Manufacturers and retailers agree that the bone and joint supplement market is starting to skew to younger populations interested in prevention, not treatment.
Bone and joint health is a concern for older people and they have kept the market brisk. But in recent years, younger generations have taken the reins. Their fervor for prevention and more rigorous research showing faster results has caused this segment of the population to lead the way for market growth.
This focus on prevention is changing the face of the average bone and joint health product market and manufacturers and retailers are taking notice.
According to a recent study, Burden of Major Musculoskeletal Conditions, published Bulletin of the World Health Organization and written by A.D. Woolf and B. Pfleger, “Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in Western populations. It accounts for a substantial number of health care concerns.”
According to this research, “As life expectancy increases, osteoarthritis is anticipated to become the fourth leading cause of disability by the year 2020.” Jim Daily III, PhD, president of Daily Manufacturing in North Carolina, noted that the market is still very strong for bone and joint health supplements, and should be expected to grow as the aging population increasingly wants to remain active throughout their life.
He added that he believes that while the market used to be more directed toward preventing osteoporosis and arthritis, it is now becoming more diverse with more interest in remaining flexible and preventing repetitive motion injuries. “Increasingly, people are becoming aware of the critical role that inflammation plays in all types of bone and joint disease as well as in many other aspects of health and aging,” he explained.
Dan Chapman, founder and chief executive officer of Redd Remedies, Inc. in Illinois, stated that while Baby Boomers still make up a large portion of the population who buy these supplements, “a younger segment of the population is looking to joint health products to prevent issues later in life.”
He said the market is evolving to serve these changing needs by offering new, innovative ingredients and delivery formats.
Darren Landis, president of Montana-based Hyalogic, added that people are interested in prevention much younger. He reported that retailers are always asking about people starting these supplements in their 20s.
Supplement purchase trends are often a good indicator of market evolution and change within the bone and joint health audience. According to Dr. Gerald Cysewski, chief scientific officer with Hawaii-based Nutrex, the company has found that sales of some of their joint supplements, such as BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin have been skewing to younger audiences to help prevent future damage and injuries.
He added, “We’ve found within our sales of astaxanthin that the demographic of customers can vary tremendously. In the past, the market was geared toward seniors, but we’ve found that the younger generations are starting on joint supplements.”
While glucosamine and chondroitin are still major products in this category, noted Daily, newer emerging products including omega-3 fatty acids, and herbal anti-inflammatory compounds such as curcumin, boswellia, ginger, capsaicin and other ingredients are also quite important and could move into the lead for bone and joint health products.
Daily said that in the new product category, “Vitamin K has become a major nutrient for bone health and preventing osteoporosis.” He sees this nutrient increasingly being combined with vitamin D and calcium to control inflammation and keep bones strong.
“Bones constantly undergo remodeling with osteoclasts breaking bone and osteoblasts rebuilding new bone mass,” he explained. “Inflammation causes the immune system to release chemicals called cytokines that stimulate osteoclast activity, causing an imbalance in the osteoclast/osteoblast activity that favors bone loss,” he said, citing research published this year in the Journal of Immunology Research, Article ID: 832127 and conducted by Amarasekara DS, Yu J, Rho J. When it comes to new products in the market, Daily also indicated that hyaluronic acid is something that is a relatively new product for joint health. He also pointed out that the manner of application for this product is different as it can be medically injected into joints with osteoarthritis as well as used orally as a supplement.
According to Nutrex’s Cysewski, a new product they have created called JointAstin combines astaxanthin, vegetarian glucosamine and boswellia serrata extract. He commented, “Since astaxanthin has been shown to support joint health, combining it with a well-known joint nutrient like glucosamine creates an effective combination of ingredients for greater consumer results and satisfaction.”
Chapman agreed that glucosamine and chondroitin still lead the category, but mainly because of a paucity of choice within the category, he noted. He added that this is about to change with the introduction of innovative, food-derived ingredients—particularly those not sourced from shellfish—are gaining ground. The company’s NEM (natural eggshell membrane) is one such ingredient the company features this highly effective ingredient in all of their joint health products.
“Redd Remedies offers Joint Health Original, featuring Membrell Original NEM in once-daily capsules and black cherry flavor Soft Chews and Joint Health Advanced, also featuring Membrell Original NEM in combination with food-based antioxidants and additional herbal support, boswellia and turmeric, for superior joint comfort,” Chapman noted.
When it comes to new ways of using these supplements, Daily, of Daily Manufacturing, added he was most impressed with the rise of topical joint health products. Ingredients such as emu oil, capsaicin, wintergreen oil, MSM and white willow bark are among the ingredients most commonly used in topical preparations.
According to Alene Johnson, director of product education for Washington-based Barlean’s, the company has a new joint health product, Joint Remedy. This supplement combines purified and concentrated palmitoleic omega-7 (from cold-water fish) and hyaluronic acid.
Johnson noted that these two ingredients work together in a once-daily mini soft gel to support the lowering of inflammation and cushioning of joints because each serving contains 210 mg of pure palmitoleic acid (Provinal)—the same amount and specific ingredient used in studies showing a remarkable lowering of CRP in just 30 days, and 40 mg of high-quality hyaluronic acid.
Some of the new trends these manufacturers point to include delivering faster results. For example, according to Chapman, Redd Remedies, the fact that consumers want quick results for joint health is one of the drawbacks to glucosamine and chondroitin, as those ingredients can take up to six weeks to start working.
In contrast, he explained, NEM offers consumers fast results, within seven to 10 days. “Furthermore,” he said, “consumers are looking for a joint product that goes beyond targeting cartilage alone. They want something to support the entire joint structure—the ligaments, tendons, synovial fluid and the cartilage.” Landis said he believes hyaluronic acid is the best way to cushion joints which is one of main ways to protect the entire structure. “When you lose the cushion in the joints, you lose the motor oil that protects the structure and that is when you have problems.”
He added that chondroitin-protective fluids are the key to bone and joint health. In addition, glycol amino glycan (GAG) are important because this long-chain, rope-like sugary molecule binds to water and moisturizes joints while creating the needed lubricating fluid preventing degradation and bone loss.
Alternatives to Pills
With pill fatigue becoming a major drawback for many daily-user consumers, manufacturers are looking at different forms for their supplements.
For example, Redd Remedies offers the Joint Health Original Soft Chew as an alternative to traditional capsules and tablets. According to Chapman, “Unlike other chewable formats that often increase the suggested serving size, we have preserved the once a day serving of Joint Health Original.”
Johnson pointed out that Barlean’s has created a form for consumers to use in their daily regimen. “Our Omega Swirl delivery system is an emulsification made with all natural berry flavors. Emulsification of dietary fatty acids, such as omegas, makes it easy for anyone—even those with digestive problems—to absorb and utilize these important ingredients.”
She pointed out that the smooth, creamy texture and delicious flavors make the products easy and pleasurable to use each day. The key to seeing results is compliance and Barlean’s is committed to helping their customers meet their daily supplement commitments with their emulsifications, which make compliance and absorption easy for everyone.
Hyalogic’s Landis agreed consumers are tired of taking pills. “Consumers are looking for chewables, liquids and gummies … our sales support this. Consumers are suffering from ‘pill fatigue.’”
Emphasis on Clinical Research
When asked what the most exciting research is for these manufacturers, clinical trials involving human subjects were a shared theme.
Daily noted a very recent European clinical trial that found a supplement with glucosamine hydrochloride (500 mg), and chondroitin sulfate (400 mg) taken three times daily as highly effective for patients with osteoarthritis and pain in the knee. This study combined chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine for painful knee osteoarthritis: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, non-inferiority trial versus celecoxib, is an extended report published by BMJ publishing group. Daily warned that several previous clinical trials had not shown effectiveness of these supplements and he believes this is due to differences in both quality and dose of the supplements. He cautioned that manufacturers need to be vigilant to make sure that high-quality ingredients are provided at the optimal dose.
Landis explained the bone and joint health supplement consumer, especially younger customers, are increasingly demanding more scientific research. “Retailers report consumers are asking about research directly … consumers do their research online and then come in looking for specific ingredients and products.”
According to Landis, the entire industry is relying more heavily on scientific research than before. “This is a good thing,” he added, “because they more science behind it the better the industry will become.”
Chapman said the most important research he has seen in published peer reviewed clinical research journals involves the human research on NEM because it demonstrates the effectiveness of NEM on pain reduction, joint comfort, joint mobility and range of motion.
Barlean’s Johnson agreed about research that includes human subjects. She said, “We are always interested in omega-3 research that supports not only what we already understand about omega-3s, but how we might use omega-3s to help those who are deficient. Dosages used in studies are of real interest to us—and of course research that includes human subjects is very important.”
Cysewski of Nutrex also endorsed clinical trials with human subjects. “I believe supplement manufacturers would be very interested in long-term (six to 12 months) human clinical trials with aging patients that demonstrate joint and bone health benefits offered by nutritional supplements,” he explained.
Consumer Education Evolves
Another trend Daily said he has seen developing is improving efforts by manufacturers and retailers to educate consumers. And he said he believes manufacturers are doing a better job of producing accurate and educational materials to help inform about new products, how they should be used, and their benefits.
“These tools are very valuable to retailers as they use them to help consumers make informed decisions about their purchases of these supplements,” he said. He also noted that the increase in obesity among Americans is likely to increase pressure on their joints and will lead to more health issues in this area.
Johnson also agreed with Daily that manufacturers are focusing more on educating consumers instead of merely selling products. She acknowledged that retailers are busy, so her company has tapped into resources such as online training programs for retail staff to learn more about the products at their convenience in order to share their knowledge with consumers.
“In addition, we provide in-store demonstrations and product samplings as well as free consumer education cards and product education booklets,” she said. “These materials encourage the consumer to learn more and provide solid information concerning benefits and research.”
Cysewski also supports the trend of educating consumers via education for retail store employees. “Manufacturers like ourselves focus on education for store retailers as well as end consumers. We provide free brochures and books on our products as well as in-store training for store employees,” he explained.
Consumer Education is Key Concern
When selling bone and joint supplements to consumers, retailers cited consumer education as a key element.
Dr. Phylis B. Canion, owner of Organic Emporium in Texas, described how she relied on Redd Remedies for bone and joint health supplements because of the level of support the manufacturer provides when it comes to educating consumers. “One of the reasons I recommend Redd Remedies bone and joint health, is (I know) if I have a question regarding the product, I am able to speak with someone with knowledge of the formulation, a personal touch.”
Canion said her best-selling bone and joint supplements are those made by Redd Remedies.
“(The physicians I work with) know my passion for good health and the level of research I have done before making a suggestion,” she said. “I only sell and recommend Redd Remedies Bone Health and Joint Health Advanced products. (I also provide) nutritional recommendations that I believe benefit the absorption of the product.”
According to Juanita R. Landon, assistant store manager with Garner’s Natural Market in South Carolina, clinical research and consumer education are key features in selling bone and joint health supplements.
She pointed out that her customers have achieved excellent results using supplements that feature natural sources instead of synthetic ingredients.
“The body responds better to nutrients it can identify instead of synthetics,” she said. “(During) the four years of working at Garner’s I have personally witnessed customers dropping prescriptions and rebuilding bone density with New Chapter Bone Strength Zyflamend. Studies have shown plant-sourced calcium and trace minerals in Bone Strength help support not only joint’s bone strength, but also its ability to flex, straighten and bend.”
Landon said clinical studies supports the anecdotal results she has seen in her customers’ use of the product, saying its multi-herbal formulation in conjunction with its active phytonutrients help improve flexibility and mobility.
“I feel the great response to this product is because of the whole food ingredients.”
She also appreciated the education that New Chapter provides her employees so they, in turn, can educate customers.
“New Chapter’s regional representatives and national trainer visit our store about once a month to convey the need for these supplements. They also talk one on one with each of our employees to answer any questions.”
She commends the manufacturers efforts to educate the consumer directly. “New Chapter extends an extra 20 percent discount to our customers,” she said, “gives our store great free information pamphlets and buys retail display space to highlight their products and their benefits when they have a promotion.” VR
Woolf, AD and Pfleger, B, Burden of Major Musculoskeletal Conditions, Bull World Health Organ, 2003; 81(9): 646–656.
Treating Osteoarthritis with Chondroprotective Agent, David S. Hungerford, MD. Professor, Orthopedic Surgery, Chief, Division of Arthritis Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, About Joints.
Hochberg MC, Martel-Pelletier J, Monfort J,et al, Combined chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine for painful knee osteoarthritis: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, non-inferiority trial versus celecoxib, Ann Rheum Dis (10.1136/2014-206792).
For More Information:
Barleans, (360) 922-1526
Daily Manufacturing, (704) 782-0700
Hyalogic, (866) 318-8484
Nutrex Hawaii, (800) 453-1187
Redd Remedies, (888) 453-5058