Developing Dietary Supplements for the Physically Active Women

February 6, 2006

5 Min Read
Developing Dietary Supplements for the Physically Active Women

Developing Dietary Supplements for the Physically Active Women

byJudi Quilici-Timmcke, M.S.

There is a market opportunity in developingdietary supplements for physically active women who may be avid joggers,swimmers or skiers, or who take numerous aerobic or spinning classes a week. These women may or may not compete professionally in sportsbut, either way, with the amount of physical work they are performing, they needmore calories and nutrients than the average woman.

There are different needs for the young woman who is activeand menstruating compared to older women. It has been demonstrated that the twomost important nutrients for menstruating women athletes are calcium and iron,whereas older woman athletes still have calcium needs, but iron may not be anissue if she is not menstruating. A product line developed for both of these agegroups may include a high powered multiple vitamin/mineral, pre-workout product,beverages to supply fluid and electrolytes and a recovery product.

A woman athlete needs a high-powered multiple vitamin/mineralmade especially to meet her physical needs. Consider that many of these womenparticipate in strenuous workouts, but may also reduce daily calories to reduceweight and increase lean muscle mass. Although male athletes have been shown toconsume greater than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins andminerals, female athletes have been shown to only ingest 60 percent to 65percent of the RDA.

By reducing daily caloric intake, female athletes are reducingtheir intake of vitamins, minerals and protein from food, which may causedeficiencies and reduce bone density. A superior vitamin/mineral is necessarywith as many bioavailable forms of minerals as possible. Calcium forms that have been shown to be bioavailable arebisglycinocalcium, calcium citrate malate and calcium citrate. Other importantbone-health nutrients for a multi include magnesium, zinc, boron, manganese, andvitamins D and K.

Another reason for developing a substantial vitamin/mineralmulti is to assist the many women who train and/or compete at high intensitylevels and who experience hormonal imbalances. Although these women areconstantly trying to maintain a lean body, they jeopardize their health andperformance by overlooking this condition. Athletic amenorrheaabsence of the menstrual period for along period of timeis one of the conditions observed in women runners,bicyclists, gymnasts, dancers and body builders. The causes may be reduced bodyfat stores, rapid weight loss, poor eating habit, stress or the sudden onset ofexercise. It is seen in more women athletes who are vegetarians. Amenorrhea ispreceded by low circulating estrogen levels, which cause a calcium imbalanceleading to reduced bone density and osteoporosis. This condition may alsoincrease cardiovascular disease risk. The condition has actually been named femaleathlete triad, referring to women who have problems with an eating disorder,amenorrhea and osteoporosis. It poses a serious health threat in the UnitedStates, and presents an opportunity to develop products to benefit the health ofthese women. According to the American Dietetic Association, these women shouldincrease calories (including fat consumption), reduce fiber intake and reduceintensive training.

A multiple vitamin/mineral with a bioavailable form of ironmay also improve womens physical and mental performance. Iron is involved indelivering oxygen to the tissues, including the brain and muscles, and helps toproduce energy at the cell level. Iron deficiency causes athletes to easilyfatigue and compromises their physical performance is compromised. During thereproductive years, women have a greater need for iron; reduced iron storesincrease muscle fatigue and reduce endurance.

Taste and color of iron products cause various productformulation problems and reduce customer compliance. The bioavailability andnegative consequences of some iron chelates on the gastrointestinal tract mayalso cause customer dissatisfaction; therefore, it is key to find iron formsthat provide a high quality product, even if there is slightly higher cost.Among the well-researched, higher-quality iron forms products such asSunActive® Iron (from Taiyo) or Ferrochel® iron chelate (from Albion AdvancedNutrition).

Supplemental Products

There are many types of athletic bars, powders and drinkspositioned for men, but what about products for physically active women?Pre-workout products provide the quick carbohydrates needed for high intenseworkouts at the gym, club, outdoors or wherever they train.

Sport beverages marketed for women should restore fluid andelectrolytes to replenish electrolytes and fluid. Sport snack products for thewoman athlete may supply a quality source of protein to help maintain bloodsugar, provide energy and help build and repair tissues. This is also anopportunity for the product formulator to add calcium into the female athletesdiet.

Recovery products are also necessary for women to extinguishfree radicals produced during high intensity workouts. Free radicals causedamage and inflammation to muscle tissue. These recovery products may supplyantioxidants and restore carbohydrates to the body and increase glycogen storagein the muscles depleted from physical loads.

High protein powder, chips, bars or other snacks provideenergy, build and repair tissue after high intensity workouts, and could providecalcium and isoflavones to support bone density and hormone balance. Soy proteinwith isoflavones as a foundation for a highpowered energy product would be agreat addition to this line of products. Soy provides a good source of proteinand calcium, and its isoflavone content may promote better hormone balance forwomen with low estrogen levels. Recovery products can replace depleted glycogenstores, supply protein and individual amino acids with added nutrients such asATP, coenzyme Q10 and other antioxidants.

Developing products for physically active women is potentiallyprofitable for companies and can open up a new market for their business bymaking available products for the critical needs of both the young and olderwoman athlete.

Judi Quilici-Timmcke is the president of Q-Tech Services Inc.,providing consulting and product formulation services for companies in thedietary supplement industry. She was previously vice president of research anddevelopment for Weider Nutritions specialty market, and the head of productdevelopment for Rexall Showcase International. Quilici-Timmcke holds a mastersdegree in dietetics and exercise physiology.

Critical Ingredients

Key ingredients to consider in development of products forphysically active women include:

  • L-carnitine

  • L-glutamine

  • Coenzyme Q10

  • ATP

  • Soy protein with isoflavones

  • Calcium

  • Iron

  • Ipriflavone

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