Menopause, premenstrual syndrome, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and even childbirth used to be the “don’t ask, don’t tell” aspect of women’s health. But the sexual revolution not only lured cramps, hot flashes and C-sections out of the closet, they spurred major clinical trials into natural—and not so natural—ingredients for these conditions.
We all know that many menopausal women gave hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) its marching orders when the National Institutes of Health stopped its study of HRT in 2002 after synthetic estrogen and progesterone were linked to elevated risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer. HRT has continued its steady downswing—the North American Menopause Society reports that estrogen-progesterone prescriptions dipped from 7.5 million in 2006 to 5.3 million in 2010.
Meanwhile, sales of top natural menopause ingredients like soy isoflavones and black cohosh have increased.The numbers are even more compelling for pregnancy support, with omega-3 products and vitamins showing healthy growth. Here’s a look at some of the newest and best-selling ingredients for other common women’s health conditions.
A cranberry a day
Women have long known that swigging cranberry juice can quell UTIs. Now, science backs up this folk wisdom. Decas Botanical Synergies’ PACran, which is standardized to 1.5 cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs), has been the subject of two human clinical trials. One, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, analyzed women age 18 to 60 who took 500 mg of PACran daily for six months, or a placebo. The UTI recurrence rate for the PACran group was 15 percent, compared to 30 percent for the placebo group.
Previous research found that the PACs in cranberries fight UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to uroepithelial (urinary tract) cells.This scientific evidence has translated into solid sales for PACran, which is in the number-one pharmacy-recommended brand AZO Cranberry, says Decas’ Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Dan Souza.
Krill trumps fish oil
A couple of studies have found that fish oil (2 grams of EPA and DHA daily for two months) can reduce PMS-related moodiness and pain. But a Swedish study of 70 women found that 2 grams of krill oil daily for three months significantly reduced physical and mental symptoms associated with PMS, whereas fish oil only lowered some of the symptoms.
Krill—tiny shrimp-like creatures that thrive near Antarctica—continue to make a splash in the omega-3 pool thanks to the unique structure of the active ingredient. The omega-3 in krill oil is mainly in phospholipid form, compared to the triglyceride form found in fish oil. A recent randomized, double-blind study analyzed the effect of fish oil, krill oil and olive oil on 76 overweight and obese men and women. Researchers found that subjects who took 2 grams a day of Aker BioMarine’s Superba krill oil for four weeks had a 24 percent greater amount of EPA and DHA in their blood than those who took a similar dose of fish oil. The conclusion: Krill oil has more bioavailability than fish oil.
To allay concerns over the sustainability of krill harvesting, Aker BioMarine has developed a patented Eco-Harvesting system of nets and trawls that capture krill without ensnaring fish, birds and marine animals. Aker is also a founding member of the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies. Add to that the difficulty of catching krill in such inhospitable environs and the expense of the specialized handling equipment necessary (krill spoil quickly when taken from the water) and the krill haul is set to be sustainable for years to come, says Aker Vice President of Sales and Marketing Eric Anderson.
Functional ingredients for women's health
Novasoy ®Soy Isoflavones
AGD Nutrition, LLC
Superba Krill Oil
Superba Krill Oil’s phospholipid omega-3s have been shown to help support the emotional and physical changes associated with menstruation and hormonal balance. Krill phospholipids are the most bio-efficient source for EPA and DHA delivering more of these Essential Fatty Acids to the cells and tissues.
Issaquah, Washington, USA
Decas Botanical Synergies, LLC
Lallemand Health Ingredients
PACran® Whole Cranberry Powder, Cysbiotic® - combination of cranberry and probiotics
Significant amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and amino acids. Maca has been reported to help with restoring strength, stamina, and sex drive, and even aiding in the effects of menopausal cramps.
Elmwood Park, New Jersey, USA
Ocean Spray Ingredient Technology Group
Sweetened Dried Cranberries (SDCs), concentrate, puree
OmniActive Health Technologies
Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc.
Made from the whole cranberry, through a proprietary process, making it powerful enough to be effective with just one capsule per day. It is the only cranberry supplement made using the patented Bio-Shield® technology that protects the cranberry from destruction by gastric acid in the stomach.
Kearny, New Jersey, USA
Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc
San Francisco Herb & Natural Food
Gingko biloba, gotu kola, milk thistle seed, Black Cohosh
Ginkgo biloba (24% ginkgoflavoneglycosides, 6% terpine lactones), gotu kola (10% triterpenes), milk thistle seed (minimum 80-85% silymarin), black cohosh (2.5% triterepene glycosides and ashwagandha (1% alkaloids & 1.5% withanaloids) – combined with the following whole herbs: dandelion root, blessed thistle, slippery elm bark, fennel seed, psyllium seed and artichoke. Item #B996, 100 vegetarian capsules.
Fremont, California, USA
UAS Laboratories, Inc.
DDS® Probiotic Blend 005
A patent-pending formula combining Lactobacillus acidophilusDDS® 1 superstrain, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactisand FOS at a potency of 5 billion CFU/g and cranberry fruit extract and natural D-mannose. Blend 005 helps maintain digestive health, healthy immune function and urinary tract health.
Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA
XSTO Solutions, LLC
A patented preparation of DHA from Brudy Technology. DHA is a critically important Omega 3 fatty acid for prenatal care and nursing mothers. Human studies support superior bioavailability of Algatrium’s novel “SN2” or second position DHA structure. Algatrium provides anti-oxidant characteristics and a unique consumable SN2 human-like DHA.
Morristown New Jersey, USA