Insights into the healthy aging category.
Janus Baker, Marketing Brand Manager, Wakunaga of America, Mission Viejo, CA, www.kyolic.com
Ramona Billingslea, Marketing Manager, Betsy’s Health Foods, Spring, TX, www.betsyhealth.com
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, NutraScience Labs (Twinlab Consolidated Holdings), www.nutrasciencelabs.com
Dan Lifton, CEO, Quality of Life Labs, Port Chester, NY, www.qualityoflife.net
Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education, EuroPharma/Terry Naturally, Green Bay, WI, www.europharmausa.com
Marge Roman, Manager, Stay Healthy!, Las Vegas, NV, www.stayhealthylasvegas.com
While there have always been supplements that tackle some of the changes associated with aging, the category of healthy aging nutrition has evolved quite a bit since the days of Centrum Silver, for example.
Today, 50-plus American consumers arguably define aging lifestyle differently than their counterparts did in decades past.
Healthy and active living after age 50 is something that people feel they deserve and expect, and so are interested in healthy products and activities which help them achieve that—for energy, vision, cognition, bone and joint health, pain and inflammation, and more.
Here to discuss where the category is today is a panel of dietary supplement industry experts.
VR: How do you define healthy aging and how can dietary supplements play a part?
Myers: I think that many people feel healthy aging means being able to live to the fullest for as long as possible and still feel that sense of vibrancy and energy that they’ve been used to. The point in someone’s life where they feel there’s a sense of something missing or that they’ve slowed down in some way drives many individuals to dietary supplements that can address those needs.
Baker: Healthy aging is much more than simply being free from disease. It’s also more than increasing your lifespan. Instead, healthy aging involves taking the steps needed to optimize physical, mental and cognitive health. These steps include adopting a whole foods diet, engaging in regular exercise, getting good quality sleep, managing stress, cultivating a rich social life, and taking targeted supplements that focus on enhancing a person’s health and well-being. Each of these factors is critical for increasing not only lifespan but also health span.
Roman: To me, healthy aging is seeing the years add up but making them quality years—using your wisdom to make good choices and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Supplements for digestion support, structural support, immune support and brain health help fill in the gaps as your body ages. I always suggest starting supplements before problems get out of hand.
Bruno: Personally, I define healthy aging as maintaining a state of wellness that allows you to continue doing the things that you enjoy and bring meaning into your life—without an undo decrease in functionality. Along with a healthy diet, exercise and stress-control practices, dietary supplements can play a part by providing appropriate nutrients and nutraceuticals to help mitigate or otherwise stave off some of the challenges of aging, while promoting positive outcomes in personal health and wellness goals.
Billingslea: I’ve been focusing my blog posts and education efforts on vitality, which I think really encompasses several areas of health, all of which can be supported and even greatly helped by supplementation. I think vitality begins in our childhood, but that even those who grew up like me, in the 70s, the great generation of Twinkies and Capri-Sun, can start practicing healthy eating, exercising, supplementing as needed, and staying on top of our preventative care. I’ve included articles on eye health, category health for women, men and children, and general tips for aging well. I think the biggest takeaway about healthy aging is that it’s almost never too late to start healthy habits, especially if you are willing to do what it takes with your diet and supplementing to support your aging body.
I think that supplements that support the mitochondria and cellular energy like CoQ10, as well as supplements that help with connective tissue in the body, like collagen and hyaluronic acid, can play tremendous roles in a person’s search for vitality. I firmly believe a daily MVM (multivitamin mineral) formula, along with probiotics, digestive enzymes and fish oil are a must for any age. I also find that customers in my age bracket also benefit from calcium and magnesium supplements and probably vitamin D3.
Lifton: Healthy aging is more than just living longer. It’s about living better with more energy, less discomfort and enjoying a certain—forgive the pun—quality of life. Supplements featuring science-validated ingredients are an important component in achieving that.
VR: What is the state of the market for healthy aging supplements and how is the market evolving?
Baker: As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers grow older, many are looking ahead to retirement. And they want that phase of life to be healthy and active. This desire has, in turn, spurred the development of numerous anti-aging supplements designed to help these aging Americans meet this goal. According to Future Market Insights, the supplement market targeting older adults is projected to register a CAGR of 6 percent during the forecast period, up from $140 billion (U.S.) in 2021 to reach a valuation of $265 billion by 2032.
Billingslea: I’m seeing more products geared toward protection and support at the cellular level. It will be exciting to see what becomes of these mitochondrial support products in the future. I feel that even in this young, new generation driving many trends in our market, there is a desire to support good health even when one is in good health. That, along with our aging population’s needs, can only see the anti-aging supplement market grow and innovate.
Myers: There is always a strong market for people who want to stay healthy and are seeking ways to promote a youthful lifestyle, appearance and overall well-being. One challenge for retailers and manufacturers and marketers alike may be: do we call this category “healthy aging” or does the category go by a number of other names when you’re appealing to younger customers, like “daily energy,” “blood sugar and metabolism,” “daily fitness.” After all, these aspects of life, properly maintained, lead to healthy aging, so part of the question for retailers may be in how they market supplements generally geared toward healthy aging to younger customers, as well as those in the 40-plus range, who will more readily respond to a category called “healthy aging.”
As far as the market evolving, I think the message has to be made clear in the beginning that to remain active mentally and physically, the right diet, habits and supplementation need to begin early, even if it is never too late to improve.
It’s easy for people in their 20s to think that they have a long time to go before they need to worry about healthy living, but it really needs to start as soon as possible. Educational materials, reaching out through social media (which more stores are becoming experts at), and product promotions and events (when practical) are all ways to reach younger people.
Roman: Anti-aging supplements are very strong in the areas of brain health, joint health and HBAs. Collagen products are strong sellers because they address many concerns.
VR: While products that help with chronic pain, energy support, cognitive health, bone and joint health, and cellular health abound, are manufacturers developing more condition-specific healthy aging supplements or are they offering an increasing number of “more-bang-for-your-buck” products?
Lifton: I would say both. Consumers want greater value, especially today, but they also want efficacy. Historically, consumers turned to finished products with a single proprietary ingredient or a formula with a few ingredients that addressed a single structure-function area. As more healthy aging products are developed that can offer multiple benefits supported by science, I think we’ll find that consumers will pay more for the value-benefit.
Billingslea: Actually, I’m seeing pretty even distribution between products seeking to support multiple areas in the body and ones that concentrate on more specific health issues, like glutathione support products, evolving magnesium products and many collagen products that attempt to target specific areas of health while adding in support for sleep or stress, etc.
Baker: Many supplement manufacturers will continue to focus on specific physiological systems, such as cardiovascular, cognitive, joint and metabolic health. However, some manufacturers are creating products that enhance overall health on a cellular level.
For instance, a number of recent studies show that supplements based on aged garlic extract provide a variety of benefits that support healthy aging thanks to this nutrient’s powerful antioxidant, anti-glycation and anti-inflammatory properties. These benefits have been shown to directly improve many of the health concerns linked to aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, bone health, diabetes and heart disease.
Bruno: I see companies doing both. In my experience, however, I’ve seen “more-bang-for-your-buck products that help with multiple health areas” tending to do poorly more often than not. The reason seems to be that such products tend to either confuse consumers because they have multiple applications (e.g., “I have joint problems, but not blood sugar problems so maybe this is not the product for me”), or consumers simply don’t believe a single product can do all that. The old adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none” may be how they view these products rather than getting more-bang-for-your-buck. I would advise brand owners to stick with products that address specific needs.
Myers: I see quite a bit of both. Some individuals want a very specific, targeted supplement, especially for pain relief, joint health or energy because they’re looking for noticeable results. Many of the same nutrients will have effects across a wide range of health concerns, so for some customers—maybe those who are more self-directed—a general formula or single-ingredient supplement works great as part of a daily regimen. I don’t know if I see the marketplace or manufacturers necessarily leaning in one direction or another, though I think everyone is simply trying to meet the needs of their retail partners and those retailer’s customers.
Roman: There seem to be more supplements emerging for the 50-plus group. I think that combination formulas are growing in many categories to ward off pill fatigue.
VR: How big a role does personalized nutrition play in the growth of the healthy aging supplements market?
Bruno: Personalized nutrition is an admirable goal and makes sense from a general health perspective. The difficulty, however, is that true personalized nutrition requires the involvement of health care professionals that can assess individual needs via various testing methods. Consumers interested in pursuing that type of personalized nutrition are not as likely to purchase dietary supplements without professional recommendation. Of course, these days, everyone is researching supplements on the internet (from reputable and non-reputable sources), which often results in their determining their own personalized nutrition program (whether accurate or not). This approach will certainly continue to inform the growth of the healthy aging supplements market.
Billingslea: I think that there have to be specific products for men and women as we age. Even a child vs. a teenager have different needs. So having supplements that help with “senior moments,” hot flashes, low libido and more really helps us help our customers meet the needs they have right now. Lifton: There is no one-size-fits-all supplement, so manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of developing formulas for, and tailoring products to, different consumer segments.
VR: For manufacturers, what are the top cognitive support products that retailers should be aware of?
Lifton: Retailers should be aware of Quality of Life’s Serenelle, which features PharmaGABA and Sensoril, a product that is science-supported to naturally reduce occasional stress and increase energy and focus. We also offer PureBalance Serotonin, which provides the raw materials needed to make serotonin, plus additional ingredients that promote a positive mood, reduce stress, encourage sleep and curb appetite. This product also includes Relora, a proprietary blend of Magnolia officinalis bark extract and Phellodendron amurense bark extract that has been shown to support a healthy mood.
Baker: When it comes to cognitive support, it’s important to utilize ingredients that are backed by both traditional use and clinical research. This is why Wakunaga of America offers a trio of brain-specific supplements based on Gingko biloba, a centuries-old herb shown to improve blood flow to the brain, as well as concentration, focus, learning, memory and mental acuity.
The premium Ginkgo biloba in Kyolic Brain Focus is standardized to 24 percent ginkgo flavonglycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones—active constituents with antioxidant properties responsible for the herb’s well documented health benefits.
Kyolic Brain Memory is a proprietary, triple-extract herbal blend containing a combination of aged garlic extract, ginseng, and Ginkgo biloba to support healthy brain function and memory.
Kyolic Neuro-Logic’s exclusive cognitive function formula—which was developed by David Perlmutter, MD—provides neuro-protective and neurotrophic effects. Studies show that the aged garlic extract, choline, Ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, carnitine, folic acid, and vitamin B12 in Neuro-Logic support healthy neuron and brain function.
Bruno: Bacopa monnieri leaf extract—in research, this extract enhanced the ability to acquire and retain new memories. In other research, L-theanine and caffeine helped maintain focus.
VR: For manufacturers, what are the top pain and inflammation relief products that retailers should be aware of?
Baker: Curcumin has gained a well-earned reputation for its clinically proven anti-inflammatory properties. However, this compound from the curry spice turmeric isn’t well absorbed by the body.
Meriva Turmeric Complex, however, is a proprietary blend of curcumin and phosphatidylcholine that provides superior absorption and bioavailability compared to other unformulated curcumin extracts.
Kyolic Healthy Inflammation Response combines Meriva Turmeric Complex with Aged Garlic Extract—a pairing that provides powerful anti-inflammatory support for effective pain relief and healthier aging.
Bruno: Andrographis paniculata extract (as ParActin) has been shown to reduce inflammatory chemicals that cause pain and inflammation in muscle and reduced joint pain. Liposomal β-caryophyllene (as Rephyll) significantly reduced the pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.
VR: For manufacturers, what are the top bone and joint health products that retailers should be aware of?
Lifton: One of Quality of Life’s stand-out healthy aging products is Yellow and Black Turmeric in its Curcumin-SR product. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and the micronized technology of MicroActive Curcumin provides 10 times greater absorption than regular curcumin with an extended-release time for longer-lasting efficacy.
We have combined that with Sirtmax, a proprietary black turmeric extract, which has been shown to support the SIRT1 anti-aging gene. It supports joint comfort and also helps maintain blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol already within a healthy range. Together, these ingredients offer aging consumers a variety of science-supported benefits.
Cartiflex is formulated specifically for bone and joint health and features two clinically tested ingredients that increase mobility and range of motion.
Bruno: In a three-year study, vitamin K2 (as menquinone-7) significantly decreased the age-related decline in bone mineral content and bone mineral density.
In six-month study, cucumber fruit extract (as Q-Actin) at 20 mg was significantly more effective than 2,700 mg of glucosamine/chondroitin in promoting joint comfort.
VR: For manufacturers, what are the top energy support products that retailers should be aware of?
Baker: Consumers often turn to quick fixes like caffeine to increase energy. However, while caffeine can give users a jumpstart, it only provides a temporary boost, followed by an energy slump. What’s more, caffeine and other stimulants can lead to dependency. For lasting energy without the crash, most nutritionists and dietitians recommend consuming a diet high in energizing foods.
Kyo-Green Powdered Drink Mix to the rescue! This proprietary drink mix contains a unique blend of superfoods like barley grass, wheat grass, brown rice, chlorella, kelp and prebiotics that provide sustained energy and nutritional benefits for the whole body.
Bruno: In research, Rhodiola rosea root extract helped reduce fatigue and improve capacity for mental work during stress. Coenzyme Q10 has shown improved performance and recovery time during physically demanding activity.
Lifton: Oligonol is a dynamic healthy aging product that has been shown to enhance circulation and endurance while lessening fatigue. Studies have also shown it addresses visceral belly fat, wrinkles, fine lines and brown spots, making it a high-value product for healthy aging consumers. VR: What specific advice do you have for retailers in merchandising healthy aging products, given the wide range of conditions under this tent? Bruno: Don’t try to do it all at once. Focus on one or two areas at a time, and then change up your displays to focus on other areas after a while. Otherwise it can overwhelm customers.
Billingslea: The closest thing we have to a “vitality section” per se is our hair, skin, and collagen section. Everything else has its own area, even though we might consider them under the larger vitality umbrella.
Most of our customers are mid-40s and up, so many of the articles and products I put in emails or highlight on our website tend to lean toward those populations. However, I also try to keep the younger audience engaged with information they might also find interesting, like tips for exercise or healthy pregnancies.
Baker: Consumers today are better educated about health and aging than previous generations have been. Despite this, choosing the right supplement for a consumer’s particular situation can be difficult. An educated staff can help guide aging consumers with questions about specific ingredients and products. What’s more, having educational material available in store can empower consumers and build trust between shoppers and retailers. These materials can include articles, booklets and brochures. In addition, displays and end caps featuring products geared toward healthy aging can make older shoppers feel seen and heard. Health fairs that focus on healthy aging can also drive business among this important demographic.
Roman: I merchandize some on off-shelf displays and sections of condition-specific supplements that have vitamins, herbs and combination formulas. I have sections for brain health, joint health, skin health and energy support. I also have men’s and women’s sections that address some male and female issues of aging, including menopause, prostate health and problems with libido.
Myers: We’re always able to help retailers in any way we can to promote products. That means we can develop educational presentations for a store’s staff, we can provide sales material, product literature and scientific pieces related to products, and of course, we can always help answer any questions that retailers may have about any of our products.
As for marketing the healthy aging category, the big question is at what point in a customer’s life are they comfortable with the term “healthy aging?” At what point do customers feel like they need to specifically attend to those concerns. I would guess that the average age would be somewhere around 40, but every person is unique, so it may vary.
Promotions that focus on healthy aging are an excellent way to start—and highlighting the various health concerns that make up that category, including metabolism, pain and inflammation, cellular health, cognitive function, daily energy and cardio strength—can definitely drive interest. After all, every one of us is going to go through some level of aging. We might as well make it as enjoyable and healthy as possible! VR