The goal: to enjoy a long, healthy life. Emphasis on healthy. “Increasingly, consumers are moving away from the desire to look younger and pursuing a lifestyle that will extend their health span and improve longevity,” says Shoji Matsukawa, General Manager, Organic Chemicals Sales & Marketing, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America. “In other words, consumers not only want to live to an old age, but they want to live well to an old age. So instead of looking for ways to delay the aging process, consumers today are more focused on living longer by practicing healthy aging. They are taking steps to maintain better brain and heart health function by incorporating exercise and physical activity into their daily routine, eating a proper diet, participating in leisure and social activities to stimulate mental sharpness and scheduling health screenings regularly.”
Thomas Li, Business Development Manager-Health at IFF Health, adds, “Seniors want to be able to live the same vibrant life as they have always been able to before. This includes taking a proactive approach to preventative health actions in order to address many of the issues that affect them before they become serious. Many health areas are of interest, notably cognitive health, heart health, and especially in light of the current situation we are facing, immune health. The goal of these focus areas is to promote a high quality of life as you grow older. Especially with the high costs of medical care, taking preventative measures with lifestyle choices and supplementation has been increasingly the more popular route to take.” Li notes that, being cognizant of the growing need for healthy aging support, IFF Health has a wide range of ingredients that support a variety of health indications from cardiovascular to immune health.
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, adds Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, Sr. Director of Research & Development, Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation. “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.” And while both healthy aging and anti-aging products have a role, Sugarek MacDonald adds, their functionality is different: “Products for healthy aging include items that work on the body’s own natural physiology.”
Here, a look at some of the supplements that do just that to help people live their best life.
Supporting Memory & Energy
Healthy mitochondria are critical for healthy aging and minimizing neurodegenerative diseases, as well as for enhancing cognitive function and memory, boosting energy and more, says Matsukawa. But as we age, mitochondrial function begins to decline. Enter BioPQQ. “Decades of clinical research has shown that BioPQQ can increase the quality and levels of mitochondria while removing dysfunctional ones through a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis,” he explains. “By reenergizing mitochondria, this all-natural ingredient made by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical through a proprietary fermentation process in Japan, can fuel cellular activity in the body.”
Matsukawa points to one study (Saihara, K. et al., 2017) that showed BioPQQ increases the NAD+ level in the cell, a key factor for mitochondrial biogenesis. “BioPQQ can also boost Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is important for neuron development and health. Studies have shown that BioPQQ may stimulate NGF synthesis and secretion, which could play a role in the growth and recovery of damaged nerves and organs (Murase K. et al., 1993). As people age, memory begins to fade due to neurons in the brain shrinking. NGF can help these neurons and positively impact brain functions and memory recall. Studies suggest that taking BioPQQ for 24 weeks may increase memory recall, reverse the decline in cognitive function and improve other higher brain functions like spatial awareness.”
Minimizing the need for repair processes saves energy and other resources for active lifestyles and healthy immunity, adds Kim Perkins, Supplement Category Manager, NOW. She points to CoQ10. “It’s a major player in electron transport chain, a fancy name for the process your body uses to create energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Around 95% of the cellular energy your body needs is generated through this process. With healthy energy levels it’s easier to maintain a fit and active lifestyle. CoQ10 supports a variety of important bodily processes, including cardiovascular function, brain and nervous system health, immune system function, healthy aging, and more.”
Also of benefit for brain health and more: curcumin. Perkins calls it a “powerhouse” ingredient. “Our trademarked curcumins include Longvida in our CurcuBrain product for brain and memory benefits; Meriva in our Curcumin Phytosome product for joint and muscle benefits; and CurcuFRESH, which supplies dried turmeric juice, which absorbs far better than generic curcumins without the use of nanotechnology or chemical additives because it retains the water-solubility of eating fresh turmeric.”
Promoting Healthy Joints
Research commissioned by Lonza indicates that joint health is one of the top five health concerns for U.S. consumers of all ages, says Juliana Erickson, Senior Marketing Manager, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition. “Our research also indicates that 37% of Boomers are likely to choose supplements that support joint mobility (1). Older age groups typically seek nutritional solutions to help manage age-related joint conditions such as osteoarthritis (1). However, joints can also undergo wear and tear as a result of prolonged exercise over time, which means that active consumers now increasingly seek supplement options that help to proactively support their joint health as part of their healthy aging regime too.”
Lonza offers UC-II undenatured type II collagen, which Erickson says has been clinically studied to support joint health, flexibility and mobility in healthy adults, at a daily dose of 40mg. ”Lonza’s UC-II undenatured type II collagen has been proposed to maintain collagen structure for joint health benefits,” she adds. ”It also has a unique proposed mode of action (2) as it is believed to initiate an immune cascade which use the body’s natural repair mechanisms in the joints, meaning it may play a role in supporting the rebuilding of cartilage. When taken orally, it is hypothesized that the intact undenatured type II collagen reaches specialized lymphoid follicles found in portions of the small intestine. These areas are known as Peyer’s Patches and they form a part of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It has been proposed that, once the UC-II undenatured type II collagen makes contact with the Peyer’s Patches, it starts interacting with the immune system. The interaction leads to the stimulation of the regulatory T-cell, which goes on to produce several regulatory molecules that are transported by the body to the site of the joint. Upon arrival at the joint, these regulatory molecules, called cytokines, induce knee joint resident chondrocytes to begin producing more type II collagen and other constituents that make up the structural matrix of the knee joint. With new organic options coming soon, and its compatibility with food & beverage applications, UC-II brand also offers flexibility in use.”
Also offering collagen in its products, NOW’s Perkin’s says: “BioCell Collagen is a patented ingredient that can promote healthy joint function, comfortable movement, and strong connective tissue while maintaining normal moisture levels in aging skin. This is a multifaceted product that supports health and aging from the inside out.” NOW also carries a Collagen Peptides Powder with clinical studies to back its effectiveness, which mixes into a beverage of choice, she says. “These hydrolyzed collagens are predigested for better bioavailability.”
Perkins also spotlights vitamin C, which, in addition to supporting the immune system, is involved in tissue growth and repair due to its role in the formation of collagen.
Another way to support collagen comes from Lycored: “Lumenato is our ingestible skincare product with a focus on anti-aging,” says Golan Raz, Head of Global Health Division, Lycored. “It’s a carefully calibrated extract of natural tomato nutrients and antioxidants. It’s bioavailable and can significantly elevate levels of active phytonutrients. Research has shown that it supports the skin’s ability to calm the response to pro-inflammatory cytokines and maintain natural levels of collagen. (For more on collagen, read “Skin Health From the Inside Out.”)
Tim Hammond, VP of Sales & Marketing, Bergstrom Nutrition, offers an additional multitasking option: “OptiMSM provides multiple benefits addressing healthy aging in three key areas: joints, muscle, and skin. Maintaining an active lifestyle has numerous benefits as we age, but pain and soreness are often deterrents. OptiMSM can help improve joint health and protect cartilage from damage by addressing mobility and pain (3-5). Research also shows how OptiMSM reduces pain and muscle damage after strenuous activity or exercise (6-8). Lastly, healthy skin is also associated with aging, and research suggests OptiMSM supports the structural integrity of the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (9).
Strong Bones & a Healthy Heart
Turning to bones, Kate Quackenbush, Director of Communications with NattoPharma, says compromised bone health, considered by many to be an age-related concern, is more than that: It is the product of a Vitamin K2 deficiency. And the same, she says, goes for another concern associated with aging: cardiovascular health.
“It is imperative to correct this deficiency early to put us on the best possible path to health,” Quackenbush stresses. “Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is unique because it not only supports bone health, but it simultaneously impacts arterial calcification. It does this by helping the body to properly utilize calcium by activating K-dependent proteins already present in the body:
- Osteocalcin binds calcium to the bone mineral matrix (where it is needed)
- Matrix Gla Protein (MGP) inhibits calcium from depositing in arteries and soft tissues (where it can increase cardiovascular risks).
Quackenbush also notes that no other compound—drug or vitamin—has been shown to improve arterial flexibility. “That is why the medical community is now exploring K2 as MK-7 as a potential therapy for patients whose conditions present symptoms of intense calcification. Vitamin K2 as MK-7 has a substantial and growing body of evidence showing it safely and effectively simultaneously supports bone and cardiovascular health, and NattoPharma has been the driver of this research, providing our MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 as the source material.”
In terms of effects, Quackenbush points to a double-blind, randomized, intervention study of 244 postmenopausal women given either 180 mcg of Vitamin K2 as MK-7 (as MenaQ7 by NattoPharma) or a placebo daily for 3 years. “After 3 years of supplementation, maintenance in both bone mineral content and bone mineral density were statistically significant in the MenaQ7 group, as well as statistically improved bone strength. This study was published in Osteoporosis International in March 2013.” And cardiovascular? “Results confirmed that MenaQ7 not only inhibited age-related stiffening of the artery walls, but also made a statistically significant improvement in vascular elasticity. This groundbreaking study was published in Thrombosis and Haemostasis in May 2015.”
Mulberry Leaf offers another natural, proven effective alternative for assisting in reducing arterial plaque, as well as stabilizing blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol, says M. Moriah Mor, Owner, CEO, GreenSilk LLC. The company offers GreenSilk Formula #1, which Mor says features mulberry leaf extract to support healthy blood sugar management, as well as to help lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation while strengthening blood vessel membranes. Additional benefits of the formula, according to Mor: It contains milk thistle (to support healthy liver function), capsaicin (an anti-inflammatory), safflower (for better circulatory health), and more.
The benefits of controlling blood sugar (at every age) are plenty: “A high insulin level as well as a high blood glucose level are the first signs of an adverse health condition,” Mor notes. ”As insulin levels increase, it leads to an increase in appetite, weight gain, inflammation and oxidative stress combined with a myriad downstream effects including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low HDL, high triglycerides, thickening of the blood, and increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.” Mor adds that details on research on the medicinal plants used in GreenSilk Formula #1 can be found at www.greensilk.com.
Giving Libido a Boost, + More
Keeping the spice in life in a top desire for many. New options that can help: Bluebonnet’s Intimate Essentials for Him Vegetable Capsules are formulated to boost testosterone and libido with sustainably harvested, or wildcrafted botanical extracts, including tribulus, saw palmetto, and eurycoma longifolia, also known as Longjack (LJ 100), which is a patented and clinically proven extract of Tongkat Ali from Malaysia, Sugarek MacDonald says. The formula also contains zinc, boron, and a purified shilajit from the Himalayas (PrimaVie) to promote the natural production of testosterone. And L-arginine is included to improve blood flow for heightened sexual virility and stamina. (For more on Men’s Health, read 5 Picks to Boost Male Performance.)
For women, Bluebonnet’s Intimate Essentials for Her is also formulated with sustainably harvested or wildcrafted botanical extracts—damiana and lemon balm leaves and gelatinized yellow maca, ashwagandha, and rhodiola rosea roots prepare a woman’s body and mind to respond more effectively to sexual cues and arousal, as well as stimulate sexual chemistry and intensify sexual desire, says Sugarek MacDonald. “While adaptogenic herbs like yellow maca, rhodiola rosea, and lemon balm help the body revitalize and cope with emotional, psychological, and physical stress that can contribute to female sexual dysfunction, damiana provides comfort during intercourse by providing lubrication. Since estrogen levels decrease as women age, there is a decreased blood flow to the pelvic region, resulting in less genital sensation, which is why L-arginine was incorporated to improve blood flow to this erogenous zone for heightened arousal and orgasm.”
The company also offers Bluebonnet’s Intimate Essentials for Her Hormonal Balance Vegetable Capsules, formulated to manage and stabilize hormones that influence sexual desire during PMS and menopause black cohosh, vitex berry, DIM, dandelion root, and L-theanine. “This formula not only improves the quality of life for women of all ages by maintaining overall hormonal balance, energy, and vitality,” says Sugarek MacDonald, “it also helps them enjoy active sexual lives at every life stage by supporting healthy estrogen metabolism.”
And for men and women, Naturex offers Flowens, a patented natural formula for urinary health made from a full-spectrum cranberry blend. It has been clinically shown to improve lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men at daily doses of 250mg and 500mg; another clinical study for women showed improvement in overactive bladder (OAB) symptom at a daily dose of 500mg. “The likelihood of being affected by urinary symptoms greatly increases as we get older,” says Dan Souza, Global Product Manager at Naturex. “In fact, for many, suffering from bladder symptoms is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Flowens is a natural, clean-label solution for urinary symptoms that could improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.”
IFF also specializes in this area. “Urinary incontinence is very high on the list of health issues for seniors,” Li says. “Our Go-Less (pumpkin seed and soy germ extract) supports normal and healthy bladder control which leads to lower frequency of urination, nocturia, and urgency. We recently launched Go-Less Men as a soy-free version which, unlike many products on the market, is defatted to prevent degradation. These benefits are all shown to contribute to an increased quality of life.”
And to provide even more comprehensive benefits for the aging population, Li says, IFF Health also has various grades of soy germ isoflavones (including organic) under the SoyLife line for women. “These have benefits from alleviating menopausal symptoms to supporting bone and cardiovascular health. For men, we have LinumLife, which are flaxseed lignans and one of the major classes of phytoestrogens to support prostate health, balanced hormone levels, and reducing the appearance of hair loss, among other benefits. Of course, all these ingredients are backed by clinical science to support their efficacy.”
Looking at the trends, Li adds: “The healthy aging category will continue to grow as we’ve seen an increasing proportion of the older population. We have seen Baby Boomers, as well as those from Generation X, lag in terms of some of the technological advancements in health supplements. As a result, I expect them to start following the existing trends of nutrition personalization as well as buying more functional foods and less traditional pills and tablets. Speaking of Generation X, more from this age group will start thinking about healthy aging and start long term planning before they reach old age, especially as healthy aging becomes even more far reaching with the health indications it covers. This will blur the lines of specific categories as ingredients previously positioned for just one area will also be positioned for healthy aging.”
Not Just for Boomers: Healthy Aging Appeals to Younger Demos, Too
“Younger demographics are starting to recognize the importance of building a healthy foundation, particularly as COVID-19 has captured the globe’s attention as a primary health concern,” says Kate Quackenbush, NattoPharma. “We feel the ongoing coverage has brought to light the impact that other health conditions have on our susceptibility. For instance, NattoPharma just informed the industry about a new study linking better vitamin K status in patients with COVID-19 to improved outcomes compared to patients with poor K status. The study also demonstrates a link to COVID-19 patients that had other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, which are linked to low vitamin K status, including a breakdown of tissue fibers as measured by elastin, which is involved with pulmonary disease (10).
While older consumers are generally more concerned about brain health, the younger generation is becoming interested in products that help promote greater mental focus and acuity and contribute to healthy aging, says Shoji Matsukawa of Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America. “With more millennials trying to balance a busy work-life schedule, relationships and coping with health issues and other socioeconomic factors, supplement ingredients are proving that they can provide the necessary boost to complement their hectic lifestyle. In one study (Nakano, et al., 2012), BioPQQ revealed it may have positive effects on stress, fatigue and sleep, all important markers that can impact overall health as one ages. The results demonstrated that all six measures of vigor, fatigue, tension-anxiety, depression, anger-hostility and confusion improved significantly after the test subjects took 20 mg of BioPQQ daily for eight weeks. In addition, measures for quality of life, appetite, sleep, obsession and pain also improved considerably among both male and female subjects during this same time period.”
Interest from younger demographics is rising in relation to the focus on mobility as a core indicator of health and function in aging, adds Tim Hammond of Bergstrom Nutrition. “No matter our age, we all want to maintain our quality of life. Since mobility affects how we perform essential tasks necessary for independence—a spectrum of actions, including preventative and rehabilitative interventions—are being considered to optimize mobility maintenance at all ages. Younger people are beginning to understand how supplementing with science-based products to support joint function and healthy movement can be a crucial component of remaining active and independent well into their senior years.”
Strategies for Educating and Selling
Consumers need to take a multifaceted approach to healthy aging, says Sugarek MacDonald. This, she says, involves maintaining:
- Healthy diet & exercise or daily wellness
- Healthy mind: “From depression to dementia, several mental health issues become a larger risk as you age,” she says. “So retailers could communicate ways to eliminate stress and to take time each day to focus on mental well-being. They could populate a Healthy Aging section on Maintaining a Healthy Mindby featuring products from different product categories that help reduce stress and anxiety and enhance cognitive function, for example.”
- healthy appearance
- healthy intimacy
“That said,” Sugarek MacDonald suggests, “since aging baby boomers are such a large demographic with a lot of purchasing power, retailers should put together a quarterly healthy aging program that focuses on each one of these subjects above and promotes healthy aging products relevant to those subjects across product categories.” Create a section or endcap that is attractive, interactive, and informative for men and women, she advises. “Cross merchandise ‘healthy aging’ products per subject in a special section or on an end cap combining grocery, dietary supplements, body care, and packaged foods. For example, with grocery and body care items that help boost libido, you can incorporate the following Bluebonnet supplements into a Healthy Aging section or endcap focused on Healthy Intimacy with eye-catching signage that talks about how you can keep things lively with your romantic partner as you age.”
Take care, though, to avoid too much product redundancy. “Merchandise a selection of product on endcaps or a special ‘healthy aging or daily wellness stand or table’ as to appeal to a broad audience,” recommends Sugarek MacDonald. “Retailers can focus on three popular items across the category for overall health and wellness and then rotate monthly.”
- Natural Marketing Institute, 2018 Lonza SORD report, 2019 (unpublished)
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- Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11(1):50. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-50.
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- Ezaki J, Hashimoto M, Hosokawa Y, Ishimi Y. Assessment of safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane on bone and knee joints in osteoarthritis animal model. J Bone Miner Metab. 2013;31(1):16-25. doi:10.1007/s00774-012-0378-9.
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