Recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) survey show that multivitamins/multiminerals are the most commonly used dietary supplements, with approximately 40% of men and women reporting use during 2003-2006. More specifically, use of supplemental calcium increased from 28% during 1988–1994 to 61% during 2003-2006 among women aged 60 and older.
Basic messages have been heard and consumers have obviously responded with increased usage. So what’s next? Well, the next generation of minerals is on deck. And this one improves upon the last with better solubility, bioavailability and efficacy, according to industry experts. It seems the next level of consumer awareness won’t be about minerals in general, but rather the form in which they are delivered.
These new forms are causing an evolution of functional products. And in many cases, said Sam Wright, president and CEO, The Wright Group, Crowley, LA, this is causing a blurring of the lines between supplements, foods and beverages. “Consumers, especially Baby Boomers, make food over supplement as their first choice for nutritional benefits, mainly driven by ‘pill fatigue,’ while food manufacturers continue to focus on product innovation,” he said. “The latest market trends show that the last three years have been about functional beverages, but the next three years will be functional foods.”
According to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Boulder, CO, the minerals segment makes up about 8% of the dietary supplement market in the U.S. The good news, according to SPINS, is that mineral sales were up 7.5% in the natural channel in 2009, and according to Symphony IRI, sales were up 4.5% in the food drug and mass (FDM) channel.
NBJ estimates that the minerals category in terms of finished product sales totaled more than $2.1 billion in 2009. On the raw material side, minerals brought in $240 million, a growth of 5% compared to the previous year.
NBJ cites calcium, magnesium and iron as the top three minerals in the market in terms of sales.
“Sales of mineral ingredients averaged 4% growth from 2000-2009, with 2009’s growth of 5% being much closer to the norm than the 7% growth experienced in 2008,” NBJ said in its 2009 Nutrition Industry Overview. Further, “Input pricing remained stable, and the market belonged mostly to European and U.S. suppliers, as China continues to focus elsewhere.”
Once again, NBJ pointed out, growth was strongest for magnesium supplements, which spiked 10% to $340 million. From 2000-2009, magnesium supplement sales posted a CAGR of 14%, while the CAGR for all mineral supplements during this time period was just 5%, NBJ claimed.
The second largest segment for sales growth in 2009 was iron, which also posted nearly 10% growth and $30 million in new sales dollars, according to NBJ. This was followed by calcium, which grew by $60 million (or 5%) to $1.2 billion in 2009.
On the not-so-bright side, chromium sales dropped nearly 3% to $96 million in 2009, while selenium dropped 8% to $57 million. “Chromium sales have been in decline for the last four years, with sales peaking at $125 million in 2005,” NBJ explained.
Calcium, NBJ said, garnered the most media attention with the release of a meta-analysis out of New Zealand in August 2010 linking calcium supplementation to heart-attack risk. “The mainstream media covered this study broadly, but industry advocates and various scientific experts found ample reason to doubt and disparage the results, given calcium’s broad-based support among medical professionals in supporting bone health,” the market researcher said. “Time will tell, but vitamin E suffered mightily from a similar study published in 2005 and has yet to recover.” In fact, NBJ research indicates that vitamin E sales have dropped 61% during the last decade.
Similarly, as this issue went to press, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published another study showing that calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, modestly increase the risk of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction. Researchers say this finding was obscured in the Women’s Health Initiative CaD Study by the widespread use of personal calcium supplements. “A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is warranted,” they concluded. Time will tell, but the potential impact of these studies on calcium sales should not be overlooked.
The Next Generation: It’s All About Form & Function
While still a large market, the minerals segment is no longer posting the high growth numbers seen in years past, according to Kathy Lund, business development and marketing director, AIDP, City of Industry, CA. As a result, companies are exploring other opportunities in an effort to carve out new growth and market share.
“Right now solubility and bioavailability seem to be key areas, along with providing ‘tasteless’ minerals, especially in the case of formulations geared toward children,” Ms. Lund said. “There has also been some compelling research in the area of bioavailability. Over the years the chelating process has improved the bioavailability of various minerals, which has brought positive changes to the market.”
Formulators need minerals they can work with, whether they are designing an energy drink, a children’s gummy product, a bone health supplement or a fortified cereal. But what do they pay attention to most when deciding on the selection of a particular mineral form? AIDP’s Ms. Lund said it varies, depending on the company, the product being formulated and the target audience for that potential product. “Some companies are more price sensitive than others. Some are more quality conscious than others. Regardless, functionality, taste and bioavailability are very important to all of them,” she said. “These are the requests we are seeing most often these days.”
Offering a similar but more detailed view, Jeremy Moore, global business director, Stratum Nutrition, St. Louis, MO, suggested companies take several factors into consideration. “Once the reason for inclusion [of minerals] is clear, then the next series of considerations differs whether we are talking about foods and beverages or supplements,” he said.
In the case of food and beverage applications, taste will obviously weigh heavily in mineral selection. Some of the other parameters include performance and cost. “It is also important to consider the impact [minerals] will have on performance (i.e., texture, shelf life, solubility, etc.),” Mr. Moore said. “Any time we are talking about foods and beverages, cost in use is going to be a major consideration, and there is certainly an upper limit on how much per serving a company can pay.”
As for supplements, Mr. Moore said, “Other important considerations include the amount of space available in the product for the mineral(s), whether or not the form of the mineral is bioavailable, and what potential interactions might occur between the mineral(s) and the other ingredients in the product.”
“Because most supplements in North America are in pill form and contain multiple ingredients, there usually is some restriction on the available space for the mineral,” he added. “This can impact the choice of what form of mineral to use because the percentage of elemental mineral can vary depending on whether we are talking about a salt form or an organic form.”
Mr. Moore went on to say that salts tend to have higher elemental mineral and less expensive cost in use, but the bioavailability, solubility, taste, etc., tend to be poorer compared to organic forms. “It is also important to realize that minerals catalyze many oxidative reactions and this should be considered when formulating a multi-ingredient product,” he explained. “The reactivity of a mineral can vary depending on its form, but in general there are certain ingredients—such as omega 3 fatty acids—that just don’t fit together well with minerals.”
Patrick Stano, vice president, Sales & Marketing North America, Dr. Paul Lohmann Inc., Islandia, NY, agreed, adding that reactivity, metal content and color are also crucial determinants of mineral selection. “These factors may differ in importance depending on the end product and the delivery system,” he explained. “For example, in the case of liquid supplements, solubility, taste and reactivity are the primary factors to consider, while in tablets, color, taste and metal content are probably considered to be more important.”
Mr. Stano said he has also seen an increase in the demand for direct compression (DC) grade products for tablets—primarily for calcium, magnesium and iron salts.
“We have also seen an increase in the demand for micronized minerals for improved liquid supplements due to the ease at which these finer particles go into solution, as well as microencapsulated products to help mask the taste of some products and prevent interaction with other ingredients,” he added. “ We have also seen an increase in the demand for more soluble mineral salts, such as lactates and gluconates.”
Beside form and function, minerals are sometimes judged by the company they keep. In other words, especially in the case of fortification, the synergistic effect between minerals AND vitamins needs to be considered during formulation, according to The Wright Group’s Mr. Wright, who offered some examples.
“Vitamin D has been scientifically proven to help the body to effectively absorb calcium, the same as vitamin C can help the absorption of iron. Studies have also shown that besides vitamin D and calcium, vitamin K and magnesium also play important roles in bone mineralization,” Mr. Wright said. “Properly selecting the combination of minerals and vitamins often provide advantages in marketing new functional food and dietary supplement products.”
“Using microencapsulation technology, micronization technology and nanotechnology, minerals’ properties can be altered,” Mr. Wright added. “Microencapsulated minerals provide formulators options to prevent taste and reactivity issues, while micronization and nanotechnology make the application of insoluble minerals in beverages possible.”
Regardless of what the next generation of minerals looks like, quality will obviously play a big role, according to Mr. Moore. “Some of the mined starting materials for different minerals can have certain contaminants and it is important to be confident of the quality of the product you are buying.”
Going into more detail on heavy metal contamination, Kevin Ruff, PhD, MBA, director of scientific and regulatory affairs, ESM Technologies, Carthage, MO, said, “Since most minerals are mined from the ground, they can be alarmingly high in heavy metal contaminants if not further purified. ESC (eggshell calcium) [from ESM] is one of a select few all-natural (non-mined) mineral sources that is also essentially free of heavy metals. Lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium are tested down to parts per billion (ppb) levels for every lot of ESC that we sell.”
Importantly, he added, “That makes ESC 50-450 times below California Proposition 65 limits for these four heavy metal contaminants at the full Daily Value of 1000 mg per day for calcium.”
New Launches & Opportunities
At AIDP, things are starting to heat up in the magnesium department. “We are currently working with a company to develop a new form of magnesium indicated for cognitive support, particularly memory and focus,” Ms. Lund explained. “Human studies are pending, but what we know now is that this form of magnesium crosses the blood-brain barrier more readily compared to other forms of magnesium.” The company expects to release this product in the coming months.
Undoubtedly, according to Paul Dijkstra, CEO, InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Benicia, CA, one of the “hottest” minerals to grab attention over the last decade has been chromium, an essential trace mineral required for normal insulin function. “The diabetes epidemic and associated metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) have further increased interest and attention,” he said. “However, there are many forms of chromium on the market and they differ tremendously in terms of safety and efficacy.”
To address this need, InterHealth recently launched Zychrome, a patent-pending chromium dinicocysteinate (a complex of niacin, L-cysteine and chromium). “Zychrome was shown to significantly reduce insulin levels as well as insulin resistance by 30% after three months in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Zychrome was also shown to significantly reduce inflammatory cytokine TNF-α by more than 20%. This is an important marker as TNF-α is associated with insulin resistance,” Mr. Dijkstra explained.
Changing gears, The Wright Group’s Mr. Wright highlighted some recent finished product releases. “A calcium-fortified cookie was launched to the market last year by Dr. Siegal & Son, with 30% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) amount of calcium,” he said. “It is being positioned as a snack food that provides calcium supplementation and relieves occasional heartburn.”
“In addition, last month the Wrigley Company launched a calcium-fortified gum in Australia and New Zealand, claiming its ‘on-the-go’ delivery can help address the reported calcium intake deficiency among 90% of Australia’s population,” Mr. Wright said. “The gum is designed to deliver 10% of the RDI for the mineral per two pieces after 20 minutes of chewing. The calcium with the act of chewing together will promote the benefit for dental health.”
On the supply side, Mr. Wright said interest in minerals from natural sources has increased due to consumer demand. “Besides traditional sources such as eggshell, milk and whey, ingredient companies are exploring other alternatives. Last year, a magnesium concentration was created by extracting magnesium from mineral water, then adding it to a lemon balm by France-based Activ’Inside,” he explained. “The ingredient allows manufacturers to make magnesium-related health claims approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and can be used in products for sports nutrition, performance and energy, stress, sleep disorders and bone health.”
ConsumerLab.com says consumers must choose wisely when it comes to iron supplements.
According to a new report from ConsumerLab.com, White Plains, NY, the cost to get an equivalent dose of iron from supplements varies by more than 100-fold. “A 25 mg dose of iron can cost as little as $.02 or more than $2, depending on the product,” the company said.
In addition to the cost analysis, ConsumerLab.com conducted laboratory tests and label reviews on iron supplements. In contrast to ConsumerLab.com’s 2008 report on iron supplements—in which 20% of selected supplements failed to meet quality standards—all products in the current review contained their listed amounts of iron and did not exceed contamination limits for lead. However, one product violated FDA labeling requirements by displaying a heart symbol on its label, representing an unapproved health claim.
Iron is required to prevent and treat anemia. Iron deficiency is most common in menstruating women but also is commonly seen in children, pregnant women, and among people taking drugs that reduce stomach acid. Even mild iron deficiency may cause fatigue and impair learning, memory and sports performance. Individual needs for supplemental iron vary and different forms may be better tolerated than others. According to Nutrition Business Journal, sales of iron supplements in the U.S. have grown steadily over the years, reaching more than $300 million in 2009, up 10% from the prior year.
“It is great that all of the iron supplements in this review were found to be of high quality, but people using iron supplements must choose carefully to be sure they are getting the right form, the right dose and are not spending more money than necessary,” said Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com.
The report includes results for 16 products made with a variety of forms of iron, including carbonyl iron, ferrous bisglycinate, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate and ferrous sulfate, as well as heme iron polypeptide, iron protein succinylate, polysaccharide iron complex and plant-based iron. Dosage forms include: regular capsule, vegan capsule, liquid, time-release tablet and plain tablet.