Vitafoods Insights is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Ingredients to support healthy ageing

Article-Ingredients to support healthy ageing

© iStock/Jovanmandic man-and-boy-walking-fields-iStock-Jovanmandic-1181365259.png
Certain scientifically backed ingredients can support healthy ageing. With consumers increasingly adopting proactive approaches to getting older, brands can seize opportunities to create products that appeal to all generations.

During a Vitafoods Insights webinar on healthy ageing, Aagam Shah and Manfred Eggersdorfer shared their perspectives on healthy ageing, and what it means to them.

For Shah, healthy ageing is all about being proactive, rather than reactive. For Eggersdorfer, healthy ageing is all about reaching an older age, free from diseases, with your senses, cognitive function, sight, and motor functions at a level that you can enjoy life.

Aagam Shah is a junior market analyst at Innova Market Insights, an innovation partner and market intelligence partner of FMCG companies. He delivered a presentation on healthy ageing through preventative care, which covered consumer perceptions and preferences on healthy ageing and how these translate into product launches and claims being used in food, beverage, and supplement launches.

Manfred Eggersdorfer, professor for healthy ageing at the University of Groningen, focused on the window of opportunity we have to lead healthy lives.

Healthy ageing is increasingly important for younger generations

Shah started his presentation by discussing consumer preferences when it comes to ageing well. One in four consumers in Europe surveyed by Innova stated that in the past 12 months, they had taken steps to live healthier, while 35% said they sought a healthier lifestyle because they “want to age well”.

When looking from a generational point of view, Shah explained that healthy ageing is more important for Boomers and Gen X, compared with younger generations. However, when asked what age they would like to or started taking steps towards healthy ageing, Boomers and Gen X consumers said that they began from the age of 40. Gen Z, on the other hand, said that they began around 20.

“[This] shows that the importance of healthy ageing is growing among the younger generation as well, and that's why healthy ageing is becoming such an important term or such an important concept for food and beverage as well as supplement industries in the market right now,” Shah said.

Staying physically and mentally active were the top priorities for all generations.

According to consumers, protein is an important ingredient for healthy ageing

“Food and beverage launches with healthy ageing claims grew by 4% in the past five years, while healthy ageing claims and supplements grew by 6% in the past five years,” Shah continued.

When it comes to healthy ageing claims, Innova’s top claim is protein. “Protein was the highest used claim in the past five years by all food and beverage brands,” he added. “But at the same time, protein is also the most growing claim when it comes to food and beverages.”

Thirty-five percent of consumers stated that protein was the most important ingredient for them, and Shah believes protein is and will remain a very important player when it comes to healthy ageing.

According to Shah, consumers are also increasingly approaching healthy ageing proactively, rather than reactively. When asked what their major concerns were regarding physical wellbeing, consumers said the top three physical health benefits they were targeting were weight management, heart health, and bone and joint health.

 Brands are taking note, Shah explained, and not limiting themselves to one aspect of healthy ageing, but instead targeting more holistic wellbeing through their products.

Healthy lifestyle as a ‘window of opportunity’ for ageing well

Eggersdorfer started his presentation by discussing life expectancy.

He said: “We are privileged nowadays because we have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. People in the European Union can expect a life expectancy on average of 79 years for males and 84 years for females.”

But as life expectancy increases, a larger share of the increase is characterised by ill health, he explained. Non-communicable diseases are rated as the top risks for health, and people often do not reach the optimal levels of intake for essential nutrients, or they have inadequate lifestyles.

We can reduce the risk for these diseases by up to 70 to 80% with a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Scientifically backed ingredients to support healthy ageing

Eggersdorfer shared examples of how to support a healthy life. Omega-3 is important for heart health, and all cells and membranes in the body require omega-3.

Referencing a study from Havard University, Eggersdorfer explained how omega-3 intervention is encouraging for cardiovascular health. The study found that with supplementation there was a 28% risk reduction for myocardial infarction, a 28% risk reduction for coronary heart disease, and a 50% risk reduction for fatal myocardial infarction.

Eggersdorfer then turned his attention to magnesium, referencing a Dutch study that found that those who had a low intake of magnesium had a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

“An adequate intake of magnesium seems to be an important factor for lowering long-term mortality risk for myocardial infarction. [...] Remember the intake recommendation for magnesium is in the range of 300 to 500 mg [per day],” he said.

Next, Eggersdorfer discussed the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation for eye health. When it comes to modern life, exposure to blue light has increased tremendously, he explained. Mobile phones, TV screens, and laptops are all energy-rich blue light sources, and we look directly into them.

“The impact is that blue light is harmful, and this is impacting the retina and it is destroying over a long time the retina,” he added.

There is good news, he said, and that is that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation can help protect the eye from blue light damage. Eggersdorfer referenced a study that showed that supplementation over five years helped to reduce the progression of adult-related macular disease in the range of 10%.

Next up was vitamin D, which Eggersdorfer said is not only important for supporting healthy bones but has additional health benefits. He referenced a study that showed that low vitamin D status leads to a significantly higher risk of mortality.

Alongside the webinar, Vitafoods Insights has published a free-to-download report on unlocking the steps to ageing well. Download the report here.