The supplement market for bone, joint and muscle health is broadening beyond older adults to younger consumers looking for new ingredients, delivery and quicker results.
The market for joint, bone and muscle health remains a strong and robust segment, as consumers seek to keep their frames strong and stable. Finished product manufacturers are competing to attract these consumers with innovative and potent products.
The market has been consistently growing over the last several years and it’s poised to surge to more than $14 billion by the year 2024, said Sébastien Bornet, vice president of sales and marketing at Horphag Research, the New Jersey-based North American supplier of Pycnogenol. “We’ve monitored continued sales growth driven by the aging population who are more susceptible to bone fracture and arthritis concerns.”
Martin Vidal, president and chief executive officer with Canada-based Genacol, added that, “A large portion of the population in the occidental country is aging rapidly but wants to stay active. The trend of practicing intense activities, such as a marathon, activates a faster deterioration of cartilage and puts more pressure on muscle and bones. People do not rely only on good nutrition anymore—they want to make sure that they can get everything to stay in the best shape as possible as long as possible by taking natural supplements that target specific conditions.”
Illinois-based Vital Protein’s Vice President of Product Development and Co-founder, Corey Friese, said that maintaining the structural integrity off the body is extremely important, so products that support bone, muscle and joint health continue to gain traction, especially for those looking for solutions to common signs of aging as well as those engaged in fitness and exercise.
“The market is evolving though,” he said. “Products that support joint function are being consumed more and more for supporting cartilage health and mobility during and after exercise, rather than those looking solely for support due to old age, for instance. Some ingredients offer multi-functional benefits and provide support for all three areas, such as collagen, which provides amino acids for muscle, as well as joints and bone.”
The evolution is also seeing another change. Dan Chapman, founder and CEO of Illinois-based Redd Remedies, noted that younger consumers have become interested in the category. “As the Millennial market share continues to grow, so does this particular category—especially in prevention of health issues involving these body systems.”
The Changing Category
Supplements are addressing more specific benefits than ever. “There are less and less ingredients that claim to cure it all,” Vidal explained. “Research and development to prove the efficacy of an ingredient is a must-have today. Because of this, Genacol has concluded a five-year research agreement with McGill University in Canada to develop new products by identifying key peptides and amino acids from Genacol Aminolock Collagen. He added that Baby Boomers and women over 50 are the prime target customer for this category.
However, while Baby Boomers still make up a considerable share of this space, Millennials are looking for products to support their active lifestyles and their pursuit for overall wellness, Chapman added. “Millennials want to live the healthiest lives possible and this includes supporting their body structures so that they can remain as active as possible for as long as possible.”
Retailer Theo Kitschker, manager of Green Acres Health Foods in Piscataway, NJ, confirmed that his store sees a mix of older and younger customers looking for products in this space. “Especially younger people who do intensive exercise and younger people with joint problems,” he said.
Chapman noted that people are looking for “whole food” ingredients and products with great dose efficiency and quick results. “For example, our Joint Heath line of products contains Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM), which is food based, uses no harsh solvents in production and has a simple one-a-day dose. What’s even more exciting is that this ingredient can provide benefits in as little as four to 10 days,” he said. “NEM represents a clear shift from the more common ingredients, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These ingredients can take up to six weeks to achieve their full benefit and the doses can be quite large. Quite simply, people just don’t want to wait that long to feel better and don’t want to take three to six capsules a day. No other whole food ingredient compares to NEM, which contains naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans, such as chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, as well as three varieties of collagen.”
Timothy Mount, CN, CCMH, director of education with California-based NeoCell, said, traditionally, glucosamine and chondroitin have dominated the joint supplement category, “but those two nutrients are only found in cartilage. Joints are also comprised of bones, ligaments, tendons and synovial fluid, so additional nutrients are needed for comprehensive joint support beyond glucosamine and chondroitin,” he said. “Collagen, which makes up approximately 86 percent of ligaments and 99 percent of tendons, is likely a more important nutrient to take for joint health and many users report noticeable benefits within weeks, while glucosamine and chondroitin have varying marginal results. Hyaluronic acid may be the next most important nutrient for joint health because it assists with joint cushioning within cartilage and is the main molecule in synovial fluid, the ‘oil’ that reduces friction within the joint.”
Mount pointed out that NeoCell’s Move Matrix is an excellent example of a product combining collagen, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin along with a blend of herbal antioxidants to support a healthy inflammatory response.
Another strong leader is protein, Friese said, especially for the muscle category. “Plant proteins would most likely be classified as the ingredients gaining ground in that market, as many consumers are leaning toward a plant-based diet nowadays. The bone health category has a fairly steady collection of products providing calcium, vitamin K2 and D3. Collagen continues to have growing interest for joint health. In addition, adaptogens or bioactive substances, such as ashwagandha or curcumin are being consumed for their joint-protective properties.
Kitschker agreed that the top trending ingredients, especially for bone health, are plant-based calcium and vitamin K2.
While looking at ingredients, consumers also seek safe and branded products and supplements with scientific validation that naturally boost collagen and hyaluronic acid production and offer protective effects against free radical damage in our joints, Bornet said. Recent study findings show that Pycnogenol’s antioxidant polyphenols are distributed directly into joint synovial fluid to protect cells from free radicals. For muscle health, individuals are seeking products that increase nitric oxide production and preserve muscle mass. Pycnogenol, from French maritime pine bark extract, is shown to support muscle health and curb muscle loss associated with aging.
Grown exclusively along the coast of Southwest France, Bornet said that Pycnogenol is shown to promote joint health and muscle health in several studies, including:
• A 2017 study showed the first evidence that polyphenols from Pycnogenol distribute into the synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis
• A study conducted in 2016 revealed that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol helps stabilized muscle loss and supports muscular function and boosts daily muscle endurance
• A 2009 study demonstrates the anti-inflammatory properties of Pycnogenol on inflammatory mediators COX-2 and 5-LOX
• A 2008 study showed Pycnogenol to naturally reduce inflammatory marker CRP in individuals with osteoarthritis
• A 2008 study revealed Pycnogenol’s ability to reduce knee osteoarthritis symptoms and discomfort.
Preventative supplementation is now a significant trend. “Rather than wait until it’s ‘too late,’ people are taking muscle, bone, and joint supporting products and ingredients at earlier and earlier ages,” Friese noted. “Unique formulations and ingredient combinations are also being launched, with the hopes of offering more potent products. An example would be a product that combines glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric and MSM, as opposed to a product that only contains glucosamine.”
“Consumers continue to look for alternative delivery from the traditional capsule or tablet,” Chapman added. “While our Joint Health capsules full dose is only one capsule a day, we also have Joint Health Soft Chews, which deliver the same clinical dose in one great tasting black cherry flavored soft chew.”
Primary hurdles in this category, according to Friese, include mounting competition and proof of efficacy. “With large consumer interest, many brands are jumping on the train and offering bone, muscle and joint supporting products. Consumers also want something that works, so if your product does not have research behind it or they feel like it is not helping them, they will move onto another product,” he said.
Consumer awareness itself is often an obstacle. Bornet noted that consumers actively work to build muscle, yet pain or injury is often the driving motivation for bone and joints. “More consumers are taking action earlier in life as a preventive measure, and we expect that market share to grow,” he said. “Retailers and manufacturers should be informed on quality and new research behind ingredients. As an ingredient supplier, it’s our responsibility to provide easily accessible information about our branded ingredients and educate target markets on new research and their benefits. We support our brand globally with consumer education campaigns and work closely with customers on co-marketing campaigns.”
At Redd Remedies, “The hurdles for us is simply the introduction of products that work so quickly in a category where the consumer has been disappointed by the traditional remedies,” Chapman noted. “They need to be willing to try something new and when they do, they are very pleased.”
As for manufacturers, Vidal stated that legislation has been very different from one country to another, but that may lead to better efficacy. “In Canada for instance, health claims aimed at curing a disease are permitted under strict analysis of all the clinical studies. Because we had to meet the stringent criteria in Canada, Genacol invested in R&D to prove the effectiveness of Genacol Aminolock Collagen and became the No. 1 collagen product for joints worldwide. On the contrary of some of our competitors, we are looking positively at a legislation that raises the bar on showing the effectiveness of ingredients and products because it assures a long-term viability of the natural supplements industry by increasing its credibility.”
Meeting Consumer Needs
Clinical research on any ingredient that claims to support muscle, bone and joint health is always of interest, Friese said. “I think that any market research on what ingredients consumers view as the most trustworthy is of value. For instance, why would a consumer purchase a joint health product touting omega-3s, instead of a product that features curcumin?
Chapman pointed out that clinical trials on NEM, which is the key ingredient in Redd Remedies Joint Health products, has shown NEM’s ability to reduce joint stiffness from exercise in a healthy population group in just four days, as well as relieve joint aches and pain from over-exertion in only seven to 10 days. Multiple studies have shown that NEM may actually help protect cartilage from degradation associated with normal wear and tear in healthy individuals.
“This category is not going anywhere,” Friese concluded, adding that it will only continue to grow. “An aging population and thirst for fitness and performance is what will drive innovation and growth.”
Vidal offered the same opinion, adding that the population is aging worldwide in occidental countries but most of them want to stay active. “Also, all those new ingredients, like Genacol AminoLock Collagen, help them to stay active, but we hope, will help this population to increase the aging limit. The future is bright for natural supplement companies that are professional and invest in meeting the needs of the population.” VR
Boswellia: The Next Trend for Joint Pain
Founded in 1935, Alchem International recently introduced FlexiQule to the USA market. FlexiQule is a clinically tested combination of proprietary extractives (Boswellia G-301 and Ginger G-321) attained through Alchem International’s PhytoAdvance technology. The FlexiQule range of formulations will be further extended in 2018 with the addition of a fast-acting joint pain topical plus the addition of a FlexiQule Plus featuring an added component that targets connective tissue regeneration.
Tommaso Mastrocola, Alchem USA vice president of sales and marketing in Texas, explained that boswellia is the active extract of Indian frankincense. “With thousands of years of safe and effective use in treatments through ayurveda, boswellia is receiving the positive attention it deserves. We utilize our very own Boswellia G301 specific phytoadnace extract in FlexiQule. We believe that our control from ingredient sourcing to extraction process to clinical validation is where the true value AlchemLife shines.”
The target customers are the traditional natural products consumers as well as the ever-increasing community of active, affluent individuals over 40 seeking to increase movement and vitality without everyday pain. “These individuals seek a natural yet effective solution, and that is what we seek to provide,” Mastrocola said.
And, he added, boswellia is the next big thing. “With several highly respected brands and advocates behind the increased awareness, boswellia is beginning to see some of the attention it deserves. With FlexiQule and AlchemLife, we look forward to doing our part to advance awareness of this wonderfully beneficial natural ingredient.”
For More Information:
Alchem USA, www.alchemlife.com/us
Redd Remedies, www.reddremedies.com
Vital Proteins, www.vitalproteins.com