June 15, 2024


The Healthy Technicians

More Nutrients to Enhance the Usual Diets

Food is an immense source of nutrients that nourish our body. Interestingly, food is not the only one! It is a well-known fact that nutritional needs change with aging, pregnancy & lactation, acute & chronic diseases, and other medical conditions. In such cases, food is essentially supplemented with products that cater to specific nutritional needs. These products are called food/dietary supplements.

The twentieth century recorded unprecedented progress in elucidating the biochemical structures and physiological roles, of vitamins and other nutrients. Today, many nutrients can be produced abundantly and inexpensively. The present-day dynamics and lifestyle patterns demand value addition at the nutritional level. Therefore, dietary supplements form an important part of the preventive approach, to the trend of health and well-being that has been in vogue.

Dietary supplements are defined as foodstuffs that are meant to supplement the normal diet, and which are concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances, with nutritional or physiological effects, alone or in combination, marketed in the form of solids (capsules, pastilles, tablets, pills, and similar forms), liquids (ampoules, drop dispensing bottles, and similar forms), and sachets of powder, designed to be taken in measured quantities, where nutrients could be vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, and other ingredients.

Dietary supplements are the products that are ingested by mouth and contain one or more of the following ingredients – vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids and/or other associated metabolites.

A food or dietary supplement differs from a drug, medicine, or food additive, as a drug used to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent diseases, whereas a dietary supplement is meant to supplement the diet, by increasing the total dietary intake of a nutrient. A food additive can be both direct and indirect. A direct additive is the intentional addition of a substance to food, for improving its shelf-life, texture, nutrition, or other aspects of quality. An indirect additive is one that unintentionally contaminates food, including packaging materials or machine residues. Dietary ingredients in supplements are exempt from the food additive regulations applicable to conventional foods.

What are the market sentiments towards this category of nutritional boosters?

A report from a market research firm estimated that the global dietary supplement market was valued at USD 115 billion in 2016, and is projected to register a CAGR of 8.6% over the forecast period of 2017-2022.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of GDP has been increasing drastically, with the middle- and low-income economies experiencing enormous out-of-pocket expenditures on health care. These expenses can be attributed to the rising burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases in these regions. On the other hand, developed countries have also increased their healthcare expenditures, owing to mandatory health targets, increasing the occurrence of lifestyle diseases, and expanding the geriatric population.

Across the globe, the burden of non-communicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate, with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes account for about 85% of the total healthcare expenses. This increased expenditure has prompted the adoption of preventive measures by consumers. This trend is a key driver of the global dietary supplements market.

The World Demographics Profile highlights another important driver of this market: the age-group of 25-54-year-old people accounts for almost 42% of the global population, and this end-user segment is the highest consumer of dietary supplements. The popularity of food supplements among adults is in line with the overall health and wellness trend. Vitamins, minerals, and protein supplements are primarily consumed by this segment. The growing popularity of probiotics, for the enhancement of immune health requirement in general, and gut-health in particular, is also an important contributor to the increasing demand for dietary supplements.

Based on geography, owing to changes in lifestyle and lack of balanced diets, Asia-Pacific and North America represent two major segments of dietary supplements. Moreover, Asia-Pacific is poised to register the highest growth rate, due to rapidly aging demographic profiles in countries, such as Japan, Australia, and China. The region is also expected to attract significant investments in dietary supplements, especially herbal products, and Ayurveda extract-based products, owing to the ample availability of raw materials in India and other South East Asian countries.

The main hurdles for market –

Stringent regulatory environment, particularly in developed economies, like the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to strictly adhere to testing, quality control, distribution practices, label claims, etc. is a constraint for the growth of the market. In the European Union, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has defined a particular set of the health claims that can only be made with respect to food supplements. Companies are also required to prove their claims, failing which, a product recall is the only option they are left with. Such regulatory burdens are tightening the prerequisites of manufacturing, product safety, and labeling claims, thereby dampening the demand for dietary supplements.

The low efficacy of dietary supplements, as compared to medicinal products, is also one of the hurdles, to the global dietary supplements market, as these supplements take more time to deliver results than medicines.

The way ahead –

Dietary supplements are poised to register healthy growth over the forecast period, as Over-the-Counter (OTC) medicines are currently the only substitute available in the market. However, with the increasing concerns of antibiotic resistance, the indiscriminate use of OTC drugs will decline sharply during the forecast period, the gap of which will be suitably filled by food supplements.