If you think bone health is not sexy dinner conversation, just wait until you break one. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 15 percent of all women will break a bone in their lifetime. And the risk of breaking a bone increases dramatically as one ages, from 3 in 1,000 at age 55 to 45 in 1,000 at age 75, and that is a major health risk for post-menopausal women. All signs indicate that bone health will continue its climb up the popularity ladder as the U.S. population ages and lives longer.
What’s an aging body to do? According to an article published by IFT (Institute of Food Technologists), eight in 10 consumers believe that functional foods can help keep aging bones healthy. The article also states that adults are most concerned with continuing activity while aging, followed closely by a short list that includes bone health/strength. Companies like AIDP, maker of patented calcium-collagen ingredient KoACT®, which was the focus of a clinical trial just published (ahead of print) in The Journal of Medicinal Foods, are counting on bone health being at the forefront of consumer and practitioner concerns in the coming year. They are preparing by ramping up formulations for finished product manufacturers ranging from supplements to ingredients for foods and beverages.
There are several recurring themes that suggest trends in supplements for bone health support are developing in what was a declining category:
1. Give ’em what they want. Consumer confusion over what a bone health supplement delivers will grow as companies scramble to revive the declining category and baby boomers continue to age. There will be more products, with more claims, but many without gold-standard science. Companies that figure out how to connect with consumers, providing the information they want, when they want it, will win.
2. Got Milk? Really? In a jaw-dropping editorial in the Oct. 28 issue of the The British Medical Journal, researchers warned that three glasses of milk a day might not be the best nutritional advice for women. Most women will continue to believe that milk or calcium from dairy or foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D provide the best support for bone health.
3. Money talks. Consumers with higher education and disposable incomes will increase their interest in bone health as they assume a greater role for their health, the health of their families and aging parents.
4. Science rules. Companies that have invested in gold-standard science, such as human clinical trials in peer-reviewed medical journals, will have to ramp up consumer information in order to float above the sea of misinformation.
5. No RCT? No dice. Randomized controlled studies, conducted by world-class researchers often at prestigious universities are worth their weight in gold. This science is one of the most powerful tools to help companies differentiate themselves from the competition.
On the forefront of those advances is AIDP and its KoACT ingredient. Jennifer Gu, AIDP’s vice president of research and development, said, “The threat to bone is real. Women get it but are confused by conflicting marketing claims. At AIDP we use the best science to provide the best solutions for our customers. Once women understand the new information, that KoACT is better as science has proven, they will demand it in many more products.”