Prenatal supplements – Never too early: Growth, trends and popular ingredients for mother and child

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27 Nov 2017 --- When it comes to the supplements industry, one area that may not be considered by every company is prenatal supplements. However, this could be a mistake; nutritional fortification during pregnancy is an area in which there is quite a bit of consumer interest.

Prenatal supplements’ purpose is to contain the minerals and vitamins women are advised to take during pregnancy and postnatal lactation. They are designed to help fill nutritional gaps in a normal diet.

The supplements have potential benefits for the reduction of birth defect risk, preterm birth and low birth weight, while helping women to maintain their own health during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are similar to other multivitamins, but contain different amounts of specific nutrients to better suit the needs of an expecting mother. Today, NutritionInsight looks into what is trending in the expanding prenatal supplements market.

Dynamic growth presents opportunities
Though the number of product launches fluctuated from 2012 to 2016, Innova Market Insights statistics show that the prenatal supplement product launches tracked have achieved an active expansion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) up to +22.3 percent.

This has not gone unnoticed in the industry, it seems. “The prenatal category is really compelling for bringing new consumers into a category,” says Megan De Stefano, Global Probiotics Marketing Leader, DuPont Nutrition & Health. “It’s a time when most women are increasing their use of supplements, and at DuPont, we think there is a real opportunity to bring women into a new category, like probiotics, while they’re pregnant and keep them in the category.”

There is intriguing potential for consumer retention, De Stefano adds: “Once they are in the category they could be more willing to bring their babies, children and partners into the category as well.”

North America leads market, Asia enjoys immense opportunity
North America is the most active region regarding prenatal supplement product launches, Innova notes, accounting for about 40 percent of overall global launches over the past five years. It leads Europe and Asia, which are by far the two other biggest markets for prenatal supplements.

In addition, those who are looking to target a rising market in the prenatal supplements space might want to look to Asia. The region leads the way in terms of emerging areas with a CAGR of +77.8 percent, almost double that of its nearest rival, Europe, with +39.9 percent.

Consumer trends
The general trends in the prenatal supplement space resemble those elsewhere in nutrition. “Just like in the adult category, the trend of overall wellness and staying healthy are really important for pregnant women,” says De Stefano. “Especially because they can’t take many over the counter medications if they get sick.”

In addition, easy-to-take supplements with a powerful combination of benefits are currently on trend, De Stefano points out.

Click to Enlarge“A real opportunity for prenatal supplements is where there are proven benefits for both the mother and baby,” De Stefano remarks. “At DuPont, we offer HOWARU EarlyLife, which helps keep mothers’ and babies’ immunity strong during and after pregnancy. And there is a new publication based on this same study which indicates this product can promote happiness and calmness during and post pregnancy. With just one product, there are so many great benefits for mom and baby.”

When it comes to delivery systems, “any delivery systems that are convenient and palatable are optimal,” De Stefano adds.

The dominant active ingredient in prenatal supplements is vitamin B9, according to Innova statistics, with an impressive +52.1 percent CAGR from 2012 to 2016. It is listed in front of acids (not specified), magnesium, vitamin E and calcium in the top five.

Formulations and unclear labeling
In terms of issues to address in the space, there has been a suggestion that the industry could pay more attention to product formulations. Prescription and nonprescription prenatal supplements significantly differ in terms of declared composition and nutrient strength, but they have labels that are similarly unclear in the information given about aspects of use such as dosing, according to a study in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“The industry should review their product formulations, especially the amounts of nutrients provided, in light of changes to Daily Values (DVs) in the new food and dietary supplement labeling regulations that were published last year,” Scientific Consultant Leila G Saldanha, Ph.D., told NutritionInsight at the time, suggesting possible industry action based on the study’s findings.

Findings of the study included the fact that compared with nonprescription products, prescription products contained significantly fewer vitamins and minerals. Declared amounts of folic acid were also higher in prescription products, whereas vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine and calcium were higher in the nonprescription products. Furthermore, virtually all products contained levels of one or more nutrients that exceeded the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for pregnant and lactating women.

Emerging ingredients
Looking to the future and trying to identify an ingredient on the rise in prenatal supplements, it seems selenium is becoming popular. Innova Market Insights tracked the ingredient’s CAGR for launches from 2012 to 2016 and it came to an impressive +114.1 percent. Selenium is a mineral that has previous been used in sports nutrition products and has been used in supplements to help ward off diseases as diverse as heart disease, prostate cancer and macular degeneration.

Behind selenium, the ingredients in the top five with the highest CAGR are niacin, ammonium molybdate, gluconic acid and vitamin A.

Meanwhile, at DuPont, there is a determination to keep going with targeted gut health products. “We will continue to focus our microbiome efforts on pregnant mothers and babies,” notes De Stefano of the company’s plans for future ingredients.

Taking the statistics and industry opinions into consideration, it is difficult not to look at the market for prenatal health products and see one with great potential. The space around nutritional protection for mother and baby looks set to expand in the future as more companies get involved, and growth continues in Asia.

By Paul Creasy

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