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Takeaways The First 5 Years.jpg

Takeaways: The first 5 years

The first five years of a child’s life is a period of rapid physical, mental and physiological growth and development.

The first five years of a child’s life is a period of rapid physical, mental and physiological growth and development. Adequate nutrition during those first 1,000 days plays an important role in the overall health and well-being of a child throughout his or her development. Whether a brand is an established player in the children’s supplement category or looking to enter the game, it should consider these market dynamics:

Children’s nutrition needs. Nutrition can impact normal physical and neurological development, reduce susceptibility to obesity, and lower the risk of developing noncommunicable and infectious disease. Critical nutrients to ensure adequate development for infants, toddlers and young children include selenium, choline, vitamin K2 and omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), among others. Infants and toddlers especially need regular supply of EPA and DHA omega-3s to ensure proper development of the brain, eyes, immune system and central nervous system. Choline is another nutrient that is crucial during fetal development and infancy because of its significant role in brain development.

Identify whitespace. Health and nutritional challenges impacting infants and toddlers didn't happen overnight. Over the past 20 years, childhood obesity rates have ballooned to alarming proportions, setting the stage for an increased number of cases of childhood type 2 diabetes. Increased diagnoses of food allergies also are adversely affecting children’s health, resulting in insufficient intake of key nutrients. For example, kids who have dairy allergies or intolerances may not be getting enough calcium to aid in bone development. Research also has shown a high prevalence of vitamin K deficiency among infants and children which could adversely affect healthy bone development and heart health. Brands have the opportunity to formulate and market efficacious supplements that directly address these deficiencies.

Appeal to parents. Nutritional supplements for children face an extra challenge of approval by parents, many of whom are health-conscious Millennials. Products need to pass a rigorous parental approval process as today’s young parents are the most anti-synthetic generation to date. And they expect that the science has been—and will continue to be—performed to show inarguable efficacy for their kids. Brands should be mindful that Millennial parents account for 42 percent of all households with children, which means generational shifts are moving the children’s market in a new direction.

For more, download the Nutrition for the First Five Years digital magazine.

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