Two women, one a younger adult and the other an older adult, stand arm in arm smiling in a parkTwo women, one a younger adult and the other an older adult, stand arm in arm smiling in a park

There's a famous saying in the sports world that "Father Time is undefeated," but this is true for everyone who feels the pangs of growing older – often unexpectedly since the aging process can catch us off-guard. But there's no reason brands, supplement developers, and manufacturers should also be surprised when consumers seek healthy aging and wellness aging solutions.

In the past, people made significant lifestyle changes later in life to delay aging. There is substantial evidence that physical activity at any age has beneficial effects on both physical and cognitive health. Research indicates that when healthy lifestyle choices are adopted earlier, people improve their chances for long-term quality of life and better overall health well into their golden years.

An older man happily sitting on a skateboard as a younger man gently pushes him down a sidewalkAn older man happily sitting on a skateboard as a younger man gently pushes him down a sidewalk
A Univar Solutions scientist in the Esson Solution Center lab working on a formulationA Univar Solutions scientist in the Esson Solution Center lab working on a formulation

What is healthy aging?

Over the past decade, there has been increasing global awareness surrounding healthy aging, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "a process of maintaining functional ability to enable well-being in older age."

The United Nations General Assembly has also declared 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing, a global collaboration not just to add years to human lives but to help ensure people experience quality years of better health and well-being in the later stages of life. The program supports age-friendly environments, creating responsive and integrated healthcare systems and health services, and ensuring long-term care for those who need it. Government agencies, various organizations and associations, private sector entities, academic institutions, and the media are encouraged to contribute to achieving the Decade's goals through direct action, partnerships, and participation in the Healthy Ageing Collaborative.

While these worldwide initiatives work to improve healthy aging for seniors, their families, and the communities in which they live, consumers also now widely acknowledge their role in how to slow aging. Most of them understand that staying healthy as you age doesn't begin later in life but during much earlier stages instead. As health choices made by consumers – especially young adults – are driven by healthy aging, this also provides the nutraceutical industry with opportunities for new product development and innovative formulation.

The benefits of healthy aging

According to Euromonitor data, half of the global population is now considered healthy aging consumers, and millennials are critical targets for healthy aging supplements. A 2016 Mintel report highlights that 57% of millennials are afraid of getting older, with three in five taking proactive measures to combat the physical and mental signs of aging. 50% are more focused on their health than a decade ago, and just slightly below 52% of consumers between the ages of 44 to 55. Additionally, half are motivated to manage weight to live longer, and just over a quarter claim they would be willing to pay to avoid a health condition – even if it may not occur. With a focus on preventative health, millennials value products and ingredients that address current health concerns (like better sleep quality or stress relief) with lasting benefits.

Long-term benefits for healthy aging include:

  • Increased bone density
  • Stronger immunity
  • Faster injury recovery
  • Reduced risk of chronic illness (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure)
  • Fall prevention
  • Better cognitive function

As the oldest U.S. millennials are now entering their early forties, it's an ideal time for brands and manufacturers to tailor wellness aging supplements to the immediate needs of this generation.

Healthy aging tips for consumers

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) conceptualized Whole Person Health. Rather than specific disease treatment, whole person health focuses on health restoration, promoting resilience, and disease prevention across a lifespan.

From mindful food and beverage consumption to improving stress management and mental health, consumers are more in tune with their overall health and longevity than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic brought immune health to the forefront, but it made people aware of other ways to integrate healthy living as a regular part of their everyday lifestyle. Aging is inevitable and affects all organ systems in the body. Many factors impact healthy aging, including those we either can't or maintain little control over, such as hormonal aging, accumulative damage, and various genetic predispositions. Furthermore, the aging process can also accelerate by negative lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Others, however, are manageable to support healthy aging. Extensive research has identified actions one can take to help manage your health, live with as much independence as possible, and maintain your quality of life at an elderly age, including:

  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Enjoying a balanced diet
  • Learning new skills
  • Visit the doctor for regular screenings
  • Socialize with others
  • Get enough sleep
  • Lower your stress
  • Prioritize mental wellness

By 2030, 12% of the global population – equating to an estimated one billion people – will be aged over 65 years, increasing from 585 million nearly a decade ago. Healthy aging presents tremendous opportunities for health and wellness players as a platform for developing and marketing a wide range of nutraceutical products – especially those that focus on boosting healthy life expectancy.

An older woman lifting small dumbbells in a wellness facility.An older woman lifting small dumbbells in a wellness facility.
An older woman sitting cross-legged outdoors practicing yoga.An older woman sitting cross-legged outdoors practicing yoga.

Aging healthy and its importance to brands and manufacturers

According to the New Hope Network NEXT Data and Insights survey, brain, heart, and bone strength joint health rank among consumers' top concerns surrounding the aging process. Following those are vision, mental health, and weight control. Although consumers have heightened concerns about aging (in contrast to previous generations), many admit to coming up short with initiative-taking solutions. An astounding combined 79% of those surveyed professed to either not doing enough with supplement regimens or have no regimen at all.

The data present a significant market opportunity for supplement brands and formulators to tap into since they already manufacture products that address the same health concerns raised in the survey. Nutraceutical ingredient suppliers and the brands they support can benefit from formulation and development that support the long-term needs of younger adults for healthy aging.

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) 2022 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, supplement usage has climbed back to pre-pandemic use levels after declines were spurred by economic and supply chain impacts. 52% of the consumers who take supplements report using specialty supplements with omega-3s, probiotics, melatonin, and fiber, comprising the top selections. Among U.S. consumers, trust in the dietary supplement industry remains high, with 77% of Americans saying they find the industry trustworthy. That number increases to 84% among people already using supplements.

The attitudes of consumers reflect in their investment in healthy aging supplements. Brands have seen the market shift from serving the elderly to a much more comprehensive age range. Younger generations recognize that mobility and bone health are vastly improved by lifestyle and nutritional choices leading up to their senior years. Just as consumers of all ages have transitioned from thinking about lifespan to putting more emphasis on (and investment into) healthspan – the years of a person's life that are healthy and free from severe disease.

Nutrition and an active lifestyle are essential for quality of life and promote sustainable aging health. However, supplementation is also vital – it helps bridge the nutrient gap for a balanced diet, ultimately bridging the gap between lifespan and healthspan.

Supplement manufacturers must adapt to the consumer shift with healthy aging products that increase healthspan as opposed to lifespan, especially since seniors are living longer. New ingredient innovation also makes anti-aging and even age-reversal solutions more reachable possibilities than just a decade ago. 

A 3-part strategy for healthy aging supplement producers

Supplement brands and formulators are well-positioned to meet the demand for the ingredients and nutrients that are important for healthy aging consumers. In 2021, the global dietary supplement market reached worth just north of $151 billion. The following year, the average American consumer spent $96.50 per trip on vitamins and supplements. To enhance market growth in the space, manufacturers should keep these three strategies top of mind:

And that's just the first step. Helping the wax supplier bring a more robust material to market opens new opportunities for product makers to gain a competitive edge. Now we can show companies across markets and applications how to use this hero ingredient in their own completely new products or improved formulations. The possibilities are exciting!

Position supplements as problem-solves:

  • When should individuals start thinking about healthy aging?
  • Are there one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to supplements?
  • What are the recommended supplements for specific health benefits?

These are just some of the numerous questions consumers will ask as they begin their active aging exploration or how to start a supplement regimen. Brands should provide transparency about the benefits of their products and give consumers new ideas for proactive approaches toward healthy aging. 

Awareness and reliability in partnerships: Manufacturers should also be aware of the resources they have to help satisfy market demands, especially when new ingredients or product types generate sudden or overwhelming demand increases (looking at you, CBD). Univar Solutions offers an extensive ingredient portfolio in the nutraceuticals space to help our partners gain a competitive advantage, explore industry trends, and find innovative solutions in growing categories that benefit consumers.

Engage with customers for innovation: Engaging with customers is an ideal way to discover the latest trends and address questions about the product ingredients or usage. Moreover, it's essential to earn the trust of younger consumers. According to the New Hope Network, 56% of millennials take pride in managing their health by purchasing plant-based, organic, or grass-fed food from responsible farming and local growers. Millennial shoppers connect with brand stories focusing on practice and products with clearly stated benefits that are also socially responsible or eco-conscious while aligning with their health needs.

Could these discussions make you rethink your existing formulation or devise a new formulation strategy? Univar Solutions offers specialty lab services with scientifically based counsel to support new nutraceutical development or reformulation for healthy aging products across various industry segments. These segments include functional foods, beverages (including sports nutrition), and a multitude of dietary supplements.

Aging well is living well

Global studies, health organizations, and consumers have primarily aligned that healthy aging is an investment for a sustainable quality of life throughout the aging process. While supplementation use continues to thrive post-pandemic, especially among younger shoppers, there are still plenty of innovation and advancement opportunities for supplement brands and manufacturers to capitalize on. While people are living longer, much work is still left to connect an individual's lifespan with healthspan better. Consumers widely recognize that supplement regimens are a vital complement to exercise and diet for wellness support.

When it comes to getting older, Father Time remains undefeated – even for people who age well and live well. But by embracing healthy aging and better overall wellness choices during earlier stages in life, people are beginning to celebrate and enjoy the aging process. Helping consumers on their healthy aging journey can inspire them to remain active (or even perhaps become vintage triathletes), remain sociable and engaged with friends, and find the health and wellness activities that make them most happy.

Additional Resources

Note: The information shared on this blog should not be taken as medical, financial, or legal advice.


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