Mental health emerging as platform says report

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mental health Nutrition Psychology

The mental health market for dietary supplements is emerging as a
new health platform, according to a report from Frost and Sullivan,
but it's not all about baby boomers wanting to ward off
Alzheimer's. Rather, stressed-out executives aged 30 and above are
seeking ways to enhance their memory and stay alert.

The report on the US dietary supplements market covers four main health platforms - weight loss, bone health, gut health, heart health and immune health - which together were valued at $11.45 billion in 2005. With compound annual growth of 10.8 percent, Frost and Sullivan forecasts that it will more than double to be worth $23.41 billion by 2012.

Although mental health was not included in this valuation, Sucharithra Narayanan, senior research analyst for the food and beverage ingredients group, told that if the analysis is repeated, it may well merit a ranking amongst the other indications.

Narayanan was unable to give a precise valuation of the mental health market at the present time, however the entire supplements market, including sports nutrition and anti-aging supplements, was said to be worth around $20 billion in 2005.

While the term 'mental health' has negative connotations linked to counseling or a need for pharmaceutical drugs, the new trend is towards mental clarity.

"There is an untapped market for memory enhancers and energizers,"​ said Narayanan. "Not many people think about Alzheimer's until they are 55 or 60. But younger people are thinking about energy, because of high stress levels."

She said that manufacturers are starting to target the 30+ market, but that there are still very few mental health products on the market. Those that are, are likely to be herbal.

Ginseng is also receiving attention for its purported energy-boosting properties, and St John's Wort has long been associated with helping to lift minor depression.

Regulatory issues mean it is difficult to promote products for mental health, but that some products may have a dual function - for example antioxidants for immune health may also help boost concentration.

"More studies will drive the market,"​ said Narayanan.

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