As consumers try and protect themselves against Coronavirus, US Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) predicts that sales of immunity supplements could reach a record year. The category is expected to spike above 25% in 2020- up from 8.5% growth to $3.3 billion in total.
It’s not just the US who are reporting strong sales of immunity supplements, UK and Europe have seen a surge in sales, with immunity products consistently occupying the top places in Amazon’s Health and Household and Vitamins & Dietary Supplements product rankings.
So, which vitamins are experiencing significant growth?
Although Vitamin D is associated with the healthy development of bones, muscles, and joints, recent research reveals just how much it can help the immune system. Vitamin D is primarily made from a reaction of the sun when it touches our skin. During the winter months, or when much of our time is spent indoors, this can be difficult to achieve. Changes in government guidelines have boosted sales and we expect this to continue for many months.
Zinc is known to be an important micronutrient for the immune system, and a deficiency in this can result in an impaired immune response. For many years, laboratory research has shown that Zinc can stop cold viruses from multiplying, and recently, scientists have found that taking Zinc can shorten the duration of a cold. An estimated 17.3% of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake and in South Asia, it is up to 30% (1).
Several members of the B Vitamin complex, namely Vitamin B6, B12, and B9 have been implicated in the immune response. It’s only found in animal products like eggs, meat, shellfish, and dairy. Up to 15% of people don’t get enough B12, and they’re more likely to be vegetarians, have celiac disease or other digestive issues, or be an adult over 50. The B vitamins have bee found to play an important role in the immune system, and a deficiency in them can alter the response of the immune system.
Perhaps the most popular supplement taken to ward of colds and flu, Vitamin C plays a major role in immune health. The vitamin supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection.
Vitamin C also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress can negatively affect immune health and is linked to numerous diseases.
Omega 3 fatty acids may help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of the immune cells (3). There are three forms of omega fatty acids- EPA, AHA, and ALA. ALA is called an essential fatty acid as it cannot be made by the body so it must be consumed through the diet or supplements.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, consumer concerns about immunity are heightened at this time. A healthy and well-balanced immune system can not only reduce the risk of getting viral and bacterial infections but also promotes life long wellness.
Wessells KR, Brown KH. Estimating the Global Prevalence of Zinc Deficiency: Results Based on Zinc Availability in National Food Supplies and the Prevalence of Stunting. PLOS ONE. 2012 Nov 29;7(11):e50568.
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*Claims for food supplements mentioned in this article are not meant for general public, but are purely for information of food supplement industry professionals. Please note that the claims are not authorised by European Food Safety Authority for use on labels or marketing materials.