Gencor highlights need for women-specific sports nutrition ingredients and formulations
08 Mar 2023 --- Gencor details the common challenges faced by female athletes in sports, some of the risks and benefits of supplementation, what the science and clinical evidence reveals about women’s sport nutrition needs and how to create formulations that are tailored to those needs ahead of its webinar on March 16 (3:00 PM CET).
One main topic to be discussed in the webinar is how underserved the female athlete demographic is. A recent survey conducted by the Council on Responsible Nutrition revealed that even though 77% of consumers of dietary supplements are women, only 2.5% of sports nutrition products explicitly target this demographic.
“I think there are a few reasons for this,” says David Sandler, a sports nutrition formulator at StrengthPro Inc. and one of the webinar’s presenters. “First, lack of knowledge exists in both the needs of females and the market that exists for female-specific products from a brands perspective. Additionally, I believe the industry is both shortsighted and slow to respond to needs properly.”
“Many groups are just simply afraid to take the leap and look for low-hanging fruit when it comes to product development. I also believe we need more women in strategic positions or more so to have a ‘strategic voice.’ We often find women lead marketing teams, for example, but they have no voice when it comes to formulation, product development and manufacturing.”
According to Mariko Hill, the global innovation manager at Gencor Pacific and a professional cricket player, “context is key” when it comes to ingredients and formulations aimed at the needs of female athletes, including pain from menstrual cramps, fatigue from iron deficiency, dysregulated hormonal cycles caused by low energy availability and amenorrhea.
“For that reason, there are various ingredients that help support the needs and wants of female athletes,” Hill underscores. “In my opinion, there are three ingredients that come to mind when it comes to supporting the three needs previously mentioned.”
Firstly, Hill touts the benefits of HydroCurc - a bioavailable form of curcumin clinically proven to reduce muscle soreness and increase iron absorption without any side effects.
“This is groundbreaking as iron is a prooxidant and can cause many adverse effects in the body, so this provides a novel solution to supplement female athletes safely and effectively,” Hill underscores.
Secondly, Hill emphasizes the benefits of Levagen+, Gencor’s unique palmitoylethanolamide ingredient that supports both recovery and performance and has well-established pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
“These benefits are relevant to female athletes as it can be used for pain relief related to exercise and menstrual cramps,” she states.
Lastly, Hill discusses the benefits of Libifem – the first ever botanical extract to have been clinically studied within a female athlete population. According to Hill, the study revealed the effects of fenugreek – a clover-like herb native to the Mediterranean region, southern Europe and western Asia – on female power, strength and body composition.
“Typically, ingredient studies that ‘boost’ sports performance were only conducted on male participants, so cannot generalize to the female physiology,” Hill explains. “Libifem proves that there is a significant benefit for athletes who want to improve body composition and performance.”
Following the science
Sandler notes that through the development of “gold standard” research protocols to determine dosing and effect, Gencor is able to produce and distribute products that can actually address the specific athletic and overall health needs of women.
“I believe ingredients groups need to continue to develop and promote female-oriented ingredients such as what Gencor has done with its unique SKUs that offer true women-specific benefits,” Sandler affirms.
“They need to be surveying/researching the environment, talking with customers, and determining needs of prospective target markets. Then the Brand needs to understand the relevant ingredients, formulation requirements and specific components that address female health and nutrition needs. Thus it is imperative to consult with women and plan accordingly.”
Sports nutrition equality
Hill highlights that “the growth of women in sport and the movement for gender equality is certainly influencing the rise in female-centric sports nutrition products.”
Sandler states that the women’s sport nutrition space is both an opportunity for growth and problem-solving.
“I believe as more research is conducted and as more knowledge is gained, product-specificity will provide solutions for all women, not just sports but all facets of life.”
In particular, in sports nutrition, we will understand more deeply that women’s products should not just be a lighter or weaker form of a predominantly male product, but specifically designed for women using ingredients that have been clinically validated in women studies,” he concludes. “So, products will become more tailored rather than just ‘assumed-benefit’ designed.”
By William Bradford Nichols
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