- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

Japanese researchers say they've discovered the first genuinely "new" vitamin in 55 years and it may prove to be a fertility enhancer. This could cause considerable hubbub in the billion-dollar vitamin supplement industry.
Pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ, is a member of the B-vitamin group, the researchers explain. But in a statement released Friday, the Tokyo-based Institute of Physical and Chemical Research announced it had studied one particular effect of PQQ on mice.
Those deprived of it had markedly lowered fertility and "roughened fur," according to project director Takafumi Kato. PQQ played "an important role" in fertility, he said, adding that humans usually react much like rodents to such substances.
More research was on the way to expand upon their theory, he said, noting that PQQ is the "first new vitamin to be discovered since 1948." It comes from fermented soybeans, parsley, green tea, green peppers, kiwi fruit and papaya.
New scientific research generates keen interest among manufacturers hoping to woo a supplement-happy society with deep pockets.
About 40 percent of Americans take vitamins, spending close to $2 billion a year, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the University of Wisconsin two years ago.
The conversion of research from lab to store shelf does not take long.
Proctor & Gamble, for example, announced Thursday, that it would begin manufacturing "Oil of Olay" brand vitamins after researchers at the University of Miami confirmed that Vitamin K could help troubled skin.
"Whether dark circles under the eyes are a result of aging, genetics or sun damage, Vitamin K has been shown to reduce the puffiness and discoloration associated with this oftentimes troubling problem," Miami University dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann told a forum at the American Academy of Dermatology on March 23.
Bausch & Lomb, meanwhile, reports that sales of its new line of ophthalmic "eye care" vitamin supplements rose 16 percent in the past three months.
Their Ocuvite-brand vitamins were developed on research from the National Eye Institute, which announced in 2001 that zinc and antioxidant vitamins reduced the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 25 percent and could reduce the risk of vision loss caused by the condition by 19 percent.
The public's vitamin fascination also inspires invention.
The Japan-based Fuji Spinning Co. developed a cloth containing Vitamin C two years ago, and now manufactures "V-Up," a women's T-shirt that allows wearers to absorb the vitamin content of two lemons each time they put it on. The vitamin remains effective for 30 washes, Fuji claims, and is also good for the skin.
Another version containing Vitamin E is also under development, as is a cloth called "Wonder Slim," which incorporates caffeine and seaweed extract said to promote weight loss, according to the company.
"Women can make up their face but they cannot make up their body," spokesman Makoto Suzuki told the British Broadcasting Corp. last year, adding that Fuji is working on vitamin-enhanced underwear and exercise clothing plus a clothing line that repels pollen.

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