Ch-Ch Changes in Senior Supplements

Blake Ebersole, President

February 9, 2012

2 Min Read
Ch-Ch Changes in Senior Supplements

“Ch-ch-ch-changes / Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older.” – David Bowie, 1971 A.D.

“All entities move and nothing stays still.”– Heraclitus, 400 B.C. 

The tides of change are upon us. While baby boomers did not invent self-care, they have helped bring “Dr. Me” to a new dimension in this brave new iWorld.  They tend to seek detailed information. They can be wary of the recommendations of physicians and marketers. And who of us, in truth, do not secretly desire to live forever? 

Needless to say, on the surface this group appears to pose challenges for supplement marketers. Yet supplements addressing the evolving needs of this demographic may see rich opportunity.  For example, branded ingredients supporting key aspects of healthy aging, particularly those which offer broad consumer access to research and technical information, may provide the edge for targeting this demographic.  

As seniors live longer, it is important to understand how their supplement use changes. For example, in the VITAL study, use of high doses of vitamin and mineral supplements increased with age in both genders – until a certain age. The number of daily supplements taken also increased to a certain age – but in men only. Subsequent studies on supplement use reveal some key trends, including women (regardless of age) driving supplement use in both genders.

Rapid advances in science and medicine are telling us that the underlying problems of aging occur much earlier than we thought. This could prove to actually expand the "seniors" market into a younger age group. Because really, it’s not that certain dietary components may help to support healthy aging -- it’s that we now have the sensitivity and specificity to measure the benefits quantitatively, and separate the signal from the noise that is the bane of good clinical study design. For example, brain imaging of age-related markers such as amyloid-beta is a powerful tool that can complement or replace traditional cognitive instruments, and help us better detect meaningful dose-related changes. 

Likewise, improvements in scientific capabilities will also help us understand how supplements can benefit those reaching the older end of the senior spectrum. Teasing a signal from the noise in advanced-age subjects may simply require better methods that can detect more subtle changes in health. Advances in electronic data management and informed study design in large, longitudinal studies in older populations should also positively impact study outcomes and the granularity of data, and help us better understand both the positive and negative results of the research.

Essentially, better science and a solid understanding of consumer needs will mean better products get to the people who benefit from them.  The “seniors” market is no exception.   Because pretty soon we are all gonna get a little bit older.      

About the Author(s)

Blake Ebersole

President, NaturPro Scientific

Blake Ebersole has led several botanical quality initiatives and formed collaborations with dozens of universities and research centers. As president of NaturPro Scientific, Ebersole established quality compliance and product development services for supplements and ingredients such as ID Verified™. Follow him on Twitter at @NaturalBlake.

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