Bone and joint health: Consumer demands and promising ingredients

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19 Apr 2018 --- Mobility, which incorporates bone and joint health, is becoming a key concern for a range of demographics. NutritionInsight spoke with a number of key suppliers in the bone and joint health space about the key ingredients to look out for, as well as some key consumer demands driving innovation in this space.

Key market drivers
World populations are getting older and with age the risk of bone and joint health issues – such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis – increases. 

“Bone and joint health is a key concern for consumers. A recent DSM study involving 7,500 consumers across ten countries found that 55 percent of the global population have expressed it as a worry. Understandably, bone and joint health is the main concern for mature adults, aged over 51 years, with 54 percent of respondents putting it at the top of their list,” says Dr. Igor Bendik-Falconnier, Senior Scientist Human Nutrition & Health, DSM Nutritional Products.

However, bone and joint health concerns do not just affect seniors. “It also has an impact on younger consumers, such as so-called ‘weekend warriors,’ who exercise once or twice a week. As this group leads busier, more active lifestyles, a bone and joint health positioning is also adding value to sports and performance nutrition products. Fitness enthusiasts are often already supplement users and this demographic is therefore primed to consider bone and joint support earlier in life, particularly as regular wear and tear starts to take its toll,” says Dr. Bendik-Falconnier.

On the topic of bone and joint health, suppliers are seeing a demand for clean label and natural solutions, as well as solutions that have preventative benefits.

“We have seen a shift away from chemical, synthetic drug treatments towards a more natural, holistic and preventative approach when it comes to health and wellness in general, including maintaining structural health. Botanicals, for instance, are attracting renewed attention, as consumers go back to basics with natural options,” says Lisette van Lith, Global Director at Peptan.

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Innova Market Insights

Although almost a third of consumers already take dietary supplements to keep their bones (32 percent) or joints (28 percent) healthy, purchasing behavior is generally for relief products when they are already suffering from a complaint, a 2017 DSM study found. 

“As more people adopt healthier, more active lifestyles, the market looks set to focus on prevention, rather than treatment. Increasing numbers of consumers are realizing that strengthening bone and joint health from an early age could help to reduce complications later in life,” Dr. Bendik-Falconnier notes.

“In terms of applications, capsules are a firm favorite amongst many bone and joint health manufacturers, as they enable the safe and secure containment of a wide range of ingredients including powders, liquids and semi-solids. Such dosage forms are a popular choice with consumers too, with almost half of shoppers preferring food supplements in a capsule form,” says Juliana Erickson, Marketing Director, Consumer Health & Nutrition at Lonza.

In a survey conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) and commissioned by Capsugel, now part of Lonza, convenience was high on the list for many buyers when surveyed on the most important attributes of supplement products. Indeed, 83 percent of consumers stated that they look for products which are easily digestible, and 76 percent preferred supplements that are easy to swallow, Erickson states.

New ingredients gaining popularity 
“There are several emerging ingredients, such as herbals and beetroot, that are showing promise in the bone/muscle and joint health market,” says Dr. Bendik-Falconnier. “However, it is the more established ingredients like vitamin D that are really gaining momentum, as the topic of healthy aging takes center stage. Studies show that vitamin D is crucial in maintaining bone health in later years, particularly when taken together with calcium and could help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin K is also showing great potential for bone health specifically, and the European Commission has authorized that vitamin K contributes to the maintenance of normal bone.” 

Eric Anderson, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Business Development with NattoPharma, similarly highlights the potential for vitamin K, and vitamin K2 in particular, within the bone and joint health space. “Vitamin K, specifically menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is a necessary companion ingredient to calcium and vitamin D for the preservation of bone health, supporting the desired rate of bone turnover,” Anderson notes. 

Adding K2 to bone-health formulas has been found to simultaneously ensure that calcium is prevented from being deposited into cardiovascular arteries, which, over time, can cause them to stiffen. This can ultimately contribute to increased cardiovascular risks.

“This is important because women (and men, too) specifically do not yet realize how much calcium they are likely consuming:  calcium is not only abundant in dietary supplements, but naturally occurring in healthy diets, and is added to many foods,” Anderson notes. 

“A typical daily calcium tally of a healthy diet including supplementation can show an overabundance of the mineral. At the same time, our bodies do not produce calcium on their own, so it is important to make sure we are getting it through diet or supplementation to ensure multiple systems in the body are supported (including bone health),” Anderson notes. He adds that pairing calcium with vitamin K2 as MK-7 is key to ensuring that calcium is safely delivered to bones where it is needed, instead of the arteries and blood vessels. 

Also within the mobility space, collagen peptides are gaining interest. 

Already known to support joint and bone health, collagen peptides are expected to become an even bigger trend in 2018 and beyond. Collagen is already popular in the beauty industry for its skin benefits, and consumers are now becoming more aware of its potential for sports nutrition, healthy aging, bone and joint health, experts note.

“The latest NBJ Supplement Business Report estimates that collagen sales went up 7.2 percent over 2016-2017 reaching US$1.1 billion in 2017, with projected fast-growing sales in 2018. Consumers are increasingly looking for preventative health supplements, whether it is to support their active lifestyles or healthy aging. Collagen plays a vital role in a healthy musculoskeletal system and products such as collagen peptides, have therefore become widely favored by consumers for their multiple holistic benefits,” says van Lith.

“Looking at the joint health market specifically, consumers are increasingly turning to products and ingredients that can support in reducing the effects of aging, to help them maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. When we get older, our natural ability to produce collagen slows down, leading to joint discomfort. As such, Lonza’s UC-II undenatured type II collagen is particularly gaining traction in the joint health arena, where multiple clinical studies have shown it be more effective at maintaining optimal joint function than traditional ingredients, such as glucosamine and chondroitin,” according to Erickson.

In one study, 186 people with osteoarthritis of the knee took either 40 mg of UC-II cartilage containing undenatured type II collagen, a combination of 1,500 mg of glucosamine + 1,200mg chondroitin or a placebo for 180 days. Compared to the placebo and glucosamine + chondroitin combination, the UC-II brand significantly improved joint function, mobility and flexibility when results were measured using three different assessment tools: WOMAC, VAS and the Lequesne functional index. 

Click to Enlarge“We have seen many innovative new product developments recently containing collagen, such as nutrition bars, a variety of RTD or instant drink powders. While the popularity of collagen will keep growing, consumers demand more enticing and innovative product formats and formulation to incorporate supplements into their daily diets. Collagen peptides have a neutral taste profile, therefore can easily be integrated in all kinds of functional food and drinks, from dairy to fortified gummies,” van Lith notes.

The latest addition to the Peptan range, Peptan IIm, for instance, is an all-round hydrolyzed collagen type II matrix, containing both type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans in one single ingredient. It is specifically designed to boost joint health and is suitable to be used in pills and capsules due to its low daily dosage.

Scientific backing is key
“The segment presents a viable opportunity for the nutraceutical industry. The challenge will be that the bone and joint health landscape is so competitive, meaning manufacturers need to look at trending ingredient combinations to provide a point of differentiation,” says Dr. Igor Bendik-Falconnier.

“Consumers are taking a holistic view of their health and favoring products with numerous benefits, often as part of a presentation-led approach. This, in turn, is leading manufacturers to adopt innovative dosage forms which enable the effective delivery of multiple ingredients for optimal health benefits. Delayed release and improved bioavailability of ingredients are other key challenges facing the industry, which are driving supplement producers to seek solutions to formulation challenges,” Erickson adds.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware and educated on ingredients and their benefits, prompting growing demand across the industry for manufacturers to create products which are backed by substantial scientific evidence. 

“This may present a challenge, but also an opportunity, for many ingredient suppliers, as they invest more time and resources into formally proving their products’ health benefits,” Erickson concludes.

By Lucy Gunn

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