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The intersection between performance and longevity


The Intersection Between Performance and Longevity: Designing Appealing Beverages for the 50+ Consumer

Consumers are staying more active and living longer than ever before. One quarter of Americans 55+ are health club or gym members, up 38% over the past 10 years and 61% of the Boomer generation say they exercise or want to exercise more (IBIS World, 2020). These consumers are fueling the demand for the performance nutrition category, a platform ripe with opportunity for targeted beverages to address the marketplace whitespace and meet the unique nutritional needs of the 50+ active adult. Balchem is poised to help design appealing nutritional products rooted in science and desired by consumers through expanded scientific capabilities and strategic marketing leadership.

Performance beverages have an opportunity to target specific consumer demographics

While performance beverages resonate with all consumer demographics, 62% of US consumers ages 45-54 and 53% of consumers 55+ have purchased a sports/performance ready to drink (RTD) beverage or powdered mix within the past 6 months. (Source: Lightspeed/Mintel 2020, Base: 1,231 internet users aged 18+ who have purchased any sports/performance/protein drinks or mix in the past six months). Globally, Mintel reports an 86% increase in dairy-based beverages containing a “healthy aging” claim since 2017, a trend supported by the growing aging population. (“Cater to the evolving needs of healthy aging consumers”, Mintel, 2022)

Marlena Hidlay, global strategic marketing manager, Albion® Minerals at Balchem notes, “the dietary supplement category features targeted products by various demographics including gender and age, while the performance category takes a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. A unique whitespace in performance nutrition includes beverages specifically designed for active adults ages 50+.”

The 50+ consumer has unique nutritional needs

Why the need for demographic-specific nutrition? Eric Ciappio, PhD, RD and Balchem’s strategic development manager, nutrition science, weighs in. “Our nutritional needs change significantly as we age. For example – our need for calcium increases by 20% to 1200 mg/day for seniors (51+ for females, 70+ for males) to help support our bone health. 

The category known as “healthy aging” has targeted this demographic in the past, yet a new platform called Longevity has since emerged, aging down the category, and focusing on a proactive approach towards healthy aging.

Balchem, the market-leading manufacturer of Albion® Minerals, premium mineral chelates and VitaCholine®, the essential brain nutrient, recently invested in consumer insights to further define the longevity platform. Balchem’s proprietary research of more than 600 US consumers revealed that the most appealing longevity product positioning areas are mobility support/joint health, bone health and vitality/energy support. (“Supplement, Food & Beverage A&U, FRC, 2022) Claims to support these products are met through nutritional supplementation with ingredients such as calcium, Vitamin D, choline and plant-based protein.

There are a few key challenges adults 50+ face when it comes to their diets, such as higher nutritional needs than the general population, as is the case for calcium and protein according to key expert groups. Another challenge even when these consumers are making a concerted effort to live a healthier lifestyle by eating more plant-based foods and exercising, is that their requirements change.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the requirement for iron is estimated to be 70% higher for those who engage in regular exercise. Expert groups such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American College of Sports Medicine state that the need for protein may be upwards of 2.5x higher than the general population (Thomas DT, et al., J Acad Nutr Diet 2016; 116(3): 501-528). Plus, because of the differences in absorption of the iron forms found in plant-based foods (i.e., non-heme iron) compared to the iron form typically found in animal-based food (i.e., heme iron) and because of the higher presence of anti-nutrients such as phytates, the IOM estimates that the iron requirement may be 80% higher for vegetarians. This last challenge is particularly tricky as it’s an issue of not only getting the proper amount of a nutrient, but also the right form of that nutrient. Chelated mineral forms such as Iron Bisglycinate Chelate are optimized to address this concern, as clinical data shows that it is absorbed up to 5-6 times better than “traditional” iron salts such as iron sulfate when in the presence of phytates.

Adults 50+ face several nutritional challenges. According to food & beverage intake data from the USDA, 1 in 5 Americans age 50+ do not get enough zinc in their diet, more than half of Americans age 50+ do not get enough magnesium, more than 3 in 4 women 50+ do not get enough calcium. And while it can be sometimes overlooked, just 1 in 10 adults 50+ are getting enough of the essential nutrient choline in their diets. Brands can help to address these dietary shortfalls by developing interesting food, beverage, and dietary supplement products that contain these nutrients in sufficient amounts and that provide engaging and scientifically backed messages outlining their benefits.

Furthermore, while it may not be the nutritional requirement per se, there are health benefits that consumers may increasingly look to as they age, relative to a younger population. For example, concerns over hypertension may not be prevalent for consumers in their 20’s but may be top of mind for 50+ consumers. Magnesium has an emerging connection to healthy blood pressure regulation, and in January 2022 the US FDA recently announced a qualified health claim regarding magnesium’s ability to reduce the risk of hypertension (https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-announces-qualified-health-claim-magnesium-and-reduced-risk-high-blood-pressure).

Why is it so difficult for active adults over 50 to consume the right nutrients in the correct amounts?

There are a few key challenges they face when it comes to their diets. One reason is that their nutritional needs can sometimes be higher than the general population. Even when these consumers are making a concerted effort to live a healthy lifestyle and eat lots of plant-based foods and exercise, their requirements change. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the requirement for iron is estimated to be 70% higher for those who engage in regular exercise. Expert groups such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American College of Sports Medicine state that the need for protein may be upwards of 2.5x higher than the general population (Thomas DT, et al., J Acad Nutr Diet 2016; 116(3): 501-528). Plus, because of the differences in absorption of the iron forms found in plant-based foods (i.e., non-heme iron) compared to the iron form typically found in animal-based food (i.e., heme iron) and because of the higher presence of anti-nutrients such as phytates, the IOM estimates that the iron requirement may be 80% higher for vegetarians.

Healthspan Pro is a concept designed to meet the nutritional needs of active adults 50+, validated by target consumers

Balchem recently developed a consumer-validated concept to address the needs of this growing demographic. Healthspan Pro is a nutrient-rich performance shake designed for active adults 50+ that contains all the nutrition consumers need to power their performance. Packed with high-quality ingredients clinically proven to provide health benefits and deliver a more bioavailable dose through mineral chelates in every bottle. Excellent as a pre-workout snack or recovery drink!

Healthspan Pro is the great tasting and great for you way to power your performance every day. To learn more about this concept and its consumer-validated scores, click here.

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