According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition 2017 Survey on Dietary Supplements, 50 percent of women reported taking dietary supplements and cross-sectional studies in Europe confirm dietary supplement users are more likely to be women: 22.9 percent of those women were consistent supplement users, while a further 47 percent were inconsistent users. Depending on their age, women’s needs vary greatly, and with such a wide range of changing health concerns across the lifespan, female supplement users are moving away from traditional multivitamin formats—women are choosing multiple, single-ingredient supplements to create their own personalised ‘wellness formulas’.
Choosing personalised supplement regimes is indicative of the rise in clean label and free-from; consumers, especially well-informed and invested women, are looking to avoid unnecessary or unnatural ingredients, and choosing the ‘cleanest’ products to include in their lifestyles. Functional foods and beverages with the fewest ingredients and added functionality will resonate most with millennial women in particular. Data in the British Journal of Nutrition found educated women were the most likely to take dietary supplements, and this sector is the most likely to show consistent use, highlighting the importance of tailoring products to the life stages. As consumer education increases, women are taking note of the need to prevent later-life conditions including osteoporosis and skin ageing and are turning to dietary supplements throughout their lives. Younger women understand the need for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D to support bone mass development and cardiovascular health; while women reaching menopause realise the need to maintain bone mass and heart health and choose vitamin K2 to prevent bone density loss.
It is important to also consider women’s health needs during pregnancy. As millennial women enter their ‘peak reproductive years’, the desire for clean label products increases, and supplements with enhanced delivery formats are popular. Research shows omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy could help reduce the incidence of food allergies in infants, while mothers who use probiotic supplements had a 22 percent reduction in the risk of eczema in their children. Manufacturers of prenatal products need to be aware there is no EU wide definition of ‘prenatal nutrition’ and nutritional recommendations differ at national level.
Data suggests women influence 70 to 80 percent of all household spending, while mothers are particularly discerning consumers and evaluate product labels most carefully. Today’s female supplement user is proactive in seeking information and is increasingly educated on an ingredient’s health benefits.
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