10 Top Healthy Aging Priorities

Healthy aging is a holistic undertaking. Here’s the areas your customers may want to address—and may want to address proactively.

Even before the pandemic, this was a category on the rise. As Lindsey Toth, Associate Director of Marketing at Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients, reports: “Around the world, we’re seeing life expectancy increase, which is contributing to demand for solutions that aid in healthy aging. As consumers age, we see them focusing on health maintenance, exploring solutions to help them unwind any of the potentially negative health choices they made in their younger years. For instance, 50% of adults 55 and older are motivated to eat more healthfully in order to prevent disease or illness. The health areas of concern related to aging we see most often are cognitive health, diabetes, weight management, and mobility. And the primary cause for reduction in mobility is arthritis that affects almost half of those 65 and older in the U.S. For the supplement industry, the key to successfully meeting consumers with meaningful messaging is personalization—not everyone’s aging story and concerns are the same.”

Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, Sr. Director of R&D/National Educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition, agrees—and doubles down: “As the average life expectancy for men and women continues to rise, reaching that ‘midlife’ stage is not as alarming as it used to be. In this day and age, life does not end at 40 or 50. In fact, for parents, it is just starting to ramp up again as kids go off to college. Remember, age is just a number—it is about how you feel and your ability to experience life to its fullest. And with age comes wisdom and wherewithal, which can open new worlds like traveling, starting a side business, working towards more fulfilling relationships, and maintaining physical activity and mental acuity. Although we cannot be forever young, people want to maintain a youthful existence and improve the quality of those years as they continue to mature. That said, while aging can take a toll on your joints and bones, what most men and women want is to feel as good and energized as they did in their 20s and 30s.”

While aging has always been an issue on the radar, and healthy aging has been gaining in importance, the issues that aging people face were laid bare in the past year. “The pandemic and volatile political climate have revealed several vulnerabilities to aging people,” says Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA, Sr. Nutrition Education Manager at NOW. “These include limits to their medical coverage; their increased susceptibility to this particular virus; the challenges of living alone, whether in or out of quarantine; the roles of activity and inactivity on bone and cardiovascular health; and even challenges to mental health due to more sources of stress. Recent extreme weather events have added to these stressors. Immunity was perhaps the most compelling concern; with potential loss of life, health, and independent living for seniors, especially.”

Tim Hammond, VP Marketing and Sales, Bergstrom Nutrition, splits these into two major groups: “The concept of healthy or active aging often involves two categories. The first is about aesthetics and cosmetics, as people try to maintain their vibrant, youthful look. The second category consists of the ability to function normally, even with the significant decline in muscle, joint, and ligament function that aging brings. Consumers are interested in products and ingredients that enable them to remain active and support their functional ability to do what they value as they age. The ability to remain mobile allows for the performance of the essential tasks of daily living. Pain-free movement is vital for people wishing to stay active and independent. The broad utility of OptiMSM addresses both and contributes to a person’s overall wellness and helping them ‘look good’ and ‘feel good.’”

As for how consumers are reacting to all of this, Andrea Bonina, Managing Director, Bionap S.r.l., tells WholeFoods: “Consumers definitely are taking a more active role in their health choices. The pandemic forced individuals to maintain good health and consumers sought out natural and plant-based solutions as a result. We believe this will continue.”

However, the ways in which consumers are taking control isn’t just by doing more of what they were already doing. Nancy Dayton, CEO of ProHealth Longevity, explains: “Consumer shopping patterns have increased online with use of Amazon and specialized e-commerce sites, with a slight decline in brick-and-mortar retail. ProHealth Longevity customers are purchasing larger serving size products of popular products, like our Uthever NMN line in the 100 grams size. And we have seen an increase in immune health products, such as our liposomal vitamins C & D, trans-resveratrol, and super immune boost.” Dayton adds that the Uthever line helps support energy levels, better sleep, skin and hair, and improved cognitive function.

There are several areas wherein consumers may decide to focus their energy, but there’s also a baseline from which all customers should start, according to Steve Rye, CEO, Dr. Mercola: “Healthy aging starts with metabolic health. Most people look for supplements to do the heavy lifting, but if they have not optimized their metabolism, supplements will do little for them. Instead, they should start with an appropriate diet, a fitness routine that includes weight training and a healthy sleep schedule that achieves nearly eight hours of sleep daily—all while managing stress levels to prevent undermining of these goals.”

The Importance of Supplementation

“There is no more important way to assure the availability of essential nutrients than to recommend taking a multivitamin,” stresses NOW’s Neil Levin. “For older people especially, who may not eat regular balanced meals or who subsist on institutional foods, government surveys repeatedly show deficits in consumption of nutritional requirements that could be alleviated by supplementation. These include protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamins D and B-12. Special diets only add to the potential problem as vegans may lack certain nutrients (such as iron, iodine, zinc, protein, omega-3 fats, vitamin B-12, copper) while those on gluten-free, low-carb, or paleo diets may lack others (such as fiber, folate and vitamin B-2, vitamin D, calcium, antioxidants including vitamin E complex, phytosterols and other phytonutrients including carotenoids). While supplementation is secondary to dietary sources, it cannot be ignored as a proven way to correct imbalanced diets resulting in likely nutrient deficiencies.”

Consumers know this, according to Jay Levy, Wakunaga, and older consumers in particular are aware: “The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was released in February 2021, notes that dietary supplement use increases with age. Specifically, 67.3% of men and 80.2% of women age 60 and older routinely purchase and use supplements to support healthy aging. These include supplements that target blood sugar, bone, brain, cardiovascular, and immune health.”

In terms of which supplements are making a splash, Levin says: “Besides multivitamins, fiber, and omega-3 the last year has brought great visibility to other supplements. Quercetin, NAC, vitamin D, and silymarin milk thistle extract have all been selling especially well recently. Vitamin C and zinc remain top-selling nutrients. Botanicals used for immune support are still in high demand; these include elderberry, echinacea, and andrographis. And vitamin K-2, especially its extremely bioavailable isomer form MK-7, has seen steadily growing demand for not only bone health, but also for cardiovascular health and even immune support.”

Joy Hendler, Aker, also points to krill oil as useful here: “Krill oil is traditionally well-known for its heart health properties but research in recent years suggests that krill oil has far reaching benefits beyond heart health. Since krill oil is a natural phospholipid complex of omega-3 and choline, it acts more as a multi-nutrient supplement. In fact, krill oil’s phospholipid bound omega-3s and choline are important for brain, joint and liver health, and even have beneficial effects on skin hydration and muscle activation in sports performance.”

Another vital nutrient, although it may not be getting the recognition it deserves: choline. Balchem’s Shitij Chabba pointed to the scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Three food pattern styles were outlined in the report, and while all three generally meet nutrient needs across the lifespan, there were a few notable exemptions people are not getting adequate amounts of, including choline,” Chabba says. “It found low intake levels among infants and toddlers, as well as vulnerable populations like pregnant and lactating women, especially concerning. The Institute of Medicine established a Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 450mg for pregnant women and 550mg for adults in general in 1998, yet the DGAC determined that current choline intake levels are too low for most Americans. Notably, the Committee stated that many supplements do not yet contain sufficient amounts of choline. This is an important opportunity for dietary supplement and food fortification formulators, and for retailers given that choline supports a variety of processes at all stages of life and throughout the body, including fetal and infant development, cognition and memory, energy and fitness, metabolism, and liver health.”

Once those basics are addressed, natural products can lend a helping hand with top concerns. Among them:

Bladder Control

When looking at healthy aging issues, Tracey Seipel, N.D., CEO of Seipel Group, says that bladder control should absolutely be a priority: “With healthy aging, quality of life and freedom are the key area that warrants focus. Incontinence and bladder control issues are the third highest condition to most negatively impact quality of life.” Seipel says that poor bladder control encompasses:

  • Urinary incontinence, otherwise known as bladder accidents;
  • Urinary urgency, “a ‘bossy’ bladder or rushing to reach the bathroom in time”;
  • Chronic cystitis, “which research is showing is often not due to an infection but due to bladder oversensitivity from repeated trauma with infections”;
  • Nocturia, “which half of the time is due to an overactive bladder and is NOT due to benign prostate enlargement in men.”

Not only is it common, but it is an underserved problem, Seipel notes: “Poor bladder control affects as many people as arthritis and yet is a hidden problem with sufferers too isolated and embarrassed to openly discuss their problems or to seek assistance. This has dire consequences with urinary incontinence and poor bladder control as one of the leading health concerns that negatively impact quality of life in the aged. Research shows half of people with poor bladder control do not discuss their bladder problems with their doctor or even their partners. It is no wonder people with poor bladder control stop exercising and socializing, for fear of accidents; have poor sleep, due to waking throughout the night for the toilet; reach their twilight years and yet can’t travel for more than 1 hour without having to use the restroom, so can’t travel beyond their local mall, let alone travel the world, as they can’t wait for landing before using the toilet on a plane;  become reclusive and isolated in an effort to manage their bladder control and stop visiting or staying overnight with family or friends; and are more likely to end up in elderly nursing care—urinary incontinence is one of the top reasons for admittance to nursing care after dementia and mobility issues.”

The Seipel Group’s ingredient Urox has been tested in more than 12 clinical trials in both men and women, and has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of occasional urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, overactive bladder, bladder oversensitivity, and nocturia, Seipel shares. 90% of Urox users experienced symptom improvement and corresponding increase in quality of life, while 75% reduced diaper usage.

Another option in bladder health: RidgeCrest Herbals’ GladderBladder, which combines hibiscus and PACran to help maintain a healthy urinary tract environment and support bladder health, according to the company’s website.

Blood Sugar

Diabetes is “a worldwide health crisis,” according to John Burd, Ph.D., CEO and Founder of Lysulin. “Most people do not appreciate that as we age, we are poisoning ourselves with carbohydrates and glucose and high fructose corn syrup. This leads to obesity, diabetes and its complications, and a myriad of health complications as we age.”

Also noting the importance of keeping blood sugar in check, Anke Sentko, BENEO’s VP Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication, says: “Lower blood sugar supports metabolic health in various ways, and helps with blood sugar management and weight management at the same time.”

Most important, here, is diet. “Food is the best medicine,” Dr. Burd says, recommending a ketogenic diet and whole foods, since food processing “removes many important ingredients.”

“Choose food that keeps your blood sugar low or that helps to lower blood sugar,” Sentko agrees. “Ingredients that work here are sugar replacers like Isomalt, or the slowly available sugar isomaltulose, branded by Beneo as Palatinose. Isomalt allows for sugar reduction without volume or texture reduction, and allows for sugar-free candies or sugar reduced chocolate; Palatinose allows for a balanced and low-glycemic energy delivery, supporting metabolic health and the brain.”

Dr. Burd has created and now sells Lysulin, which has been shown in clinical studies to target glucose toxicity, which Dr. Burd points to as the cause of high blood sugar.

Immune Health

Much has been said on the topic of immune health (find this year’s immune health series on our website starting here, as well as all the latest research), but it’s worth it, here, to point to immunosenescence. “Aging is accompanied by remodeling of the immune system,” explained researchers in a 2019 paper published in Frontiers in Immunology (2)“With time, this leads to a decline in immune efficacy, resulting in increased vulnerability to infectious diseases, diminished responses to vaccination, and a susceptibility to age-related inflammatory diseases.” The researchers noted that this is characterized by an increase in the frequency of memory cells, a decrease in the number of certain circulating immune cells, and “inflamm-aging,” but that it is influenced by both nutritional and pharmacological interventions—and this industry is well-suited to facilitate nutritional interventions, when customers are advised by a healthcare practitioner.

One step customers can take, according to Dr. Mercola’s Steve Rye: “Healthy immune function is often linked to optimal vitamin D levels, yet this widespread deficiency continues to be overlooked by large segments of the population and even many physicians.  Dr. Mercola published a peer-reviewed study on vitamin D and its importance during recent events (3). Interestingly, there are over 34,000 scientific investigations to date on how vitamin D works in your body—particularly on the cells within the immune system. We also encourage our customers to get regular blood testing to ensure 60ng/ml and optimal health.”

Cardiovascular Health

Heart health is a major issue as people age. Jay Levy, Sales Director, Wakunaga, tells WholeFoods that it’s one of the most-asked about topics among aging consumers: “According to the National Institutes on Aging, people aged 65 and older are much more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease and heart failure. This is largely because aging can cause changes to the heart and blood vessels. The most common change is increased stiffness and the buildup of plaque in the large arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This can then cause high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. In addition, cholesterol levels tend to rise as we age, which contributes to plaque accumulation in the arteries.”

People are acting on this information, says Andrea Zangara, Head of Scientific Communications & Marketing, Euromed. “Consumers are increasingly realizing the importance of heart wellbeing to reduce the risk of mortality and viral morbidity, and are therefore taking a preventive approach to heart care,” Zangara says. “This is reflected in a recent spike in demand for cardiovascular health ingredients.”

Diet can make a difference here, of course. Zangara points to the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to support cardiovascular health, noting: “Research confirms that this type of eating pattern, in the context of an appropriate lifestyle, contributes to the reduction of risk factors and the prevention of cardiovascular as well as metabolic diseases in particular.” The diet has also formed the basis of Euromed’s product lineup: “For instance, our natural olive extract Mediteanox provides a significant healthy aging effect,” Zangara explains. “It delivers precise amounts of the European Food Safety Authority-recommended heart-friendly hydroxytyrosol—a powerful natural antioxidant polyphenol that plays a key role in the documented health-enhancing properties of the Mediterranean diet.”

Another useful supplement: Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). Levy explains: “A number of clinical trials have found that supplementing with Kyolic AGE, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle, can support cardiovascular health on a number of fronts, including its ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent the progression of coronary artery calcification, and help reduce the accumulation of soft plaque within arteries. At Wakunaga, we routinely share this clinical information via a range of consumer-friendly educational platforms including articles, blogs, booklets, and in-store events.”

Cognitive Health

“We’ve experienced significant interest in ‘cognitive wellness’ where consumers are seeking products supporting brain function and improving mood,” says Bonina. “The pandemic pushed individuals to reflect on holistic health, and cognitive health is an area where more people seek to focus. Bionap’s ingredient Cognigrape is a natural antioxidant with clinical support in this area. The first human clinical with Cognigrape improved cognitive function related to attention, language, immediate and delayed memory, while at the same time, it was able to help the mood status in healthy older individuals. A second study confirming these benefits is underway.”

The pandemic may have exacerbated emotional and mental health issues, adds Joy Hendler, Marketing Associate, Aker BioMarine Antarctic U.S. “In the past year, we have seen more and more brands focused on the emotional/mental wellbeing side of health due to the uncertainty and stress generated by the pandemic,” she says. “This has caused consumers to look more into mood-management products. Consumers concerned about the long-term consequences of COVID-19, such as brain fog, can potentially benefit from DHA centric products.”

Digestive Health

The Health Focus 2020 International Trend Study found that digestive health played an “extremely/very important role for overall physical health” for 78% of respondents, Sentko shares. Besides a healthy diet and exercise, Sentko suggests “supporting the gut microbiome by nourishing the good, beneficial microorganisms with their preferred dish, i.e., the prebiotics inulin or oligofructose. Inulin can also help in fat reduction, when it comes to food formulation—due to the long-chain fructans, the mouth feeling is creamy, which is perfect for good texture in many applications. Inulin also provides fiber enrichment and microbiome support.”

Rye also spotlights this market as a growing one. “The enzyme market looks to be increasing, as better digestion has significant value, and this is one supplement people tend to feel working for them. Probiotics are also a good starting point for people new to a vitamin regimen, as overall optimal health starts with a healthy gut.”

Energy

“There is a greater focus on cellular energy and repair than ever before, as consumers learn the importance of maintaining healthy cellular energy production for a healthier, longer life,” says Marianne McDonagh, VP of Sales, Bioenergy Life Science (BLS). “In the past year, ATP has gained greater importance in the healthy aging category. This is something BLS predicted would happen because we’ve been immersed in this science for 30+ years. ATP production would come to a standstill without ribose, which exists naturally within cells. Our customers have successfully used Bioenergy Ribose for decades to ensure there is enough ATP produced by mitochondria to maximize the effects of other ingredients.”

A press release from BLS further notes that while mitochondria keep our cells functioning and produce ATP, mitochondrial DNA is easily damaged by stress, pollution, and poor diet, on top of the fact that mitochondria don’t divide as frequently as years pass, causing a slower metabolism, less energy and vitality, and associations with age-related chronic illnesses. But, McDonagh shares, “the mechanisms for cellular energy, and healthy aging from the inside out, aren’t easy for the average person to understand. So, it’s especially important for consumers to feel the benefits if they are to remain brand loyal, and consumers are paying closer attention to results. They want confidence that heavily promoted products are working. That’s why BLS recommends that our customers trust the science, and use our patented, proven ingredients in their healthy aging formulations.” BLS offers D-Ribose and the nutritional solution RiaGev, which McDonagh says simultaneously increases NAD, ATP, and GSH, balancing stress associated with energy production.

Another option here: ginseng. Korean Ginseng Corp offers a Koreselect line of products, one of which is aimed at providing sustained energy throughout the day while helping to recover from fatigue, according to www.kgcus.com.

Eye Health

While blue light is the main focus when it comes to eye health, general maintenance of the eyes is just as important. NOW offers Macular Vision, a new product that Levin says consists of “lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin in ratios that have been clinically tested and found to promote optimal eye health, visual performance, and cognitive function.” He adds: “Carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin, are concentrated in the macula, an area of the eye responsible for focus and color differentiation that tends to degrade with age and light exposure. In the macula, these pigments act as a filter for blue light. Meso-zeaxanthin is concentrated in the central region of the macula responsible for detailed central vision. Unlike lutein and zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin is not obtained directly through the diet or available in most eye support products. To enhance bioavailability, XanthoSight, a registered trademark of Stauber Performance Ingredients, Inc., has been formulated in a softgel capsule with a fish oil base to also supply DHA.”

Proactive Customers

Traditionally, says Stratum’s Jacqueline Rizo, “Up until middle-age, most of us don’t think about preventative steps we could be taking to ensure healthy aging. We may be able to eat what we want and do what we want with seemingly few, if any, repercussions. However, this is the very time that we can begin taking measures to help keep us healthy and active throughout life.”

These days, people of all ages are coming around to this view. “There is no question that healthy aging covers many aspects, and during the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on healthy living,” says Aker’s Joy Hendler. “We are seeing that prevention, proactiveness and protection are key.”

Tim Hammond, with Bergstrom, seconds that. “The pandemic put an abrupt pause to many of our lives, causing consumers to reassess their values and priorities. Many realized how unfortunately short our lives can be and don’t want to waste a single moment not feeling their best. And younger populations are thinking ahead, putting proactive measures into place now so that they may realize them as they age. Overall, general health and wellbeing is becoming synonymous with aging.”

Indena’s de Rensis, too, feels that COVID gave people a reality check. “One of the dominant trends we’ve experienced as a result of the pandemic is that consumers are more sensitive and aware of human fragility being more resilient and proactive in managing their health. As a result, natural health products and botanicals have become even more a part of the way to live a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Rizo’s opinion: “Consumers on both sides of the age spectrum ought to seek out bone and joint health supplements. There are two major factors causing an increase in joint and bone health problems—an aging population and sedentary lifestyles. As society ages because of rising levels of life expectancy, more people are at risk of experiencing issues with their bones and joints. Another key group of consumers prone to suffer are those between the ages of 24-35 years old, mostly due to spending a majority of their time sitting in front of technological devices, leading to joint and health problems. Turning to nutritional supplements as a means of complementing a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise, especially supplements catered to joint support, is crucial to maintain optimal health.”

Mobility

While mobility is largely focused on joints, it’s actually a much broader category than that. Stratum Nutrition’s Content Coordinator Jacqueline Rizo explains: “The skeletal system, composed of bones and joints, is a complex scaffold that supports the soft tissues of the body and enables movement. Just like other systems in the body, a weakness in one part can have ramifications throughout the entire system. It is normal to concentrate on one area of weakness in the body without considering how that weakness impacts other areas. But the optimal approach is usually to find ways to support the whole system. Supplements that provide nutrients that support bones, joints and even the surrounding tendons and ligaments, can help the body compensate for some weaknesses in one part of the system. For both the young athlete and the aging Boomer, the ability to move about freely is vital to overall health. This ability to move can go a long way toward supporting the health of the rest of the body, both physically and mentally.”

That ability to move may have gone down, over the past year and a half. “The lockdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic were particularly hard on older consumers, especially their joints,” says Tim Osborne, Director of Business Development, NXT USA. “Post COVID-19, many of these consumers are interested in getting back to regular exercise after spending months with restrictions on gyms, parks and recreation centers. However, this transition will be challenging for those who are going from being mostly sedentary to active again. Issues like joint pain will be a major obstacle, especially for those who packed on the pounds during quarantine.”

Osborne suggests addressing these issues proactively, to avoid further routine disruption. “To that end, solutions that are safe, effective, and offer fast relief of aches and pains will be the winners,” he says. “Natural supplements can help support the body to enable consumers to reach their activity goals and to do so without sacrificing comfort, especially as we age. Tamaflex, the flagship product of NXT USA, has been proven to show results within five days. Made with sustainably sourced tamarind and turmeric, it is safe and effective for improving joint health, stiffness, and mobility.” Plus, younger customers are looking to preemptively address joint issues, too—they don’t want to deal with increased joint pain later in life, Osborne says.

Mobility is also where Lonza is focusing right now. “With mobility top of mind, we’re seeing continued interest in steadfast joint friends like turmeric, as well as new joint health stars like boswellia and collagen, which are experiencing significant growth,” says Toth. “With one in six people in the world projected to be 65 years or older by 2050, Lonza is hyper-focused on supporting the concerns of this growing population through science-backed innovation and research in mobility and joint health.”

One major way of helping: collagen. “While collagen has taken center stage in recent years, there is largely little known by consumers about the different types of collagen, and the difference in benefits they confer,” Toth explains. “For instance, Lonza has invested significant research in understanding the benefits of undenatured type II collagen, a unique form of collagen. Today, through what is an extensive library of clinical studies, Lonza shows that undenatured type II collagen, specifically their UC-II collagen, is clinically proven to reduce joint discomfort and increase mobility. And unlike other commonly known joint health ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin or hydrolyzed collagen, UC-II collagen can be taken in a tiny, once-daily, easy-to-swallow dose. With pill fatigue and swallowability concerns being a huge barrier for most aging consumers, this unique ingredient innovation offers unsurpassed consumer convenience in a tiny, science-backed package—a huge win in delivering healthy aging benefits.”

To Larry Kolb, President, TSI Group Ltd., it’s vital to consider mobility beyond joints: “Our focus is on educating the consumers and trade industry about the musculoskeletal story and how bone, joint and muscle health are all connected. After the age of 35, we all lose between 1.5% and 2% of our muscle mass every year, so over time, if you don’t manage your muscle health earlier in life, you will lose a significant amount of muscle by the time you are 80. Most consumers will look for supplements that will help them with joint pain, however the main reason for this discomfort and loss of mobility may be from losses in muscle mass and tone that doesn’t provide enough stability for joints.” TSI Group offers B-hydroxy B-methylbutyrate (HMB), which Kolb says has been shown to increase protein synthesis while reducing protein breakdown in muscle. He points to a year-long randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that found that TSI Group’s branded myHMB in combination with vitamin D improved muscle function even in absence of exercise.

Looking at the skeletal end of things, Shitij Chabba, VP Minerals & Nutrients and Global Marketing, Balchem Human Nutrition & Health, points to calcium, noting some new forms customers may want to be aware of. “Adequate amounts of calcium are essential to promote and protect bone mass and architecture as well as overall health. Low bone mineral density is a risk factor for osteoporotic bone fractures. Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and helps to reduce the loss of bone mineral in post-menopausal women. Calcium citrate malate (CCM) is a compound salt of calcium cation with citrate and malateanions. CCM has demonstrated efficacy, has better absorption when compared to other forms of calcium (calcium carbonate, etc.), and is less reactive towards other food components that interact with calcium (i.e. phytates) and can be consumed with or without foods.”

Chad Walding, DPT, Co-Founder of NativePath, shares that for his customers, bone health is a major concern under the mobility umbrella. “Our customers are part of an older demographic, in their 50s and 60s, and we find that they are most concerned about healthy aging as it relates to bone health. This is an ongoing health issue that impacts older demographics, and women in particular, since they lose bone density as they age.”

Dr. Walding suggests collagen as a viable route here: “Primarily, we are telling our consumers to incorporate a daily supplement to maintain bone health. One such supplement is collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the body, and directly targets damaged areas. We find that educating consumers on how to properly supplement is key. For maximal benefits, we educate the pros of consuming a supplement like collagen, instead of using in topical form. We’re also finding our consumers are looking for different ways to get in their daily values of supplements. For instance, with collagen, you can take larger amounts, like 20-40 grams each day, and consumers want to vary how they consume their collagen. NativePath is trying to come up with ways to spread out the benefits and combine other benefits, like a product that promotes healthy aging but also helps with sleep or the immune system. We also experiment with new flavors that can mix with water, coffee, tea, etc.”

Retailers who work or partner with any kind of physical activity instructor, be it yoga or otherwise, may want to talk to customers concerned about bone health about those opportunities, as well, in order to take advantage of another piece of Dr. Walding’s advice: “NativePath is also big about promoting healthy lifestyle routines. Another way we advise consumers to keep their bones healthy with aging is by offering videos and workout routines that focus on weight-bearing exercises and posture correction. Using my background as a physical therapist, I teach our consumers how to incorporate functional movement into their daily lives to maintain balance and mobility. At the same time, its never too early to start thinking about how you live your lifestyle.”

 

Nutri-Beauty

“The biggest change we have seen in healthy aging is the explosion of brands that are adding nutricosmetics to their product line,” says Douglas Jones, Global Sales & Marketing Manager, BioCell Technology, LLC.

Sugarek MacDonald dove into that: “Consumers want to defy the changes that come with maturing, particularly fine lines and wrinkles, while also supporting the health and integrity of their bodies. Thus, it is no surprise that consumers are linking inner health and outer beauty and wellness. In fact, ~38% of U.S. consumers over the age of 35 are motivated to adopting a new diet to improve their physical appearance. This change in consumer attitudes has laid the groundwork for functional food products that benefit the skin, defying the aging process from the inside out and beyond, including mood, energy/vitality, detoxing, and personal care. As a result, the category of nutricosmetics—ingestible products taken specifically for beauty purposes, or ‘beauty foods’—particularly structure/function collagen formulated products—has taken off in recent years.” She shared some numbers:

  • The global nutricosmetics market (mostly collagen) was valued at $4.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2025, nearly doubling in size.
  • Compared to the Asia Pacific and Europe, the U.S. market is under-developed in nutricosmetics and therefore displays the greatest growth potential globally.
  • The estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nutricosmetics in the U.S. through 2024 is 9-10%.

Both Jones and Sugarek MacDonald are seeing the impact of this in their respective companies. “Consumers are seeking cosmeceutical products to use at home,” Jones says. “We have seen an acceleration of the ‘beauty from within’ products that use BioCell Collagen as a primary ingredient in the last 16 months. With consumers working from home and on camera multiple times per day with Zoom, they’re looking for products that can minimize facial fine lines and wrinkles as well as improving overall skin appearance.”

Sugarek MacDonald notes that collagen is highly multifunctional. “Collagen is a key structural component for skin, hair, and nails. It also helps to promote skin elasticity while counteracting the visible signs of aging. Having healthy skin is important since it is the largest organ of the human body and functions as a physical barrier to protect the body from environmental factors like pathogens, chemicals, and sunlight throughout our lifetime. The skin also has other physiological roles, including immune defense, increasing free-radical detoxifying enzymes, antioxidant support, thermoregulation, prevention of excessive water loss, and endocrine—production of vitamin D—support to sustain optimal health.” Bluebonnet is now offering Collagen Refreshers, which Sugarek MacDonald calls “a line of deliciously refreshing and remarkably effective easy-to-mix collagen formulas with organic-certified ingredients that work with your body’s natural chemistry.” The line is available in Vitality, Zen, Beauty, and Detox, as well as a regular Collagen product.

Pycnogenol is emerging as a player in this category, adds Sébastien Bornet, VP Global Sales & Marketing at Horphag Research, citing a 2021 study. Bornet explains that the study “found that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract may help to significantly retain skin hydration, increase skin elasticity, and reinforce skin barrier function for those exposed to urban environmental pollution, as well as seasonal temperature and humidity variations. In addition, the study found Pycnogenol to increase skin lightening during seasonal changes when dark spots can emerge.”

Oxidative Stress

“In our experience, we find that consumers have a wide variety of health concerns,” says Rajan Shah, President, INID Research Lab. “A common thread, however, tends to revolve around the subjects of chronic disease, inflammation and immunity. Both are inextricably linked and can be traced back to oxidative stress. Consumers have become very aware of the detrimental effects of oxidative stress and wish to minimize it as much as possible. Given that oxidative stress is a common condition not immediately associated with illness, but rather of concern in the longer term, the apprehension of consumers is understandable. After all, we all wish to live a healthy life for as long as possible.”

Indena, too, is focused on oxidative stress and the inflammation it causes. “Research has shown that low-level inflammation can be quietly present in the body and have a profound in our health for conditions related to brain health, eye health, joint health, blood sugar management and others,” says Francesca de Rensis, Marketing Director, Indena. “That’s why Indena has Meriva Curcumin Phytosome that is supported in over 35 clinical studies in a wide range of health conditions where low-level inflammation plays a part. These studies have validated the effectiveness of Meriva, demonstrating that it can be taken for extended periods of time, and making it appropriate for a long-term healthy aging strategy.”

Bornet lists Pycnogenol as a useful antioxidant. “At Horphag Research, the most pressing topics we’ve noted recently in the Healthy Aging category are cognitive function and beauty from within,” he says. “More consumers—especially younger generations—now realize how crucial it is to take a proactive, evidence-based and natural approach to staying healthy longer. These trending ‘body and mind’ topics reflect a holistic approach of being—and staying—in good health for as long as possible. As a powerful antioxidant, Pycnogenol has a deep history and decades of research demonstrating benefits for a number of health conditions directly related to aging well including skin care, heart health, blood circulation, cognitive functions, eye health, and joint health. We are growing in all of these areas, with cognitive health and oral skin care emerging as solid growth drivers.”

Shah focused in on glutathione, which, while known as an important antioxidant, has certain limitations: “To obtain the potential benefits, glutathione levels must increase inside cells, as cellular glutathione, and not just in whole blood or plasma. To experience the benefits glutathione offers, cellular glutathione levels must be raised above homeostasis. This is crucial to understand since only a healthy diet can raise cellular glutathione levels to homeostatic levels. It is only when cellular glutathione levels exceed homeostatic levels that neutralization of any chronic ailment related to oxidative stress is possible.”

INID Research is looking to spread this information. “To educate customers, we provide technical information on our website www.continualg.com via blogs and videos,” Shah says. “We also respond to questions raised by those who want to understand the science of glutathione as it relates to health. Our advice to consumers centers on the fact that healthy glutathione levels need to be maintained as we age but this can prove difficult because not only does our body produce less of it as we get older, but supplements that purport to raise cellular glutathione are generally ineffective.” He maintains that glyteine is a proven nutrient-based way to raise cellular glutathione.

4 Trends to Watch

Several trends in the market, as outlined by Stratum’s Jacqueline Rizo:

  1. Women’s Health: “More and more women are exercising with programs geared towards building muscle and improving overall fitness, which in return, has caused a major growth area in the bone/joint supplement category. Women are looking for more targeted performance enhancing supplements that cater to them specifically. They are seeking personalized products that are convenient, healthy, and that take their special needs into account.”
  2. Anti-aging: “As the population continues to age, the market for anti-aging products will need to grow to meet the needs of individuals who want to stay healthy and active for as long as possible. Since many younger people have grown up with an awareness of supplement products, they are already educated in many of the ways that these products can support health. In addition, as healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, people will want to find ways to help keep these costs down.”
  3. Gummies: “Many people have already hit ‘pill fatigue,’ especially if they take pharmaceutical products in addition to their supplements. As a result, the current trend of more food-like formats such as chews and gummies will continue to be popular.”
  4. Combos: “There may also be a continued trend toward combination products or groups of products sold together to support several aspects of aging. These may be a combination of food type products, liquid supplements or beverages, and traditional pills and capsules.”

3 Characteristics of a Good Product

Sustainability: “While the need for health-related products has increased, the pandemic has also accelerated the rise of brands with a strong sense of purpose,” says Hendler. “Society, planetary welfare, and collaboration are all at the heart of recovery, and the sustainability imperative is more important than ever. In addition to its many health benefits for healthy aging and overall wellness, krill oil is a sustainable ingredient. We take supplements, such as krill oil, as part of a healthy lifestyle, but at the same time, we want to know that these products are coming from sustainable sources. Consumers recognize that the health of the planet is as important as, and naturally linked to, the health of an individual.”

Euromed’s Zangara seconds that. “Consumers are also more aware of the importance of purchasing high-quality and safe products, with a ‘green’ ecological and sustainable added value. Euromed responds to this request by providing extracts that are evidence-based, safer and greener, thanks to the Pure-Hydro Process, a proprietary technology using physical means and ultrapure water as the only extraction solvent.” His example: Pomanox, a pomegranate extract that he says “is a nutraceutical powerhouse, rich in secondary plant compounds with unique antioxidant and age-defying properties that have a positive effect on various bodily functions. It offers evidence-based health benefits for blood pressure, sports performance, recovery, gut flora, skin and hair health, as well as cognition.”

Transparency: Adulteration was a concern all through the pandemic, and the healthy aging sector—especially given it covers so many areas—is no different. Dayton attributes it in part to the fact that people are shopping less in-store, giving bad actors a better shot at getting sales, but notes that the industry is rising to the occasion: “Due to the number of counterfeit NMN products introduced in the last year with the surge in online buying, the industry is now moving towards self-regulation and requiring third party certificates of analysis. This is a standard quality protocol for ProHealth Longevity that has always been followed, and we’re happy to see it implemented for the industry.”

Scientific Backing—and Results: “Consumers, especially millennials, are searching for products that contain clinically proven ingredients,” says Jones. “BioCell Collagen is the quintessential nutricosmetic ingredient for nutricosmetic product formulators because it addresses skin aging comprehensively and is clinically validated. Brands that use the BioCell Collagen ingredient in their finished consumer products can substantiate specific structure-function claims based on clinical data with regulatory compliance.”

Companies are creating and formulating ingredients and products precisely with this desire in mind. Osborne notes that NXT USA’s TamaFlex is scientifically backed: “TamaFlex is the first patent-pending combination ingredient to be substantiated by a double-blind study, with another nearing publication (1). The latter showed that TamaFlex starts working as soon as five days after supplementation. It features a patent-pending combination of tamarind seed and turmeric rhizome extracts, backed by published safety data. While turmeric extracts are known for their anti-inflammatory qualities, NXT’s full-spectrum rhizome extract shows superior benefits for pain compared to 95% curcuminoid products.”

 

And at the end of the day, this is all about one thing, according to Osborne: “Healthy aging is all about living better, longer.” Help your customers achieve that goal, and you’ve won a customer for life. WF

References

  1. Posani Srinivas Rao et al., “A Combination of Tamarindus indica seeds and Curcuma longa Rhizome Extracts Improves Knee Joint Function and Alleviates Pain in Non-Arthritic Adults Following Physical Activity,” International Journal of Medical Sciences. 16(6). 845-853(2019).
  2. Anna Aiello et al., “Immunosenescence and Its Hallmarks: How to Oppose Aging Strategically? A Review of Potential Options for Therapeutic Intervention,” Frontiers in Immunology. 2019. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02247/full
  3. Joseph Mercola, William Grant, and Carol Wagner, “Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity,” Nutrients. 12(11). 3361(2020). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33142828/