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Supplements at Every Life Stage

As consumers age, they are focused on different types of ingredients and health concerns, whether vitamin D for infants, energy support for adults, protein and liquid meal replacements for mature adults, or digestive health across all age demographics.

Nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Calorie and nutrient needs vary throughout the life cycle, and can increase or decrease based on age, sex, activity levels, and illness or disease. During periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy and lactation, infancy and adolescence, these needs increase. While the goal should be to meet dietary needs with foods first, many turn to supplements as additional assurance to support health goals. Through the lens of SPINS’ proprietary attribution and segmentation in supplements, data illuminate key trends in how consumers interact with evolving nutrition needs throughout the life cycle.

The health and nutrition of babies and their mothers are intimately linked. Nutrient needs during pregnancy increase slightly, but the principles of healthy eating remain the same. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 to 2020 recommend adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, dairy and healthy fats. Prenatal care and nutrition are main areas of focus for expectant mothers, with data indicating dietary supplements marketed for prenatal support showing increased sales.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplementation of 400 IU/d of vitamin D, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this nutrient during infancy for infants who are exclusively and partially breastfed. Sales of vitamin D supplements specifically marketed for babies grew substantially in the past year. In instances where parents are not able to breastfeed for the recommended 12-month duration, infant formula can offer a healthful alternative. Probiotic-enhanced formulas also grew in the past year.

Teens’ nutrient needs increase calorically, and macro and micro nutrients—especially protein, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium (plus zinc for females)—supply the body with the tools needed for growth. Children’s vitamin and minerals are a US$245.1 million segment, and supplements geared toward teens account for $14 million in sales.

While digestive health evidently holds universal appeal to all ages, age-specific marketing of these supplements is trending, with sales growth in every age group. In addition to digestive and cognitive health, SPINS' data show strong sales in other specific segments, such as energy support, bone health, eye health, joint health, pain and inflammation, cognitive health and cleanse / detox support.

For mature adults (age 50 and older) looking to stave off negative effects of the aging process, SPINS’ data reported double- and triple-digit growth in key segments for digestive and general health, as well as products geared toward weight management.

Get more specific numbers on sales numbers and growth rates on ingredients and health conditions targeted toward different age demographics in INSIDER’s Age-Related Nutrition Digital Magazine.

Jamie Phillips, MS, RDN, is the Director of Scientific Affairs at SPINS. As a Registered Dietitian, Jamie is passionate about food and nutrition and teaching people how to eat well on any budget. She enjoys working with retailers to help activate nutrition science and consumer insights.

Kimberly Kawa is a senior nutrition researcher at SPINS ( and has applied her nutrition background and passion for the Natural Products Industry to the ongoing development of the SPINS Product Library. Her focus is in vitamins and supplements, and she identifies industry trends related to these segments.




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