6 ingredients that power proactive women’s supplement products

Market segments with the greatest potential for growth include products targeting menopause, metabolic health, restful sleep and stress reduction.

October 16, 2023

6 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Priority on mental health.
  • Peri-, meno- and post-menopause solutions sought.
  • Discover the ingredients to power formulations.

By June Lin

Women’s health is a growing consumer segment with a range of biological needs that evolve throughout women’s life stages, from adolescence to adulthood. Women are striving to improve their general health and wellness to stay as active, healthy and confident as long as possible and to facilitate healthy aging in the long term. They’re taking a proactive and holistic approach to their wellness that supports physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. A lifestyle of healthy habits begins with balanced nutrition and personalized solutions that account for different needs as women age.

Living for Longevity

More than 70% of women globally say they are taking a long-term approach to health, with their top three concerns being general wellness, immune function and digestive health. While 54% of female consumers surveyed said they are exercising more to improve their health, 70% are focusing on improving their dietary habits. Some of these proactive steps include limiting snacks, as well as reducing sugar intake and adding protein, vitamins and minerals to their diet.

Proper nutrition can also support women’s health during and after pregnancy. Some mothers may even seek a boost beyond basic nutrition with the help of prenatal vitamins or functional foods. Notably, 76% of expectant mothers surveyed said they want to maintain a healthy diet through pregnancy, and 71% of women look to improve their post-pregnancy health through a healthy diet.

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Consumers frequently look to foods and beverages for healthy nutrients, although dietary supplements are increasingly popular. Globally, 58% of women increased their use of dietary supplements during 2022. Further market research shows that the global B2C dietary supplements sector for women’s health has a 2.6% CAGR from 2022-2025 and is forecasted to reach $2.7 billion in 2025.

No matter the format, shoppers’ top priorities are taste, convenience and enjoyment. From citrus fruits high in vitamin C to yogurts with gut-friendly probiotics to daily calcium chews, women are finding a variety of health-forward products to meet their wellness needs.

Priority on mental health

Quality of life is linked to mental well-being. With increasingly prevalent feelings of stress, worry and uncertainty, many people are concerned about negative effects on their mood, weight, sleep patterns, sex lives, attention spans, interpersonal relationships and more. Nearly three out of five women (59%) surveyed say concerns about aging impact their mental or cognitive health. This may be related to the body’s natural decline as one ages, increasing risk and vulnerability to health issues.

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Aging women may have additional concerns as their bodies cycle through the stages of menopause.

  • Perimenopause commonly occurs in the 40s and experiences may include irregular periods, weight gain, mood swings, sleep issues and more. Perimenopause can occur months or even years before menopause begins.

  • Menopause usually occurs between ages 45 and 55, marked by 12 consecutive months without menstruation due to lower hormone levels.

  • Post-menopause is defined as the last menstruation being one year or more ago.

The symptoms associated with these stages can have a significant impact on women’s daily lives. For instance, mood swings are quite common. Mood swings reportedly affect 67% of women globally during premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopause, 71% of women during menopause and 54% of women during post-menopause. Women are also highly likely to experience trouble falling or staying asleep in this phase of life, particularly during perimenopause (45%) and post-menopause (39%). When sleep quality is compromised, people may experience drowsiness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, greater stress levels, irritability, insomnia and other physical or mental health issues. Hot flashes and weight changes are also common experiences for women during menopause.

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Women of all ages are understandably focused on supporting well-being. Globally, 49% of female consumers are trying to get more rest, and 52% say they are taking steps to better their dietary habits as a way to support their mental well-being. Increasing nutrient intake may be perceived as a way to support well-being. Specifically, folic acids like L-methylfolate and probiotics are recommended for pregnant women. Consumer research also finds women perceive that protein, calcium and magnesium could support their transition through menopause. Increasing dietary fiber intake is beneficial for everyone, especially for women as they look for solutions to address potential weight gain during menopause. According to ADM research, fiber is the number one ingredient consumers most want to add to their diets for reasons like digestion, weight management and satiety.

Nutritional Solutions for Well-being

When asked how they are improving their diets, 72% of global women surveyed say they are eating more fruits and vegetables. These foods are seen as a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Brands can emphasize the nutritious ingredients in their products to increase awareness of potential health benefits and appeal to the proactive consumer.

Added protein is also beneficial in supporting women’s long-term health, and plant protein inclusion is specifically of interest. For example, soy is a nutritionally complete plant protein, with a protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of 1, just like animal-based proteins. Soy blends well with other proteins like pea and wheat, delivering the best aspects of each while increasing nutritional value beyond what a single protein can provide. Moreover, combining multiple proteins increases levels of amino acids such as BCAAs and EAAs.

Plant estrogens like soy isoflavones are considered selective estrogen receptor modulators, which have specifically demonstrated benefits for women experiencing menopause, such as reducing hot flashes and maintaining bone health. Some research suggests soy isoflavones may also play a role in skin health and how arteries function. Soy isoflavones are suitable for use in dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages.

Another area of focus is support for the microbiome. In fact, 76% of global consumers recognize the link between gut health and overall well-being. Decades of clinical trials show evidence of how specific prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics can target various aspects of women’s wellness, including digestive health, immune function and metabolic health. Notably, many prenatal vitamin products are starting to incorporate microbiome-supporting solutions to uphold women’s holistic health during pregnancy.

Products that target women’s health may include one or more of these helpful ingredients. Nutrition bars, drinkable yogurts, gummies, cookies, puffed snacks, energy drinks and frozen treats are just a few food and beverage applications where nutrition and sensory appeal are complementary elements. Indulgent yet functional low-sugar chocolate squares with postbiotics, soy isoflavones, fiber, vitamins and/or botanical extracts are also becoming a popular format to deliver better-for-you benefits.

People may believe that eating healthier is easier to implement into a daily routine than exercise, with more immediate and direct results. However, the traditional framework of a “healthy diet” usually focuses on reducing intake of certain food groups. It will be important to increase awareness of the foods, drinks and supplements that offer nutritional support to empower women in all phases of life.

Market segments with the greatest potential for growth include products targeting menopause, metabolic health, restful sleep and stress reduction. Brands in the food, beverage and dietary supplement sectors can lean into these opportunities by working with a global partner that has a vast ingredient portfolio and technical expertise to create innovative, science-backed balanced wellness offerings that satisfy cravings and address women’s evolving wellness needs.

June Lin is Global Vice President of Marketing, Health & Wellness, ADM (she/her)

For a deep dive into the women’s supplement sector—from nutrition science to the importance of including more women in research studies—download the free Natural Products Insider digital magazine here.

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