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A New Era for Women

Women's Health Women's Health

Powerful natural products emerge for female consumers.

Non-GMO Project

The Participants Are:

• Jocelyn Bérubé, Executive Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, innoVactiv, Montreal, QC, Canada, www.innovactiv.com

• Michael Chernyak, President, CK Ingredients, Oakville, ON, Canada, www.ckingredients.com

• Dan Lifton, President, Maypro’s Proprietary Branded Ingredients Group, Purchase, NY, www.maypro.com

• Kate Quackenbush, Director of Communications, NattoPharma USA, Edison, NJ, www.nattopharma.com

There are 126 million adult women in the U.S., and so, aside from being women, there are in fact many heterogeneous consumer demographics, sub-segments and trends in such a large group. Our panel of industry experts looks at some of the main drivers, innovations and development trends in the booming women’s health mega market.

NIE: What do female consumers perceive to be their biggest health and wellness challenges?

Lifton: Women’s health really does cover a vast landscape of consumer health needs: from bone health, to heart health, to hormonal balance and symptom relief, to vaginal health and metabolism—it really depends on age, activity levels and individual health goals. But there is no monolithic or typical female consumer, just as there is no universal male consumer.

Quackenbush: When women are younger—in their 20s and 30s—their primary concerns are reproductive and menstrual health. When women enter their mid-40s, they tend to become more concerned about peri-menopause and menopause, as well as bone strength and integrity.

After menopause, the two top concerns for women become cardiovascular wellness and bone density. The connection between these two factors is obtaining adequate levels of vitamin K2 as MK-7.

And women of all ages are always concerned about being physically fit. When both the skeleton and the cardiovascular systems are healthy and functioning optimally, women can maintain higher levels of activity and fitness, which, also favorably impacts bone and heart health.

Bérubé: Female health encompasses multiple health indications extending much further than hormonal support or vitamins and minerals for expecting or lactating mothers. An important area of interest for women include healthy aging and skin health, with support of skin hydration being a top priority concern for women across all age groups.

While women usually spend high amounts on cosmetic anti-aging or anti-wrinkle creams, few know that maintaining optimal skin hydration is the best anti-aging there is. With advances in nutrition research, new options now exist to support optimal skin hydration at all sites of the body, including areas that are less adequate for use of topical creams, such as [for the] scalp.

One of these options is the use of oral plant-derived ceramides, offering a clinically-validated support for skin hydration on all sites of the body. Ceramides are a normal component of skin, playing an essential role in preventing water loss. Studies show that corn or rice-derived ceramides offer high efficacy at low daily dosage, because they are able to stimulate the endogenous synthesis of new ceramides at the epidermal level.

Chernyak: While women tend to have a higher life expectancy than men, their greatest challenge relates to enjoying a healthier life. Women in peri-menopause and menopause tend to face significant health challenges such as arthritis, depression, osteoporosis, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

NIE: Hormonal changes affect the body’s nutritional and metabolic needs. In women, while monthly variations can call for specific support, peri-menopause and menopause create a whole range of dietary and nutritional support needs. Where is the research today on safely supporting healthy hormonal responses for women?

Lifton: Many hormonal and metabolic activities and needs overlap, whether we are referring to sleep, anxiety, mood or PMS.

Targeted nutrition comes into play. Enter: our Venetron ingredient. Derived from a patented, purified extract of Apocynum venetum, Venetron doesn’t impact the CYP3A pathway, unlike St. John’s wort, and is also more effective at a lower dose (50 mg per day). Its positive support combating stress and promoting a positive outlook and enhanced sleep quality stem from its mechanism of action in reducing secretion of chromogranic A, a stress marker, and increasing serotonin levels, so boosting mood.

Vaginal health is of vital importance, too, and so that is one of the reasons we offer ProDURA Bacillus coagulans, a unique strain of spore-forming bacteria which, according to published research, supports the health of the vaginal and gastrointestinal tracts, in addition to helping to restore a good balance of bacteria.

Chernyak: The research certainly indicates that good nutrition can help to prevent or ease some of the conditions that result from peri-menopause and menopause. Overall, a nutrient rich diet with adequate calcium, iron, fiber and moderate use of high fat foods and sugar is important in maintaining good health. Increased water consumption and limited alcohol and caffeine also play a critical role.

NIE: We used to hear so much about chasteberry, dong quai, soy and red clover for women’s health. Then concerns arose about phytoestrogenic effects that were too powerful and which could mirror, albeit less so, some of the same concerns about HRT. Where did the science and supplements net out on phytoestrogen ingredients, ultimately?

Chernyak: While phytoestrogens have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of menopause, there are some side effects that evoke caution, such as hypothyroidism, decreased mineral absorption and gastrointestinal problems including bloating, gas, constipation and nausea. There is also concern that specific phytoestrogens can cause an increase risk of breast cancer in women that are allergic to soy or sensitive to hormone replacement therapy.

NIE: What vitamins, such as vitamin K and others, are most important for women’s health, and why?

Quackenbush: Two of the major health issues impacting women aging in a healthy way are cardiovascular events and weakened bone health—two areas MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is clinically validated to address.

Vitamin K2 added to bone health formulas featuring calcium and vitamin D makes the formula much more effective in preserving bone mineralization and density, leading to increased bone strength. The addition of K2 to calcium formulas also helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular concerns from excessive calcium supplementation. For this reason, vitamin K2 is becoming a core nutrient for heart health formulas because it has been shown to not only inhibit age-related arterial stiffening, but actually improved arterial stiffness (i.e., arteries became more flexible).

The connection between the two is calcium and how it is affected by vitamin K2-dependent proteins osteocalcin and Matrix Gla protein (MGP), respectively. A platform of research has shown that vitamin K2 can stave bone and cardiovascular aging through its mechanism of activating (carboxylation) of these proteins. Carboxylated MGP has been shown to inhibit dietary calcium from depositing into cardiovascular arteries, while the activated osteocalcin ensures calcium is bound to the bone mineral matrix.

MenaQ7 was the source material for the ground-breaking research that has confirmed vitamin K2 as MK-7 is a bone- and cardiovascular-support nutrient.

NIE: Some say it’s all about insulin, the master metabolic hormone and what (and how) we supply it. Talk about safely supporting healthy glucose levels and metabolic health.

Bérubé: A big part of health maintenance involves maintaining optimal insulin sensitivity. Several metabolic disorders have been associated with insulin resistance. For example, insulin resistance in the brain manifests as Alzheimer’s disease, while in the ovaries, it is called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). While treatments of these diseases are extending far beyond reach of nutraceuticals, steps can be taken to avoid creating a favorable metabolic environment for insulin resistance.

Our current diet contains large amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars, often added as a substitute for fat in low fat foods. Since the 1970s, we’ve been told to avoid fat in our food, and hence food manufacturers offered a plethora of low fat food items laden with carbs and sugar. The result is that now our diabetes rates are skyrocketing and our population is not healthier than before.

Using inhibitors of carbohydrate digestion can help alleviate the glycemic stress associated with our current sugar intake, placing the body in a context that facilitates maintenance of insulin sensitivity rather than insulin resistance. Because we eat carbs under the form of starch or more simply as sugar, it is important to choose an inhibitor that will target both amylase and glucosidase enzymes, as they will offer the most complete coverage of dietary carbs.

Chernyak: Estrogen decreases as women start to approach menopause. Estrogen helps to move excess sugar out of the bloodstream. With less estrogen, more sugar stays in the blood, causing the accumulation of fat in the abdomen, which elevates risk for diabetes and heart disease. Staying healthy is key—eliminating soda, packaged foods with added sugars, and eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and legumes.

Lifton: As women and men both want to use effective anti-aging ingredients, Maypro’s Sirtmax—derived from the rhizome of black turmeric—is believed to enhance the activity of the anti-aging SIRT1 gene, also called the “longevity gene,” which in turn recharges mitochondria, the power plant of cells. Studies have shown decreases in body weight, in addition to healthy blood sugar levels, improved arterial flexibility and more.

NIE: Bone health: It’s about calcium, and a whole lot more. Talk about where we are today in mineral health ingredients.

Lifton: Bone metabolism is another key area, and our MBP milk protein ingredient encourages healthy bone remodeling by increasing the number of osteoblasts and decreasing the activity of osteoclasts. Without collagen, calcium has nowhere to attach to bone—MBP promotes collagen formation and, in this way, helps calcium adhere to bone. Another proprietary branded ingredient that we offer, sucrosomial magnesium, encourages strong bones, too, but in a form that is highly bioavailable—20 percent more bioavailable than magnesium citrate and absorbed faster.

NIE: Talk about innovation in women’s health ingredients and complexes for foods and beverages.

Chernyak: Women experiencing menopausal symptoms are looking for effective, science-backed solutions they can trust. Changes in hormones can result in an uncomfortable array of symptoms. This is even more complicated for women in the transitional years of peri-menopause and post-menopause, where traditional treatments are used more conservatively. In these stages, botanical therapies can prove to be advantageous.

Botanicals have been used for centuries in the East to ease the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. There are three herbs in particular that have repeatedly been shown to be efficacious in supporting the health of menopausal women: Cynanchum wilfordii, Phlomis umbrosa and Angelica gigas.

These ingredients have been extensively studied, both for safety and efficacy. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) in Korea has registered these herbs as non-toxic food materials based on the fact that they have been used as safe ingredients for herbal remedies for several hundred years in both Korea and China.

Now available in Canada, and the United States, this combination of botanical ingredients is available as EstroG-100, and science continues to validate the safety, synergy, and long history of the branded blend of natural extracts for effective support of the symptoms of menopause.

Quackenbush: Via NattoPharma’s technological breakthrough, MenaQ7 Full Spectrum K2 provides MK-6, 7, 8 and 9. It is naturally fermented using chickpea protein, offering an all-trans vitamin K2 that is free from gluten, soy and allergens. MenaQ7 Full Spectrum provides optimal and maximal delivery of vitamin K2 for superior absorption, half-life and biological activity.

NIE: Tell us about some of the newest, and most, novel nutritional solutions for women.

Bérubé: InnoVactiv offers two ingredients that can support the health of women.

InSea2 is a brown seaweed extract able to inhibit amylase and glucosidase enzymes, for an optimal blood glucose and insulin metabolism after meal. Research shows InSea2 also supports insulin sensitivity in both genders while showing no gastrointestinal side effects. InSea2 is GRAS (generally recognized as safe)-affirmed, organic certified and non-GMO (genetically modified organism), so any health-conscious woman should be able to use it with confidence.

Myoceram is a range of plant ceramide ingredients derived from corn or rice. Myoceram can effectively support optimal skin hydration levels at all sites of the body by reducing trans-epidermal water loss (the amount of water that escapes through the skin). Clinical studies show that the ingredient is effective at very low daily dose, possibly explained by stimulation of ceramide-synthase enzymes in the epidermis. Myoceram is non-wheat derived, gluten free and thus requires absolutely no allergen declaration on the label.

NIE: What other considerations should finished product manufacturers and formulators keep in mind when developing new product introductions for women?

Chernyak: Scientific support is critical in development of new products for women. Given the nature of the symptoms related to peri-menopause and menopause, it is particularly important for supplement manufacturers to provide solutions that have been validated for safety and efficacy. The science supporting EstroG-100 continues to validate this branded blend of natural extracts for effective support of the symptoms of menopause. NIE

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