Immunity boosters are a popular way of staying on top of immune health: from capsules and tablets to fortified food and beverages, these ingredients are in demand all year round thanks to their protective qualities. Today, NutritionInsight takes a look at the latest developments on the immunity platform.
Boosters meet consumer trends
Immune health is certainly a worldwide concern. A recent global health concern study by DSM that interviewed over 7,500 people across ten countries showed that more than half of all respondents worry about their immune system, especially concerning maintaining their energy levels.
“The survey also demonstrated that most people feel there are ways to boost their immune system, for example through eating a balanced diet and by taking food supplements,” Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Professor for Healthy Ageing at the University Medical Center Groningen and Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM, reports. “Immunity boosters, such as vitamin C, meet consumer demand for solutions that support overall immunity, including energy, so that they can go about their day without worrying about performance or becoming ill.”
“Consumers want products that help them take a proactive approach to health and wellness vs. a reactive one – and immune health ingredients help manufacturers respond to this trend,” notes Michael Bush, President and CEO of Ganeden. “Consumers want functional benefits in the products they’re already consuming, and immune health benefits are at the top of the list.”
Opportunities for immunity
In the immune health space, Ganeden has recently taken the opportunity to join forces with Kerry, further strengthening the company’s positioning. Kerry now has several unique digestive and immune health solutions that can be added to functional foods, beverages and supplements, including GanedenBC30, Staimune and Wellmune.
“There is a large market opportunity for the fortification of immune ingredients into everyday foods, beverages and supplements,” says Bush. “According to global data, immune health is the second most desired benefit, and 87 percent of consumers are interested in products with immune health benefits.”
“There are a variety of immune health ingredients that can be used in food, beverage and supplement formulations; however, there is a need for additional consumer education around ingredients that are supported by clinical research,” Bush adds.
There is now also an opportunity to increase the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) worldwide for vitamin C, which plays an important role in supporting the body’s immune system. This is according to Dr. Eggersdorfer.
“Its immune-stimulating effect acts as a defense against infections, such as common colds,” Dr. Eggersdorfer explains. “Vitamin C promotes the mobility of neutrophils, immune cells which locate and migrate to sites of infection or injury in order to phagocyte and kill pathogens. As a powerful antioxidant, it can also help neutralize harmful free radicals, pollutants and toxins.”
Currently, the RDA for vitamin C varies from country to country. For men, the range is between 40mg per day to 110 mg per day, and for women, it is from 40mg per day to 100 mg per day. However, Dr. Eggersdorfer notes that new science indicates that 200mg per day can provide further health benefits, such as reducing the duration of the common cold.
“Scientific communities are therefore now calling for the RDA of vitamin C to be increased to 200mg per day, to help encourage optimal intake across the global population,” Dr. Eggersdorfer says.
Some countries, like China, New Zealand and Australia, have already taken action and implemented a revised recommendation, notes Dr. Eggersdorfer. A suggested dietary target (SDT) for vitamin C at a higher dose of 200mg per day to improve public health and reduce the risk of for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has been put into place.
“Increasing the RDA from a regulatory perspective will build a foundation for intake to be increased, but ensuring individuals meet the recommendations may still be a challenge. Raising awareness of the importance of consuming sufficient vitamin C will be key to addressing this,” Dr. Eggersdorfer explains.
Delivering protective benefits
Ganeden sees a high demand for immune health benefits that are delivered through the fortification of everyday foods and beverages with functional ingredients, and this is due to their convenience and ease of incorporation into daily routines and diets, according to Bush.
“A 2017 SSI Consumer Survey showed an increase in purchase interest across all food and beverage categories for products that support immune health,” Bush explains. “In addition, supplement formats such as gummies and sachets are on trend.”
Globally, dietary supplements are the most popular category for immunity-related claims, according to Dr. Eggersdorfer. “Other popular delivery systems vary by region and include a range of convenient, on-the-go drink formats such as tea, juice and drinking yogurts,” Dr. Eggersdorfer adds.