The controversy over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has driven many women to seek alternatives such as Amerifit Nutrition’s, Bloomfield, Conn., Estroven, a dietary supplement with black cohosh and soy-derived isoflavones.

Ephedra-containing supplements are surrounded in controversy and tightening regulations. This has fueled research and the introduction of new or reformulated weight loss-oriented products that are ephedra-free.

Weight loss continues to be the "holy-grail"? of supplement categories, and the search for new ingredients only seems to increase with time, mirroring the lack of suitable ingredients on the market and the exponential fattening of Americans. Obesity is not only a problem in itself, but it leads to many other chronic illnesses, including "metabolic syndrome."

Weight loss is the largest single health category in the supplement arena, supported by the following statistics:

  • Almost 1/3 of adults in the U.S. are overweight
  • 23% of American households had someone trying to lose weight for health reasons
  • A 12% increase in overweight women by 2005 is predicted
  • The number of women desiring to lose 20 lbs. is at an all-time high
  • The weight loss, obesity and satiety markets are strong and predicted to be sustainable
  • 1 in 4 children are currently overweight, and a childhood obesity market is emerging

Here are some of the ingredients introduced for this health condition last year.

MET-Rx Extreme Diet FX, from MET-Rx USA, Boca Raton, Fla., is a dietary supplement said to be an advanced thermogenic formula without ephedra. A 120-ct. bottle of caplets is sold for $29.99 in health stores nationwide. Grenaide, by Nature's Best, Hauppauge, N.Y., introduced Grenade Thermogenic Dietary Supplement in Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, and Orange. The ephedra-free product contains no aspartame, sugar, or preservatives.

Biotest T2Pro, Biotest Laboratories, Colorado Springs, Colo., introduced Biotest T2pro Thermogenic Formula. Scientifically proven to boost natural thyroid production, says the company, it retails in a 90-ct. bottle in health food stores. Xenadrine RFA-1, Cytodyne Technologies, Wall, N.J., claims to be a revolutionary thermogenic diet formula clinically proven to dramatically increase the rate of fat loss, more than diet and exercise alone.

Venus 4 Women's, Thousand Oaks, Calif., Good Morning AM Formula is a stimulant and ephedra-free supplement. The formula combines high potency B-complex and Siberian ginseng to boost energy levels and metabolism, green tea and L-carnitine to burn unwanted fat without over stimulating the nervous system, and a generous amount of gingko for mental clarity throughout the day. A 60-ct. bottle retails for $29.95 in health food stores.

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Another area that goes hand-in-hand with the weight loss market in the functionality of many of the products is Type II diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Type II diabetes used to be found almost exclusively in adults, but now children are increasingly developing NIDDM due to rising obesity rates. It usually starts with the cell's impaired ability to interact with insulin (insulin-resistance), and as the body's demand for insulin increases, the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.

So far, 6.2% of the population, or 17 million people, has diabetes. Of that figure, only 11.1 million people have been diagnosed. About 90-95% of all diagnosed cases are Type II diabetes. One million more people aged 20 and older are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

Here are some of the ingredients and products introduced last year that look to address this health condition.

TwinLab Dia-Balance's, Hauppauge, N.Y., Weight Loss Dietary Supplement is said to promote weight loss naturally and safely. The product is ideal for diabetics who don't want high levels of caffeine in their diet. A 60-ct. bottle of capsules retails for $19.95 in health food stores.

Diabetes Health Pack by Nature Made, Pharmative Pharmaceutical, Huntington Beach, Calif., is a dietary supplement combination pack for diabetics. The product is available in a 30-ct. pack of 7-ct. individually wrapped packets—each contains alpha lipoic acid, chromium picolinate, a multivitamin, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium supplements.

The dietary supplement Cell-Tech, by Muscletech Research and Development, Toronto, has a great new flavor, says the company. This product provides 10g of creatine and 200mg of insulin-potentiating alpha lipoic acid per serving. It is also said to enhance muscle size and strength. The 7-lb. jar retails in health food stores.

Carbolite At Last!, Carbolite Foods, Evansville, Ind., introduced At Last! Low-Glycemic Candy Bars made with sucralose. Peanut Butter, Chocolate Crisp, Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Truffle, and Chocolate Mint all are reported to taste better than other low-glycemic snacks, are sugar-free, and are enriched with a mineral formula that is said to play an important role in glucose metabolism. The 1-oz. bars can be found in health food stores.

Women's Health

The women's health market was marked to be one of the potentially most lucrative dietary supplement, functional food and OTC market segments before last year, and is beginning to explode with the controversy on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In July 2002, three science reports supported the conclusion that HRT has potentially very serious long-term risks.

The primary target for women's health supplements is the 40-plus crowd. By 2010, the number of women older than 40 will increase from 63 million to 73 million, and then to 83 million by 2020. In the next decade, women aged 45-54 will increase 25%, and those aged 55-64 by 53%. In light of the fact that all women who live into the later 40s and up will experience menopause, there is a huge market to reach these Baby Boomer women.

Newly introduced products for this category are as follows.

Black Cohosh Products. Transitions for Health, Portland, presents Emerita Menopause Plus Formula dietary supplement. It is formulated with black cohosh extract, said to promote the relief of menopause symptoms. Also, it is formulated with red clover, said to support cardiovascular health, bone health, and promote the relief of menopause symptoms.

NOW Foods, Bloomingdale, Ill., adds Black Cohosh Root 550mg and DGL 400mg + Glycine Licorice Extract to its Herb Capsules dietary supplement lineup. They retail in a 100-ct. size each for $4.99 and $11.99, respectively, in health food stores.

Soy Isoflavone Products. WoMeno, NOW Foods, is designed to support a healthy mood during menopause, as is WoMeno with Calcium, which adds calcium to support healthy bone structure, are the latest additions to the company's Galilee Organics Herbal Supplement line. They are 100% vegetarian, certified kosher, and organic, according to the company.

Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill., introduces Estren, a dietary supplement said to help balance hormone levels in women. It contains a soy protein extract, and is fortified with vitamins and minerals. A 30-ct. pack is sold for $8.99 in Walgreens stores nationwide.

Swanson Ultra Promenovin Supplement, Swanson Health Products, Fargo, N.D., contains Swiss red clover extract formulated to address mid-life concerns of both genders.

Metagenics', San Clemente, Calif., EstroBalance Hormone Cycle Nutritional Support is claimed to provide nutritional support to women with symptoms associated with their hormone cycles by promoting estrogen metabolism and increasing estrogen excretion. It retails in tablet form in a 90-ct. bottle on the Internet.

Women’s special needs are addressed with products such as TruNature brand, Leiner Health Products, Carson, Calif., black cohosh extract, touted to provide “menopausal nutritional support and comfort.”

Antioxidants and Berry Blends

Last year highlighted mainstream consumer awareness of the health benefits of antioxidants. Although there are many antioxidants on the market, berry blends are one of the most popular.

According to MangoLogic, a Martinsville, N.J.-based research firm, 85% of people have heard of antioxidants, and interest in antioxidants increases with age. For example, the 60+ population has an 'interest score' of 58, while people in their 40s score 48. Additionally, 54% of U.S. adults are aware of an association between antioxidants and cancer, according to IFIC's 2002 Quantitative Consumer Survey.

The USDA has sponsored research at Tuft's University into the development of the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) assay that has become the industry standard for measuring antioxidant capacity of certain foods and supplements. Although there are many competing tests, the acceptance of a standard has made it easier for companies to widely demonstrate the antioxidant value of their products.

With the goal of tapping into the potential of this market, berry products and berry blends have become hot for both their health functionality and (sometimes) flavor and color. ORAC analysis on berries confirms the anthocyanins that color berries also provide high antioxidant capacity. Country Life, Hauppauge, N.Y., introduced Berry Good Antioxidant, a natural fruit extract dietary supplement. A 60-wafer bottle retails for $11.50. Its ingredient list reads fructose, maltodextrin, gum acacia, mannitol, sorbitol, stearic acid, citric acid, silica, magnesium stearate, cellulose, natural grape flavor, natural cherry flavor, natural carrot flavor.

Immunity Vitamin for Pregnant Women by Rainbow Light, Santa Cruz, Calif., contains an antioxidant fruit blend with elderberry, bilberry, blueberry, grape, acerola, rose hips, and cranberry. NS

Much of the information in this article was derived from Mintel International's Global New Products Database,, 312-932-0400.

Sidebar: Going Global

An example of a thermogenic / weight loss product is seen in Bodyonics Herbal Support by Bioharmony, South Africa. Bioharmony has reformulated The Green Range Bodyonics Pep Tone 'n Tighten, a 100% natural herbal supplement. The weight loss aid supplement is said to have a new improved formula that manages weight and boosts energy levels.

In Japan, there also is a growing social concern about the rising number of diabetic patients and those with high blood pressure. In response to this, Calpis developed Kenchao (a health drink certified by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), which in a clinical study involving 34 subjects, decreased blood pressure by an average of 14mg/dl within 30 minutes after the meal.

Why? This drink contains hard-to-digest dextrin to sedate sugar absorption, so it is important to take it during a meal. As a beverage, it goes well with any everyday meals. With the company aiming to make 2 billion yen in the first year, it was launched nationwide on September 17 with a suggested retail price of 100 yen. The Japanese name, Kenchao, means 'King of Health Teas.'