Women’s supplements trend towards reproductive, digestive and bone health

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Ariel Skelley / Getty Images
© Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Related tags women's health Supplements Market SPINS

Menopause, painful sex, urinary tract infections, menstrual cramps, infertility, bloating, vaginal PH, hormonal imbalance, brittle bones – all health issues filling supplement lines increasingly focused on the female consumer and her specific needs. But what are women buying?

“In women’s vitamins and supplements, products specifically targeting the health focuses of reproductive health, digestive health, and bone health are the fastest growing compared to a year ago,” Haleigh Resetar, corporate communications specialist at data market firm SPINS, told NutraIngredients-USA.

She attributed these results to shifts in women’s lifestyle choices including having children later in life, focusing on overall health and wellness, and prioritizing active aging.

What the sales say

According to SPINS data, women’s health supplement sales in the U.S. natural channel grew by 18.7% to $925 million in the 52 weeks leading up to Feb. 26, 2021. A year later, growth slowed to 7% before contracting to -3.1% during the same period heading into 2023.  

A snapshot of this latest data shows superfood and whole food supplements up 28.2% to $1.9 million, performance nutrition up 18.9% to $9.1 million, and probiotics and digestive aids up 10.8% to $152.3, while a drop in the vitamins and minerals category (down 6.7% to $664.1 million) drove the decline in overall sales.

In terms of health focus, prenatal and postnatal supplements led with $194 million in sales (-4% growth), followed by digestive health with $53.3 million (+26.6% growth), menopause with $52.9 million (-15% growth) and bone health with $45.1 million (+9.6% growth). Reproductive health supplements registered the largest increase, jumping 30.7% to reach $11.1 million in sales.

Meanwhile, supplements sales for mood support fell by 35%, PMS by 26.5%, and energy support by 23.9%.

Products for the previously taboo

Despite reports of a year-on-year downswing in menopause and PMS supplement sales, there has been a rash of new product launches within the last year​ targeting hormonal imbalance and its side effects with natural alternatives and unabashed messaging focused on de-stigmatizing previously taboo topics in women's health.

Wile Women, for one, introduced its line of shame-free perimenopause and menopause supplements, tinctures, and functional drinks to embrace hormones as superpower instead of accepting women as crones aging silently through menopause and out of vitality.

“Women’s lifespans have increased by 30+ years in the last century,” Wile Women CEO Gwen Floyd told NutraIngredient-USA not long after launch​. “Wile believes the life phase that starts around 40, which we call “grown”, is the best, most aspirational time of a woman’s life.”

Ingredients supplier AIDP is also venturing behind closed doors, adding Pharmactive’s Liboost damiana extract (Turnera diffusa​), which clinical data suggests may inhibit a cGMP-degrading enzyme to induce vaginal smooth muscle relaxation for improved sexual response as women age.  Courtney Higginson, business manager of branded ingredients at AIDP, noted an increased focus on menopause and previewed that the company is planning to add two new PMS supplements to its women's health portfolio of already trending collagen, beauty from within, and fertility products.

Speaking to the success of the postnatal category, Katerina Schneider, founder and CEO at supplement company Ritual, highlighted the performance of its multivitamin, which targets the added nutritional demands of the postpartum life stage. 

“We launched our postnatal multivitamin for women in 2020, and at the time, we were told that the category was too niche,” she said. “Now it’s available at select Target stores nationwide. It’s exciting to see postpartum care gaining the attention it deserves and reaching mass retail.”

Moving probiotics out of the digestive aisle

With increasing awareness of the gut-health axis across categories, product developers are capitalizing on the opportunities in value-added formulations that move probiotics out of the digestive aisle and into products that care for the specific needs of the female microbiome.

Elodie Aragon, product manager of the women’s health and nutricosmetics portfolio ​at Lallemand Health Solutions noted in the company’s 2023 trend report that specific probiotics like Lactobacilli​ are gaining attention as naturally sourced ingredients that support vaginal and urinary tract health to contribute to general quality of life.

“Probiotics for women’s health is a considerable opportunity to expand brand portfolios with a potential target audience of over 1.4 billion women,” she added.

TruBiotics, a Bayer Healthcare brand acquired by integrative digestive and immune health company PanTheryx in 2021, is preparing to launch two new products this spring: Women's Extra Care Probiotic Capsules and the Women's Probiotic + Collagen Sugar-free Gummy, each developed for women at different stages.

“TruBiotics sees women as an important segment to focus on, looking at women through their life stages and formulating products for that life stage,” Pam Cebulski, general manager of consumer brands for PanTheryx told us recently at the Natural Products Expo West trade show. “The novel formulas were designed to be multi-benefit health solutions to maintaining vaginal and gut health microbiomes, while supporting other health concerns important to women, such as bone, hair/skin and nails, and immune health.”

Jennifer Martin-Biggers, vice president of scientific affairs and education at female-focused brand Hum Nutrition, highlighted the company’s trending Gut Instinct probiotic and its Private Party probiotic-slash-cranberry supplement for vaginal and urinary tract health. 

“We have seen a rise of interest in women’s health products around personalized solutions for a variety of health concerns,” she said. “Gut health and bloating, as well as hormonal balance have growing trends.” 

Meanwhile, companies like women’s supplement brand Bonafide Health have made a direct play for the vaginal microbiome with the 2021 launch of its Clairvee menopause supplement to provide vaginal odor, itching, and discharge relief. 

Other issues informing the women’s health supplement market: sustainability, efficacy, personalized solutions, and clean, plant-based ingredients.

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