Female-specific diseases are numerous and widespread, yet there are still many unmet needs, said Dr Monica Olivares, RD&A Director of Women & Infant’s Health at Kerry Ingredients.
“Women’s health is a broad concept because it is not just about the physical condition, but also about wellness. For example, women undergoing menopause are healthy individuals, but they experience symptoms that affect their quality of life.
“A woman’s health needs alter throughout her lifetime, along with the changes in her body, which can be overcome with different supplementations,” Dr Olivares shared during her presentation at Growth Asia Summit 2023.
According to Dr Olivares, about 50% of global female consumers are concerned about women’s health, and 75% are adopting a long-term approach to health.
Fertility issues have always been top-of-mind for many women. Based on WHO statistics, 48.5m couples around the world deal with infertility.
Some 40% of female infertility are due to ovulatory disorders, of which 85% are caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterised by hyperandrogenism, menstrual irregularities, and small cysts in the ovaries.
However, 50% of women experiencing PCOS are undiagnosed.
“There are a lot of women out there who are unaware that they have PCOS, and that there are solutions for them. In this group, a deficiency of myo-inositol (MI) at the ovarian level and a deficiency of D-chiro-inositol (DCI) at the systemic level have been observed.
“It is important to fill these deficiencies, which have an impact on fertility in different ways. But the question is which amount and in what ratio?”
Developed by Biosearch Life, a Kerry Group company, Caronositol Fertility is based on the theory that the traditional MI to DCI ratio of 40:1 is insufficient in addressing the hormonal imbalances in women facing reproductive challenges.
Its patented 3.6:1 ratio comes from decades of research and multiple clinical studies.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2019 included 60 women diagnosed with PCOS who were attempting to become pregnant. They were given a dose of 1100mg MI + 300mg DCI for three months.
It was found that the 3.6:1 ratio group had 2.5 times higher pregnancy rate than the control group. There was also significant reduction in miscarriage rate (15% versus more than 40%).
Furthermore, hormonal imbalances also affect skin health, mood, metabolism, and menstrual regularity. For example, 60% of women suffer from acne or hirsutism (excessive hair growth, especially around the mouth and chin) resulting from hormonal imbalance.
A 2022 study in India provided clinical evidence that the targeted 3.6:1 ratio helps alleviate these problems in women diagnosed with PCOS.
Some 283 participants consumed 1100mg of MI and 300mg of DCI for 12 weeks, and were followed up over a three-month period. Results showed that 43% reported improved acne symptoms, and 49.5% improved hirsutism symptoms.
Nutrition plays a major role in the development of a child’s brain, metabolism, and immune system from conception till two years of age.
“Although breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life has been widely recommended, mastitis is a painful situation experienced by about 15% of new mothers, which often results in cessation of breastfeeding.”
Mastitis is an inflammatory condition of the breast that is associated with proliferation of certain microRNAs in the mammary gland.
Biosearch Life’s Hereditum is the first range of probiotics derived from the breast milk of healthy mothers. Specifically, Hereditum Breastcare LC40 (Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716) is a patented strain that claims to modulate immune defences, alleviate inflammatory responses, and reduce staphylococcus load in breast milk.
Clinical trials involving around 1,000 women discovered that administration of LC40 during breastfeeding maintained microbiota balance in breast milk, and consequently reduced the incidence of mastitis by 51%.
Additionally, 88% of participants who received LC40 reported “significant improvement” in pain symptoms.
“The findings showed that L. fermentum CECT5716 can reduce pain and discomfort in women experiencing lactational mastitis, and may help prevent mastitis in healthy breastfeeding mothers. This may, in turn, encourage them to continue breastfeeding.”
By 2025, more than 1bn women worldwide will be experiencing perimenopause or postmenopause.
“Women spend around 40% of their life in the menopause stage. Data shows that 80% of women experience menopause symptoms, and that 33% of women take vitamins or supplements to support their health through this phase. Notably, 97% of consumers think that brands should work harder to provide solutions for their needs,” Dr Olivares said.
Female menopause symptoms are related to the gradual decrease of oestrogen production.
There are compounds in botanicals known as phytoestrogens that have been found to mimic the activity of oestrogen. They have also demonstrated efficacy in reducing the frequency and intensity of menopause symptoms.
Biosearch Life’s Luprenol is standardised to 0.03% of 8-Prenylnaringenine (8-PN), a molecule identified as the “most powerful” phytoestrogen. In addition, it contains 0.8% xanthohumol, a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative compound.
“Luprenol is 100 times more potent than soy isoflavones. It can be absorbed directly, without the need for intestinal biotransformation. Moreover, as 8-PN is extracted directly from spent hops, an existing waste stream is productively utilised.”
In a clinical study, women who took 100μg/day of 8-PN experienced a 40% reduction in hot flashes and a 32% improvement in the Kupperman menopausal index — specifically in the areas of nervousness, mood, fatigue, and excessive sweating — after six weeks.
Following 12 weeks of 8-PN supplementation, hot flashes reduced by as much as 94.5%.
Various studies have also shown that supplementation with 8-PN supports hormonal balance, is safe, and has good tolerability.
Beyond these common women’s health concerns, Dr Olivares believes there are other categories that require further research, including cardio-metabolic and cognitive heath, sports nutrition, digestion, and immunity.
“Kerry has developed a wide-ranging portfolio that cater to diverse needs, such as botanicals, probiotics, DHA etc. We will continue to be an ally for women in addressing the different needs across their life span.”