“In general, women are higher consumers of healthcare than men,” said Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, physician, teacher and author. “From using supplements to promote a healthy pregnancy to transitioning through menopause—many women are looking for natural ways to promote health and improve their overall quality of life.”
More U.S. women (71%) take dietary supplements than men (65%), according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2015 Consumer Survey. Top concerns among female supplement users include overall wellness (56%), filling nutritional gaps (34%) and bone health (31%). Tied at 27%, women also ranked energy, immune health and healthy aging as the top reasons they take supplements.
“Market research by HealthFocus International has shown that women are the primary shoppers for their families and this would include buying the household’s dietary supplements,” said Evan DeMarco, market development manager with Germany-based KD Pharma. He suggested that top concerns for women’s health include maintaining mental sharpness and normal activities with age, bone health and strength, cancer and cardiovascular health.
Why do more women turn to supplements? Golan Raz, vice president of the health nutrition division at Lycored, Orange, NJ, suggested it’s because women might just be the smarter sex. “To start, women are simply smarter than men. Taking supplements is a form of preventive measurement and women are known to be more prevention oriented. From our experience, not only are women more active consumers when it comes to nutrition and dietary supplements, in many cases they are also the one to buy supplements for their male partner. For example, Lycopene for prostate health is being purchased in many cases by women and being used by men.”
As more women turn to dietary supplements to protect themselves and their families through various stages of life, trends favoring natural ingredients, personalized formulas and the preference for clinically validated products have emerged.
In a report from Euromonitor International, “Optimizing Development: The Growing Paediatric and Prenatal Supplements Market,” author Mark Strobel indicated that sales of pregnancy multivitamins grew nearly 8% (CAGR) in North America from 2008-2013. The market research firm predicted sales of prenatal supplements would continue to climb, as more mothers-to-be are informed about the importance of proper nutrition during gestation.
In addition, more mothers in North America today have increased disposable incomes, as well as higher levels of education, according to Mr. Strobel. The report cited research from “The U.S. Fertility Forecast” from Demographic Intelligence that indicated births among more affluent and educated women are increasing, highlighting that the share of births among women with at least some college education grew to 58% in 2013 compared to 50% in 2007. Further contributing to the upward mobility of mothers today is the growing trend of delaying motherhood in pursuit of higher education and career advancement.
These factors combined present the industry with a financially stable, intelligent consumer audience ready and willing to purchase supplements to protect their child’s and their own health.
However, waiting later to start a family presents a new set of challenges to women, according to Marci Clow, MS, RDN, senior nutritionist with Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, Santa Cruz, CA. “Women are seeking help with reproductive health, which can be attributed to many factors, most notably the fact that many women are trying to become pregnant later in life (after age 35) and end up facing fertility issues. Women 35 and older are generally looking for products to support natural conception by boosting reproductive hormones, or are using supplements as an adjunct to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).”
To meet the needs of this emerging sub-group, Rainbow Light crafted Embrace Prenatal 35+, the first prenatal multivitamin formulated specifically for the needs of women over age 35. It contains a complete multivitamin profile, plus a bioflavonoid blend to support the microcirculatory system for healthy blood pressure and circulation, and targeted nutrients to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
“The inspiration behind this product was that in the past two decades the number of first time moms over the age of 35 has more than doubled and there were essentially no products available that specifically addressed this age group,” explained Ms. Clow. “Nutrition is a critical aspect for any aged woman, but moms who are 35 and over may be twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, a precursor to preeclampsia.” Preeclampsia is a common condition that results in a rapid spike in blood pressure during the last trimester of pregnancy, accompanied by swelling and protein in the urine. It can be life-threatening to mother and baby if left untreated.
Younger women are also looking for carefully formulated products to support a healthy pregnancy. Dr. Low Dog stressed that all sexually active women of reproductive age should be taking a multivitamin that provides 70-100% of the daily value for all B-vitamins including 400 mcg of folate (folic acid). “Pregnant women should take a prenatal supplement that includes all of the necessary nutrients including 600 mcg of folate, 18 mg of iron, 150 mcg of iodine and 100-300 mg of choline, a nutrient that is critically important to the baby’s neurological development. She should also ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D.”
Calcium supplementation during pregnancy is particularly important, according to Dr. Low Dog, in order to help regulate the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. “A review of clinical trials found that when women supplemented with at least 1,000 mg per day of calcium starting at approximately 20 weeks of pregnancy (34 weeks of pregnancy at the latest), they had a lower risk of developing gestational hypertension and preeclampsia,” she said, citing a 2014 study published in BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Choline has also emerged as a critical nutrient for the developing child. “Like folic acid, choline may play a role in preventing birth defects and may provide the child lifelong protection against anxiety and exaggerated responses to stressors,” said Dr. Low Dog. Preliminary research recently published in the journal Current Alzheimer Research, suggested choline may offer protection against Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. “The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 450 mg per day and 550 mg per day if breastfeeding. Breastfed babies have a high need for choline in their mothers’ milk to ensure brain development in areas involved with thought and memory.” Dr. Low Dog pointed out that while FDA requires choline be included in infant formula, most prenatal supplements do not contain the nutrient, thus making choline supplementation in breastfeeding mothers especially important.
Through a collaboration with FoodState’s MegaFood brand, Dr. Low Dog helped to develop the company’s Baby & Me 2 prenatal supplement, which boasts 300 mg of choline, in addition to 600 mcg of methylfolate (the active form of folate), 150 mcg of iodine, and food-based iron, which she said is easier on the GI tract.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that American women ages 20-39 have borderline iodine insufficiency, which Dr. Low Dog said is troubling, considering low iodine in pregnancy has been linked to lower IQ and mental retardation in babies. “The American Thyroid Association now recommends that all pregnant and nursing women take a vitamin that provides 150 mcg of iodine as potassium iodide every day,” she stated.
Ms. Clow explained that folic acid is another crucial and well-known nutrient needed during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs), which affect the brain and spinal cord. “NTDs originate in the first month of pregnancy, before many know they are pregnant, which is why all women of child-bearing age need adequate folic acid.”
Research has shown that 70% of neural tube defects could be prevented with folic acid supplementation, underscoring the critical importance of supplementation before conception, she added. “Folic acid plays other important roles during pregnancy, including helping the mother to produce additional blood cells, aiding in the growth of the placenta and fetus, and producing new DNA as cells multiply.”
Iron is necessary for manufacturing hemoglobin in both maternal and fetal red blood cells, noted Ms. Clow, adding that iron also helps keep up blood volume demands of pregnancy. “The fetus assures its own production of hemoglobin by drawing upon iron stores from the mother, which can result in iron deficiency, anemia, labor and delivery complications, and an increased risk of a pre-term or low birth weight infant.”
Omega-3s, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are of significant importance during the final trimester of pregnancy, when neurological development really takes off. DHA is found in high concentration in the baby’s brain and eyes, noted Dr. Low Dog. She cited a recent scientific review published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, which concluded that omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce the risk of preventing premature birth.
Babies need a consistent supply of DHA to ensure proper development and function of the central nervous system throughout the first two years of life, which is why Dr. Low Dog urged omega-3 supplementation for breastfeeding mothers. “DHA is added to infant formula, but the level in breast milk depends exclusively on the mother’s diet,” she said. “Women should consume three servings per week of low-mercury fatty fish throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding, or strongly consider taking a supplement that provides a minimum of 200 mg DHA per day.”
KD Pharma developed a line of omega-3 concentrates that have numerous benefits for women, according to the company’s Mr. DeMarco. “Our new KD Smart 4DHA:1EPA omega-3 blend is perfect for prenatal and post-partum nutrition, ensuring both mom and baby get the essential fatty acids they need at this critical stage.”
Mr. DeMarco observed that many women who begin supplementing with omega-3s during pregnancy become lifelong users. This, he said, benefits the supplement user long-term as “high DHA formulations continue to be important in maintaining critical vision and brain function throughout a women’s life.” He added, “Of course both EPA and DHA omega-3s are important overall for their proven role in maintaining cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation and improving mood health, the latter two being key to the success of KD Active—launched last year by KD Pharma.”
Menstrual Support & PMS
According to Ms. Clow, women are looking for herbal remedies to address the unpleasant symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle, including cramping, breast tenderness, mood swings, insomnia and fatigue. Many of these symptoms are experienced prior to a woman’s period, and are collectively referred to as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.
One natural ingredient proven to support women in dealing with menstrual symptoms is Pycnogenol, a French maritime pine bark extract from Switzerland-based supplier Horphag Research. Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Sébastien Bornet said the ingredient has gained attention in the women’s health category due to its ability to modulate inflammatory response, helping to naturally soothe the discomfort of menstrual symptoms.
In fact, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine discovered that Pycnogenol’s “anti-inflammatory properties can naturally soothe the discomfort associated with menstrual symptoms, as well as alleviate cramping and abdominal pains without side effects,” noted Mr. Bornet.
He further referenced research published in the International Journal of Women’s Health, which indicated Pycnogenol increased the efficacy of oral contraceptives for the treatment of endometriosis-related symptoms, including severe menstrual pain. “Fifty-six percent of participants reported complete resolution of pain after three months of treatment,” said. Mr. Bornet.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus in areas such as the pelvic lining, colon, ovaries or bowel, causing pain and discomfort.
Menopause & Healthy Aging
Women aged 55+ are expected to account for nearly 40% of the 18+ female population in the U.S. by 2019, according to market research from London-based Mintel. As the aging female demographic grows, Mintel suggested a need for products targeting the concerns of older women, including supplements supporting heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and menopause.
“The market for anti-aging products is incredibly strong and continuing to grow,” said Ms. Clow. “Many people who fall into either the Baby Boomer or Generation X customer group are looking for products that could support maintaining their health, beauty and fitness and are willing to invest in anti/healthy aging type products.”
Dealing with the symptoms of menopause is of particular interest to this audience. In fact, Mintel reported that 29% of respondents from a survey of 1,039 women ranked menopause as a top health issue for them, or someone close to them.
Ms. Clow noted key concerns associated with menopause often include “hot flashes, lowered sex drive, reduced vaginal lubrication, depression, fatigue/difficulty sleeping, and concerns about increased risk of reproductive cancers, weakened bones with increased risk of fractures, and accelerated aging.”
Of the many natural approaches, she cited vitex, black cohosh and genistein-containing products as her top picks for menopausal support. These ingredients have a “long history of safe human use, and a large body of research showing effectiveness for relieving many of the symptoms that can arise during the menopause years.”
Although less clinical trials are available for dong quai, Ms. Clow said it is still worth recommending because it is one of the world’s most widely-revered herbs for easing symptoms associated with the woman’s reproductive cycle, such as fatigue, dryness and hot flashes. “Dong quai has been a widely-known women’s remedy for many centuries in Asian cultures,” she said.
Alison Eastwood, RD, CLE, a San Francisco-based food and nutrition expert and educator, and Soy Connection expert, suggested soy isoflavone intake can help support women as they age, in a variety of ways. “Soy isoflavone intake has been shown to improve menopause symptoms such as the frequency and duration of hot flashes. Research and experience has led me to have patients and clients consume isoflavone-rich soyfoods or isoflavone supplements daily.”
Additionally, soy is an important functional food to consume during menopause, she said, as declining bone mass associated with this time in life often leads to osteoporosis. “Since many soyfoods such as milk and tofu are fortified or made using calcium and vitamin D, their daily intake can improve bone health. The epidemiological research shows that Asian women who have higher soyfood intake have about one-third-reduction in fracture risk. It is still unclear if soy isoflavones affect mineral density in women.”
Mr. Raz said carotenoids are essential for women’s health, and noted that Lycored has invested its research efforts around the area of bone health—particularly the support of bone health of post-menopausal women. “As healthy bones require a balance between two types of bone cells known as osteoclasts and osteoblasts, we have found that lycopene plays a dominant role in the bone formation cycle. It was demonstrated in multiple pre-clinical and clinical studies that the consumption of lycopene supports healthy bone biomarkers in the general population and especially in post-menopausal women. As a result of our research program, we have developed Lyc-O-Fem. This product is a one-a-day dietary supplement that contains a synergistic and patented blend of lycopene, genestein and vitamin D.” The product was specifically designed for healthy, post-menopausal women, and has been shown to support bone health.
Helios Corp, Santa Fe, NM, has built its company platform around helping women manage the symptoms of menopause. Michael Jeffers, the company’s president, said the ingredient EstroG-100 is backed by three human clinical studies and nine clinical support studies that demonstrate it works faster than black cohosh and many other nutraceutical options. “EstroG-100, when evaluated in multiple human clinical studies, supported the management of insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, which contributes to the support of menopause, female intimacy and sleep,” he said.
Mr. Jeffers suggested EstroG-100 is a safe alternative to black cohosh, which is known for problems with adulteration. “We struggle with the notion that black cohosh is imported and sold into the U.S. without challenge for identification that this botanical is really the correct species,” he said. “According to the American Botanical Council, black cohosh is considered the most adulterated botanical in the U.S. due to the economics that U.S. consumption exceeds the production of the correct species by 40%.”
Pycnogenol also provides benefit for menopause support. Research suggests it supports vascular relaxation (Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 2013), which allows the body to rid itself of excess heat, subsidizing the sensation of hot flashes and nighttime sweating. An additional study published in Panminverva Medica (2012) found daily supplementation of Pycnogenol to substantially improve signs and symptoms of menopause transition.
Mr. Bornet further cited a 2007 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology saying the results revealed “Pycnogenol reduces ‘climacteric symptoms’ such as hot flashes, depression, panic attacks, cholesterol and other common symptoms associated with women entering menopause transition.”
Gencor, Irvine, CA, offers ingredients to support women in menopause with its formula Genopause. The company also offers Slimaluma for satiety and weight management; Activamp for AMP Kinase Activation, visceral/abdominal adiposity management and metabolic syndrome; and Libifem H for maintaining healthy estrogen levels and female libido. R.V. Venkatesh, managing director with Gencor noted the company is currently conducting randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials on its ingredients.
NutraGenesis, Brattleboro, VT, markets and sells the branded ingredient Sendara, specifically designed to meet the health needs of women. Bruce Abedon, PhD, director of scientific affairs for the company, said Sendara “is a proprietary formulation consisting of multi-patented, clinically tested extracts of two of Ayurvedic medicine’s most revered botanicals—ashwagandha and amla (Indian Gooseberry). These complementary ingredients keep women looking and feeling their best by addressing the health areas women are most concerned about, including stress, weight gain, aging of the skin, fatigue, menopause, cognitive function and sleep.” He added that 16 human clinical trials, as well as additional pre-clinical testing, have been conducted on the ingredients in Sendara and the combined formulation.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial, consumption of the amount of ashwagandha extract found in the recommended dose of Sendara led to significant improvements in stress, irritability, mood, fatigue reduction, sleep and mental cognition (JANA, 2008). Discussing the research, Dr. Abedon noted, “These areas often are challenging for women as they age because of their association with menopause and the aging process.”
In addition, he pointed to several in vitro studies, which have shown that Sendara possesses significant antioxidant properties and helps inhibits collagenase and hyaluronidase enzymes. “These provide healthy aging benefits by supporting collagen and hyaluronic acid, which are important for maintenance of healthy, youthful-looking skin,” he said.
Unfortunately, as women age, their overall cancer risk increases. Ms. Eastwood with Soy Connection stated that among the biggest benefits of consuming soyfood is lowering breast cancer risk in women, especially if consumed in adolescence or childhood.
Consuming soy as an adult also provides benefits. “As adults, women can lower their overall cancer risk by including whole soyfoods in the diet, such as soymilk, edamame, tofu, etc.—as soyfoods are often rich in antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber,” she said.
However, there has been concern and confusion with some studies looking at soyfood consumption and the prognosis of breast cancer patients, and even a fear that soyfood consumption may increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. “Most of these studies have been in vitro (i.e., test tube/petri dish) and rodent studies, which doesn’t necessarily translate to what really happens in a woman’s body. There are about five to six clinical studies that have done a good job evaluating the effects of soy isoflavone exposure and breast cell proliferation and apoptosis (cell death), including: Hargreaves et al., 1999; Sartippour et al., 2004; Palomares et al., 2004; Cheng et al., 2007; Khan et al., 2012; and Shike et al., 2014. These studies combined with epidemiological data continue to show that women with breast cancer, and those at risk for breast cancer, can safely consume soyfoods.”
Specifically, she said isoflavone exposure does not adversely affect breast tissue and markers of breast cancer risk in both healthy women and in women with breast cancer. “And actually, prospective epidemiological data is showing that breast cancer survivors’ soyfood intake actually reduces breast cancer mortality and recurrence. This data continues to be consistent with the recommendations by both the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society: that women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer can safely consume soyfoods.”
TR Nutritionals, Alpharetta, GA, offers many of the products that women need to support their overall health. Deanne Dolnick, science director with the company, stated, “If women take only one supplement to support their health, it should be a multivitamin/mineral product. TR Nutritionals is the largest supplier of pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the metabolically active form of pyridoxine (B6). Decreased P5P plasma concentrations have been found in individuals with CHD, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. These are four issues on the forefront of women’s health concerns.”
Urinary Tract &Yeast Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the cause of nearly 10 million doctor visits annually, according to the National Kidney Foundation, with one in five women experiencing at least one UTI in her lifetime.
“Studies have shown that around 11% of women over the age of 18 have a urinary tract infection (UTI) each year, and 35-53% of those women then suffer from recurrent UTIs within the next 12 months,” explained Eric Zhang, PhD, R&D director for KEB Nutraceutical USA Inc., Ontario, CA. “Recurrent UTIs carry a significant burden for patients and result in high costs to the health system. It is common practice to treat UTIs by fighting the bacteria (E. coli) with various antibiotics, or increasing the dose and duration of therapy.”
As a result of overuse of antibiotics, E.coli bacteria have become more resistant to these broad-spectrum antibiotics, Dr. Zhang noted, which is why preventive nutraceuticals are a safe and effective way to manage UTIs.
KEB Nutraceuticals offers D-Mannose (trademarked and sold as UClear)—a simple sugar derived from glucose that is used in dietary supplements and functional foods to support urinary tract health.
Dr. Zhang said D-Mannose has been shown to be significantly more effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrent infections than antibiotics. “One study has shown that with antibiotic treatment, the mean time to UTI recurrence is 52.7 days. But with oral D-Mannose treatment, the mean time to UTA recurrence is 200 days. Additionally, many other studies have proven D-Mannose to be a safe treatment for recurrent UTIs in adult women (World Journal of Urology, 2014. Journal of Clinical Urology, 2014).”
Cran-Max from Proprietary Nutritionals Inc., Kearny, NJ, is a cranberry ingredient that has been shown to provide anti-adhesion benefits against certain pathogenic bacteria, notably E. coli. Company president Dean Mosca noted, “A landmark study (Beerepoot, M., et al. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011) pitting Cran-Max against trimethoprim, the number-one prescribed antibiotic for UTIs showed that the supplement was almost as successful as the drug in shortening UTI, and without any side effects. Unlike antibiotics, which kill bacteria, cranberry works by changing the bacterial structure and preventing adhesion to tissues so it works effectively for prevention without the risk of developing antibiotic resistance.”
New science has also linked Klebsiella pneumoniae—a pathogenic bacteria from chicken—to UTI. A 2016 study published in Clincial Infections and Diseases found, “Unlike other foodborne pathogens that exert almost immediate symptoms, K. pneumoniae does not, making it more insidious,” explained Mr. Mosca. “In Cran-Max’s research portfolio, there are two distinct studies showing that this ingredient can attack K. pneumoniae and significantly thwart its ability to adhere and colonize (Hess, MJ, et al. Spinal Cord, 2008; Beerepoot, M., et al. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011).”
France-based Naturex is also a supplier of cranberry ingredients for women’s urinary tract health. “We invest heavily in product-specific research in order to make it simple for our customers to select the right ingredient for their formulations,” said Dan Souza, director of sales. “For instance, a recently published human clinical trial on our full spectrum cranberry powder Pacran showed that daily consumption of just 500 mg reduces recurrent UTI in women with a history of UTI (Phytotherapy Research, 2015).”
Another common infection in women is genital/vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), also known as a yeast infection, which affects an estimated 75% of all women at least once in their lifetime.
According to Mitch Skop, senior director product development, Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Kearny, NJ, VVC is “the second most common cause of vaginitis after bacterial vaginosis, and it is diagnosed in up to 40% of women with vaginal complaints in the primary care setting.”
Pharmachem’s probiotic portfolio includes two specific strains that have been shown in a human clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 2012 to support healthy vaginal environments, notably against candida.
“In a pilot study of 30 women who were diagnosed with VVC, our probiotics—L. fermentum LF10 (DSM 19187) and Lactobacillus acidophilus LA02 (DSM 21717)— were administered by means of slow release effervescent vaginal tablets (ActiCand 30 product). The main endpoint was the assessment of the establishment and maintenance of a barrier effect against candida yeasts in women suffering from VVC.” Mr. Skop said volunteers were directed to apply a vaginal tablet once a day for seven consecutive nights, followed by one tablet every three nights for a further three-week application (acute phase) and, finally, one tablet per week to maintain a long-term vaginal colonization against possible recurrences.
“At the conclusion, researchers found that the combination of probiotics was able to significantly solve candida yeast symptoms after 28 days in 26 patients out of 30 (corresponding to 86.6%),” he said. ActiCand 30 was also found to have long-term preventive effects, thanks to the colonization of vaginal microbiota and adhesion of the mucosa to the epithelial cells.
While women are the primary purchasers of supplements, they are a discerning audience, with high demands for convenience, efficacy and safety.
Dr. Abedon with NutraGenesis said products containing quality, efficacious ingredients that have been clinically tested are always important to women. “Women often look for ease of use and convenience too,” he added. “This includes, for example, smaller capsules or tablets that are easier to swallow, or being able to take one product that provides a range of health benefits, rather than having to take multiple products that only address single conditions for each one.”
Naturex’s Mr. Souza believes attracting a loyal female following “begins and ends with efficacy.” When it comes to shopping for UTI support, he said, “consumers don’t go to the store to buy cranberry capsules, cranberry softgels, organic cranberry or non-GMO cranberry. They go to buy a healthy urinary tract.” While features such as organic and non-GMO are important to some consumers, Mr. Souza said having a clean label is basically irrelevant if the product doesn’t provide results.
That said, some new delivery formats are standing out in the cranberry supplement category, he added. “Our partners have had a lot of success launching cranberry urinary tract health supplements in gummy and in liquid/syrup formats.
Buying an herbal or botanical supplement using standardized ingredients is of the utmost importance when choosing a new supplement, according to Mr. Raz of Lycored. When evaluating products that contain an herb or botanical sourced ingredient, such as lycopene, lutein, cranberries, etc., selecting a product with standardized ingredients ensures that the dosage of the active ingredient in each capsule or bottle is consistent.
“Another important factor is the source of the active ingredient,” said Mr. Raz. Using beta-carotene as an example, he explained that U.S. regulations allow dietary supplements manufacturers to use synthetic beta-carotene without disclosing it on the label. “So while we might think we are eating extracted carrots or healthy fungus, we are actually consuming a synthetic chemical,” he cautioned.
“The only way to know whether what we take is natural or synthetic is by asking a specific question about a specific ingredient.
Personally, for me and my family, I prefer supplements that are sourced from Mother Earth and that are as close as possible to the natural source.”
Within the omega-3 category, Tiffany Huenefeldt, corporate development manager of KD Pharma, said conflicting messages in the crowded supplement market make it almost impossible to decipher what is really important for selecting a product. “Consumers tend to be confused by the lack of consistent information regarding daily intake levels and product sources, especially in North America.
However, there is a certain demographic of women that is certainly willing to spend more on products that can show they are sustainable and pure.” Purity is especially important within the prenatal supplement market, she said, as women want the best for their growing child.
To meet the demands of pregnant women, KD Pharma specializes in high concentrate omega-3 oils, which allow for smaller gel cap sizes that are easier to swallow. Consumers appreciate taking fewer pills, said Ms. Huenefeldt, but especially pregnant and nursing mothers. “No woman wants to swallow the often prescribed prenatal ‘horse pills.’ The growing practice of including omega-3 DHA in prenatal vitamins or vitamin packs is a particularly noteworthy trend in the omega-3 industry. In fact, the number-one-selling prenatal supplement contains DHA and I think you will continue to see more high DHA products backed by solid research of its benefits.” KD Pharma also offers algal DHA, which is available in concentrations as high as 75%, she added.
Emerging Health Concerns
As more women become in tune with their nutritional needs, industry experts predicted new health concerns would emerge. For example, Mr. Raz said ingestible skin care is a trend to watch thanks to growing awareness of holistic approaches toward health and understanding that “wellness isn’t the result of one single miracle cure, activity or effort. It is the result of combined synergistic efforts that include spirit, mind and body related awareness.”
More women are realizing how important nutrition is for inner health, but also outward appearance, he added. “The statement ‘I am what I eat’ seems to make sense to a growing number of women and the spotlight on ingestible skin care is gaining power. As a result of this growing demand, we have intensively increased our research efforts and we are very encouraged by the results we see. Actually, we have recently concluded the first stage in our largest ever clinical program on our ‘Lycored Nutrient Complex (LNC) for Skin’ and UV protection. Encouraged from these solid results we keep investing in both technology development and efficacy assurance.”
Like other consumer groups, the incidence of respiratory challenges in women is on the rise, Dr. Abedon or NutraGenesis reported. Women, he said, are looking for a natural treatment for respiratory wellness that is clinically tested, for their families and themselves. “AllerGuard Express is a proprietary nutraceutical ingredient derived from quail egg that was found to help enhance respiratory wellness in as little as 15 minutes after exposure to multiple respiratory challenges in a recent, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial. This fast-acting efficacy is due to an advanced, tryptase-inhibition mechanism of action that is unique in the natural products industry and among OTC products as well.”
Mr. Bornet of Pycnogenol considers cognitive function to be an emerging health category for women, which the company expects will continue to grow. “Memory and cognition play an important role for all of us—at all ages—and in our quality of life. Cognitive function is one of our rapidly developing areas of research, and the benefits of Pycnogenol have been shown to improve overall memory and attention span throughout life by fighting free radicals and maintaining healthy circulation. Recent research (Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences, 2015) showed Pycnogenol to be effective in helping improve attention span, decision making and memory in those ages 55+.” The extract also has been shown to provide natural support for mood health, mental performance, sustained attention and memory, while reducing oxidative stress.
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this article referred to KEB Nutraceutical’s D-Mannose as “UT-Pro,” rather than “UClear.” The article has since been updated to correct this error.)