The supplement industry is booming as more people realize the negative effects that a high stress, always-on lifestyle has on their ability to meet daily nutritional needs. Consumers are responding with a rush to health and well-being products, influencing overall spend on a myriad of promising ingredients to strengthen and support physical and mental health. This shift is good news for supplement makers but may require more agile thinking to respond to demand in 2022 and beyond.
Let’s Talk Trends
Immune support is top of mind as people look for ways to better support their health with nutrients and antioxidant botanicals. Basic ingredients like Vitamin C, D3 and zinc still top the list, but new trends like beta-glucans and quercetin are increasingly making a showing. Quercetin is important for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that can promote a balanced immune response. Betaglucans are the new kid on the block, known for anti-inflammatory benefits that come from soluble fibers in bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and plants. They work to stimulate immune responses by helping to prevent and fight infections.
Stress and Mental Health Support
As consumers continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health and stress support drive supplement purchases in 2022. The brain health supplement space experienced a whopping 91% growth rate in 2021 compared to the prior year. The category is expected to continue its growth trajectory, to an estimated $5.8 billion by 2023.7 Ingredients that help calm the stressors of the past two years are rooted in nootropic and adaptogenic ingredients like ashwagandha, rhodiola and beneficial mushrooms. These ingredients are proving to be popular as the healing benefits of biologically active plant compounds are more understood. They also support enhanced memory and focus.
Vitamins B1 (thiamin), B6 (niacin) and newcomer phosphatidylserine (PS) are becoming more relevant ingredients as consumers better understand the cumulative benefits of combined herbal, vitamin, and nutrient support to overall health and wellness. Phosphatidylserine, a naturally occurring chemical found in the brain, is trending as an important ingredient in the brain health supplement space.2 B vitamins and PS work to offset the internal impact of stress on the immune system, and studies show it may enhance motivation, support energy, attention, and mental processing speed.2,3
Sleep is King
Supplement ingredients that enhance sleep quality, length and support mental health are more attractive to consumers who are learning to take control of their nocturnal wellbeing with sleep tracking devices. L-theanine, magnesium, valerian root and GABA are becoming the go-to ingredients for sleep health more often than the hormone melatonin. Magnesium bisglycinate, a combination of magnesium and glycine (an amino acid that enhances sleep quality and neurological function), is a more highly absorbable form of magnesium that promotes steady state relaxation for deeper, more restorative sleep. Practitioners are steadily moving away from recommending melatonin and antihistamine products to promote sleep due to the unsavory side effects that can include grogginess, headaches, and nausea.
Energy, Focus and Mental Sharpness: Nootropics and More
Energy supplements have always been popular. But quality ingredients with added mental focus benefits are now more important to consumers who are looking beyond their morning coffee to find less jittery, more holistically derived energy effects.
Botanical and herb combinations with nootropic effects are experiencing explosive growth with consumers, many of whom are looking to more naturally improve energy and focus by increasing their brain health without bothersome side effects. Increasing use of nootropics is being driven by strong demand to enhance cognitive performance, improve healthy aging and delay the onset of dementia. Nootropic herbs and botanicals can achieve this by enhancing cerebral circulation, and are neuroprotective.
Botanicals that are currently dominating the nootropic marketplace include Gingko biloba, American ginseng, and Bacopa monnieri.7 Other botanicals that affect stress, focus, attention, and sleep have been extremely popular (rhodiola, holy basi, gotu kola, lemon balm), and supplement companies are quickly developing multi-ingredient products that can improve both short and long-term brain health, while providing other benefits like increases in memory, energy and mood.
Other ingredients like Theobromine, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin), can be important contributors to mental health and energy products. Theobromine, found in the cacao plant, can be a milder, more pleasant energy source than caffeine and keeps the mind active without the potential negatives of caffeine. It can even lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that theobromine as an ingredient supports alertness, attention, and executive function with practically no stimulant effects on the central nervous system.4,5,8
Vitamins like D3 (Cholecalciferol), provide antioxidant and neuroprotective effects that can support increased energy levels. Niacin is important for energy production and helps support cellular metabolism by helping to convert food into energy by aiding the enzymatic reactions in our gut.6 Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) continues to show up as a prominent nutrient recommended by practitioners for improving energy levels and supporting overall metabolic health.
The Fermenters: Pre and Probiotics
So many aspects of whole-body health start with a healthy gut. It is now commonly known that 80 percent of our immune cells reside in our gut. This underscores a trifecta of interdependency between our microbiota, intestinal lining, and our immune systems. Probiotic bacteria play a big part in all three, as they contribute to the care and keeping of a healthy and happy microbiome, due to the beneficial microbes that increase the population of healthy gut bacteria.
The commercial market for probiotic products and foods is strong. With sales over $40 billion, and forecasts projected to reach over $64 billion by 2023, the market continues to expand as more is known about the importance of probiotic action both inside and outside the gut microbiota.9 People are increasingly using probiotics to support things like the gut/brain axis (vagal and nerve health), gut/skin axis, heart, skin, immune and colon health.10,11 Probiotics can also help support the absorption of key vitamins and micronutrients.
Because no two microbiomes are the same, the trend toward personalized probiotics has become more mainstream. Personalized probiotics are bacteria strains that are custom formulated based on your own gut flora. Research in personalized medicine has highlighted data that show the promise of personalized probiotic therapies to enhance the gut-brain axis, autoimmune concerns, diabetes, and even cancer.10
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a group of nutrients that “feed” the beneficial microbes in our digestive tract and are equally important for their influence on probiotic action. Fermentation of prebiotics by gut microbiota produces beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that increase healthy probiotic action in the gut which can support healthy digestion, immune response and GI balance.
The therapeutic benefits of pre-and probiotics goes far beyond gut health. Probiotics can be beneficial in skincare products to deliver good bacteria to the skin, which can ease skin irritations and improve conditions like acne, rosacea, and dryness.11 Regulating gut microbiota with pre-and probiotics can also have anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body. They can ameliorate age-related bone loss, strengthen the intestinal lining reducing gut permeability (aka “leaky gut”), and improve cellular health by offsetting the bad bugs that cause dysbiosis.11
Staying on Top of Industry Trends
The pandemic has certainly increased people’s savviness and awareness around the interdependencies of mood, mental health, stress, sleep, and immunity. Customers want ingredients and products they can trust to help them feel great. Trends and demand change quickly with growing consumer curiosity and shifts to quality and sustainability of ingredients and new formats.
Companies that keep up with the most important supplement trends can address consumers’ top concerns and help support a lifetime of health and wellness.
- Research UM. Dietary Supplements Market Report | Global Forecast To 2028 | Up Market Research. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://upmarketresearch.com/report/dietary-supplements-market-global-industry-analysis
- Grebow J. Cognitive function is now a mainstream market with strong growth: 2022 Ingredient trends for food, drinks, dietary supplements, and natural products. Published online January 21, 2022. Accessed March 1, 2022. https://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/view/cognitive-function-is-now-a-mainstream-market-with-strong-growth-2022-ingredient-trends-for-food-drinks-dietary-supplements-and-natural-products
- Richter Y, Herzog Y, Lifshitz Y, Hayun R, Zchut S. The effect of soybean-derived phosphatidylserine on cognitive performance in elderly with subjective memory complaints: a pilot study. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:557-563. doi:10.2147/CIA.S40348
- Scholey AB, French SJ, Morris PJ, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Haskell CF. Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance during sustained mental effort. J Psychopharmacol. 2010;24(10):1505-1514. doi:10.1177/0269881109106923
- Kerimi A, Williamson G. The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015;71:11-15. doi:10.1016/j.vph.2015.05.011
- Gasperi V, Sibilano M, Savini I, Catani MV. Niacin in the Central Nervous System: An Update of Biological Aspects and Clinical Applications. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(4):974. doi:10.3390/ijms20040974
- Roe AL, Venkataraman A. The Safety and Efficacy of Botanicals with Nootropic Effects. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2021;19(9):1442-1467. doi:10.2174/1570159X19666210726150432
- PubChem. Theobromine. Accessed March 10, 2022. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/542
- Inc GMI. Probiotics Market Size to Exceed USD 64 Billion by 2023: Global Market Insights Inc. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/probiotics-market-size-to-exceed-usd-64-billion-by-2023-global-market-insights-inc-578769201.html
- Bubnov RV, Spivak MY, Lazarenko LM, Bomba A, Boyko NV. Probiotics and immunity: provisional role for personalized diets and disease prevention. EPMA J. 2015;6(1):14. doi:10.1186/s13167-015-0036-0
- Boyajian JL, Ghebretatios M, Schaly S, Islam P, Prakash S. Microbiome and Human Aging: Probiotic and Prebiotic Potentials in Longevity, Skin Health and Cellular Senescence. Nutrients. 2021; 13(12):4550. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124550