On October 29, 2021, Ben interviewed Sara Perez Ojalvo, the Director of Research & Development at Nutrition21, the ingredient development powerhouse that’s behind key sports nutrition, dietary, and performance ingredients like Nitrosigine, nooLVL, Chromax, and Velositol.
Meet Sara Perez Ojalvo and the Nutrition21 Way of Doing Things
Sara has been with Nutrition21 for seven years. When she first started, the brand’s focus was on Nitrosigine, a new patented nitric oxide booster in the form of inositol-stabilized arginine silicate, but it only had one study published at the time. Sara’s job is to design new research to demonstrate to the scientific and consumer communities that the ingredient is safe, efficacious, and beneficial for its purposes.
Sara graduated from the prominent Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a degree in Biology. She decided against medical school and lab-work, wanting to be in science yet not in the lab on a day-to-day basis.
When she began, Sara oversaw three simultaneous studies with funding the company had available. It’s her job to work with sales and marketing to see what consumers and brands are asking for, and to see if they can deliver an ingredient that works both in the lab and in the real world.
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Nutrition21 the research company
As we’ve said numerous times on PricePlow, Nutrition21 is more of a research company than just a novel ingredient developer. Much of this is covered in our article titled The Evolution of Nutrition21’s Sports Nutrition Ingredients. Ben also brings up the unique Arkansas study that pitted Nitrosigine against citrulline malate, and showed that Nitrosigine was comparable to citrulline malate at less than a fourth of the dose!
Nitrosigine and cognitive function… leading to nooLVL
When funding studies, Nutrition21 enjoys collecting as much data as possible, because you’re never sure what you’ll find. While Nitrosigine is a pre workout ingredient, they figured they would study some cognitive function parameters as well, not fully sure if they’d hit anything big. It turned out that Nitrosigine did improve cognitive function — within 15 minutes — and this eventually led to the creation of NooLVL, which was focused on gamers.
NooLVL was then studied on gamers in their gaming studies, played with modern games, and much of that is covered in our article titled nooLVL: Next-Gen Focus Ingredient for Gaming Supplements. Mechanistically, the effect makes sense – the increased nitric oxide from both Nitrosigine and nooLVL don’t just increase blood flow and oxygenation for the muscles, they work for the brain as well!
Future nooLVL research
Sara discusses where nooLVL research may go next: in previous research, they allowed gamers to play their favorite games between their cognitive battery tests. However, because of this, there was too much variability, and they couldn’t collect consistent data regarding in-game performance data. In future studies, it’d be great to standardize on a single game altogether to look at performance as well.
The latest nooLVL research is covered in our article titled nooLVL Increases Short-term Memory and Reaction Time: New Study, which Sara discusses as well.
Latest Velositol Research
Sara then discusses Velositol, Nutrition21’s protein-enhancing ingredient that’s based upon a chromium complex with amylopectin, which combine forces to drive higher rates of muscle protein synthesis. Sara discusses the latest study, which we covered in our article titled Velositol Increases Exercise Performance: New University Study Published.
Ben asks about using Velositol with amino acids, and Sara states that it will work, but focuses on the amount of total essential amino acids in a product that they’re working with.
At 16:38 in the YouTube video above, Sara gives an incredible explanation of how Velositol works. She explains that the amylopectin gives a quick insulin boost, while the chromium is an insulin sensitizer, and they join forces to bind and drive nutrients (such as your protein) into the muscles.
Back to Chromax
Sara notes that Chromax, Nutrition21’s chromium picolinate ingredient that’s been out for over 25 years, hasn’t been studied in a while, and most research pertains to metabolically damaged individuals. They’re now looking at Chromax’s effects on healthy users, since previous studies using chromium on healthy populations were too small and used older methodologies in a wildly different food environment.
What is SupplySide West?
As Ben explains in the audio feed’s introduction (embedded above), they were together at SupplySide West (SSW), a food and ingredients exposition and gathering in the health and nutrition industries held annually in Las Vegas. SupplySide West can be considered “The Olympia of Ingredients”, where nutritional supplement experts from the entire supply chain meet to conduct business and showcase their latest products, services, and innovations.
2021’s Theme: Unity in the supplement community
Given the recent supply chain issues that all industries are dealing with, Ben noted offline that 2021’s SSW was a bit different. He mentioned that there was less focus on innovation and competition, but more community-driven problem-solving and togetherness, since everyone has been dealing with the same global monetary problems. This has brought the majority of the industry supply-chain together, as the entire ecosystem can rise and fall based upon supply chain and monetary policies, and almost nobody can escape these issues.
This was a short but incredibly informative interview, and we always encourage anyone interested in diving deeper into the supplement industry to follow our Nutrition21 news alerts and see about attending SupplySide West when possible.
Podcast Show Notes Posted at https://blog.priceplow.com/podcast/sara-perez-ojalvo-nutrition21-055