Todd Spear & Katie Emerson: Nutrition21 at SupplySide West 2022 | PPP #075
In early November of 2022, the SupplySide West convention was held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, showcasing the premiere ingredients and technology in the dietary supplement and functional food industries.
As is tradition, Team PricePlow met with Team Nutrition21 to catch up in-person — Nutriton21 being the industry-leading developer and supplier of dietary supplement ingredients well-known for ingredients such as Nitrosigine, nooLVL, Chromax, and Velositol.
Mike and Ben met with Todd Spear (Sports Nutrition Category Leader) and Katie Emerson (Manager of Scientific Affairs) to discuss the latest research and industry trends coming out of both the industry at large and Nutrition21’s team.
This was a fun, informative, and fast-paced conversation where you get to meet some of the personalities behind the brands. We cover all four of Nutrition21’s ingredients listed above, discuss their research, potential opportunities, and the reasons these ingredients are important in today’s dietary landscape.
You can watch on YouTube below, or listen on your favorite podcast app in our audio feeds:
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0:00 – Opening
Mike and Katie are drinking nooLVL and Ben’s drinking Nitrosigine. Mike briefly mentions that Todd was on the podcast long ago — flashback to #017: What is Velositol? — and Ben recalls the two previous SSW interviews, 2019 with David Sandler and #055: Sarah Perez Ojalvo.
2:00 – Nitrosigine
Ben asks Todd and Katie to explain the beginnings of Nitrosigine, Nutrition21’s patented nitric oxide boosting ingredient that’s scientifically known as inositol-stabilized arginine silicate. They received an official NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) with the FDA in 2013, and have been selling it ever since.
3:15 – Nitrosigine and Cognitive Function
We begin talking about the enhancement of cognitive flexibility that Nitrosigine can support,[3-7] especially when athletes become exhausted.[6,7] This makes sense because blood flows to the brain (not just the muscles) and the inositol component can support neurotransmitters as well.
3:45 – nooLVL vs. Nitrosigine
The above Nitrosigine research led to the creation of nooLVL, a nitric oxide boosting nootropic ingredient that is also based upon inositol-stabilized arginine silicate, but is studied in gamers.[8-10]
nooLVL has more inositol than Nitrosigine, and Katie mentions a new abstract published that explains why they went with the inositol dose they did.
5:30 – What is inositol?
We then get into the specifics of inositol, which is interesting because there’s no conclusive definition for what exactly it is and primarily does. Todd explains some of the detailed chemistry behind its original inclusion in Nitrosigine — before the cognitive component was even explored — and much of it comes down to its ability to stabilize the molecule and enable better silica and arginine ratios.
7:00 – The problems with traditional L-arginine
Mike explains that L-arginine requires huge doses to get clinically significant results, but such doses have been shown in numerous studies to lead to major GI issues.
Nitrosigine, dosed at 1.5 grams, allows for far smaller dosing.
8:30 – The big scoop craze
Ben gets into the super-big scoop craze in supplements, and thinks that we can start backing off of it (he’s been talking about this a lot lately) because of better ingredients like Nitrosigine.
9:30 – Vasodilation and Lowering of Blood Pressure
Todd talks about how Nitrosigine can lead to a modest drop in blood pressure over time:
10:30 – Testing ingredients on gamers
It’s impossible to test if someone played a game like Call of Duty better with an ingredient, due to the incredibly variable nature of the game. So Todd explains how to perform cognitive tests in gamers surrounding gaming events.
Katie explains that one of the best things to look for is the reduction of errors, which is what was conducted in the original nooLVL study published in 2019.
12:00 – Early experiences with Nitrosigine
Ben starts talking about Nitrosigine dose ranges, but Todd first talks about his early experiences with the ingredient back in 2013. It was first launched in one of the Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump supplements.
15:00 – Nitrosigine Dosing
Mike explains that 1500 milligrams is the clinically-verified dose of Nitrosigine for the vast majority of studies, so this is the dose that’s most responsible to use. But were a brand to use, say 1200 milligrams, we’re sure we’d feel some great effects. We just can’t legally make claims for that product based upon most of the studies that used more.
Nutrition21 is a “real company” that does things right, as opposed to some of the ingredient suppliers who just throw ingredients out into the market.
The challenge with 1.5 gram serving sizes is that it’s a fair number of capsules. For instance, Primeval Labs Vasogorge uses 5 capsules per serving (although it does add another 500 milligrams of other ingredients).
But will lower doses, like 1200 milligrams or 750 milligrams still boost nitric oxide levels? Yes – we just can’t make the cognitive flexibility claims tested at larger doses.
19:00 – The point of no return for pumps?
The pump mechanism does have limitations, of course. Todd tells a funny anecdote that if a competitor’s claims were true, people would have been passing out in the gym.
Meanwhile doses of citrulline have continually gotten bigger – but there’s still only so much you can pump a muscle up.
21:30 – A transition back to lower-cost pre-workouts
Keeping an eye on the economy and the international currency markets, it’d be great to get Nitrosigine into more nations. However, the cost is difficult to manage. But in general, we see a potential pullback in supplement prices if the recession continues. Supplements are a luxury.
Todd jokes that he sees each label of every licensed supplement with Nitrosigine, which leads back to dose discussions:
23:30 – The University of Arkansas Study
Todd points out that 1.5 grams of Nitrosigine worked as well (“statistically equal”) as 8 grams of citrulline malate, but if you really look at it, Nitrosigine fared slightly better:
At 24:30, Ben and Katie and Mike and Todd have two sidebars, both talking about the same study listed above. Mike learns that we need to add more images (including the one above) to more of our articles.
25:30 – Stick Packs and Sachets
Less weight means less material, and you can fit Nitrosigine and nooLVL into stick packs — but the clinical dose of citrulline malate would need a larger “sachet”.
With flavoring, the Nitrosigine stick packs everyone was holding was 2.2 grams worth of total material, while nooLVL’s promo packs contained 2.3 grams.
26:30 – Comparing ingredients fairly and measuring them
We’d love to see equivalent doses compared – 1.5 grams of Nitrosigine vs. 1.5 grams of citrulline.
We then discuss how to actually measure the effects (using markers such as serum arginine) since NO is too difficult to measure itself.
Ben argues that there’s probably a sweet spot of using 1.5 grams of Nitrosigine combined with a small amount of citrulline, but you likely wouldn’t need a full dose of it. We don’t have that much research to confirm the perfect cost-effective combination.
29:45 – Any ingredients NOT to combine Nitrosigine / nooLVL with?
There aren’t any known legal dietary supplement ingredients that would cause problems with inositol-stabilized arginine silicate, but this breaks into a conversation about using vasodilators to diminish the effects of aggressive stimulants.
We get into the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position stand on caffeine and exercise performance.
32:15 – Velositol
Velositol is Katie’s favorite ingredient – she talks about her clinical rotations in the hospital, and the answer is often “give them more protein”, but this isn’t always easy or feasible. Similarly, giving athletes huge boluses of protein right after exhaustive training may lead to stomach upset or vomit.
But with Velositol, you can get more out of your protein consumed, by slightly increasing insulin with the amylopectin starch inside and then driving it in with the chromium complex (chromium picolinate and chromium histidinate).
Mike talks about our original Velositol discussion with Todd in Episode #017, and how more data has since come out and is updated in the article linked above.[15-17]
35:00 – Soil mineral levels are worse than ever – need to supplement
It’s well-known that American soil has been depleted by modern monocrop agriculture practices,[18-23] and Mike theorizes that chromium levels are now low too.
In fact, our mineral levels are probably lower and we’re likely more deficient in chromium than when earlier chromium studies were published. Things have gotten far worse since some of this data from the 1980s and 1990s! This theory is discussed in greater detail in our article titled Chromax Chromium Picolinate: 25+ Years of Insulin Sensitivity Improvement.
For this reason, we’d like to see Chromax in more multivitamins.
37:00 – Nutrient timing
We no longer worry too much about getting GDA supplements and chromium in right before a meal, just get it in every day. Likewise, we move into the “anabolic window” research, and Todd discusses that it’s more of a barn door.[25-27]
42:00 – Looking at actual endpoints from Velositol use
While we like to geek out on muscle protein synthesis rates, what really matters to users are the endpoints – such as being able to perform more squat repetitions or jumping higher, both of which Velositol supports.[15-17]
44:15 – Velositol does even more than what’s currently claimed
Todd explains that every proteinogenic amino acid Nutrition21 has tested with Velositol sees improved uptake when combined with the ingredient. He suspects – but cannot officially claim – that it works with every amino acid out there. Because that’s the mechanism of action – improving the function of insulin:
44:50 – Velositol and Collagen?!
This leads Mike to ask for data on Velositol and collagen. This leads into a whole discussion regarding the collagen craze, and how we need to educate the public about the right use of these ingredients. We need to make them work as well as possible and make sure they’re used appropriately, since collagen is not a muscle-building protein.
There have been preclinical trials on other proteins:
49:00 – Velositol should be in protein bars!
Mike makes the argument that Velositol is perfect for lower-dosed protein products like protein bars — flashback to our article titled Velositol: The Missing Link for Protein Bars. We give a shout-out to Marc Lobliner, whose Outright Breakfast Bars are the only ones using Velositol.
50:00 – Appetite suppression from chromium?
Mike talks about the article he wrote titled Chromax and Hunger Regulation: The Chromium / Appetite Connection, and realized with enough digging that much of its effects were due to mood support from the mineral! Todd then explains the connection between depression and carbohydrate cravings and intake. Chromax (chromium picolinate) has been shown to help with this:
52:00 – Body awareness and fitness/nutrition
It’s tough to get exact feedback from your body, so we don’t always know when we’re hungry. Learning body awareness (such as leg cramps necessitating more magnesium) is incredibly beneficial for athletes and non-athletes alike.
55:00 – Bucking the age-old trends of bad nutritional advice
Decades ago, all athletes were made into “carbovores” at the expense of quality proteins and saturated fats, and at least nowadays, kids can find some better support on the internet if they look hard enough.
The conversation goes from there, with old war stories about how much bad advice is out there.
58:30 – What’s next for Nutrition21?
Ben asks what else is out there for Nutrition21, and Katie wants to broaden the market. They’ve done phenomenally in sports nutrition, but these ingredients can go far wider.
With this, they can look at new endpoints, perhaps improved sleep and mood, stress, etc.
We close down with a few Vegas war stories, and a toast with our Nutrition21 shakers.
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