on cartilage turnover in healthy subjects, using levels of a biomarker of cartilage metabolism and breakdown (CTX-II) as an indicator of increased exercise-induced cartilage breakdown.

A second healthy person trial evaluating the effects of NEM supplementation on joint cartilage breakdown as well as the pain and stiffness associated with a new exercise regimen was also completed in recent months. This randomized placebo-controlled trial builds upon the results from the previous trial in post-menopausal women, expanding the age criteria and including both men and women in the study population.

NEM® provides the perfect alternative to glucosamine and/or chondroitin. The 500 mg research-supported dose is much smaller, the time for significant improvements in discomfort and stiffness ranges from 4-10 days, and the research portfolio is large and growing. NEM is also sourced from the U.S., environmentally friendly, and sustainable.

The joint health category will continue to be large and is beginning to trend downward in the age of the consumer seeking out these products. Younger men and women who are active are very attuned to the stress that exercise puts on their muscles and joints and they look for ingredients to help them maintain their active lifestyle. NEM® is an ideal choice for both the active younger person and the more mature consumer concerned about the inevitable joint wear-and-tear of life activities. Not only has NEM been studied in individuals who already have experienced the repercussions of normal joint wear-and-tear, it has been researched in healthy post-menopausal women and in younger men and women for benefits related to exercise-induced joint pain, stiffness and cartilage breakdown.

NEM® is an ideal standalone ingredient, but also functions well with other joint support or general health ingredients to create unique formulations. For example, one of the most popular ingredients right now is collagen. Both hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) as well as unhydrolyzed (native collagen) have become recognized ingredients for a variety of applications including skin care, joint health and general anti-aging formulas. Collagen ingredients would be ideal additional ingredients to add to a custom formulation containing NEM because of NEM’s natural content of Types I, V, and X collagen. NEM is especially suited to custom formulations containing multiple ingredients because it doesn’t interfere in the metabolism or absorption of other ingredients or pharmaceuticals. In addition, NEM is suitable for placement in a variety of product formats in addition to capsules and tablets, including chews, food bars, confections, and powdered protein shakes.