Vitamin D Becomes an Immunity Star
As more studies link vitamin D deficiency to the risk of Covid-19, vitamin D is gaining new status as an immunity star. Several novel F&B and supplement launches cater to rising interest from tuned-in consumers.
As the pandemic spurred supplements last year, vitamin D sales skyrocketed, rising by 34.4% year on year at mainstream US retailers (Spins, 2020). Americans, especially those aged 65-plus, are most likely to name vitamin D when asked which vitamins and minerals they’re looking for from food or supplements (International Food Information Council, 2021).
Some experts believe vitamin D is the only supplement we really need, since it naturally occurs in few foods. As its primary source is sunlight, this is especially important in winter. The US government now also recommends supplemental vitamin D for babies in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.
Pre-pandemic, Vitamin D was primarily touted for its bone health benefits, since it boosts calcium absorption. But increasingly, studies also link vitamin D deficiency with poor immune response and greater Covid-19 risk. Researchers have found that people deficient in vitamin D are nearly twice as likely to test positive for Covid-19. US supplements industry organisation the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) is currently developing a platform to spotlight vitamin D research.
It’s “the vitamin you never knew you needed for immune health” says US supplements brand HumanN in promoting its Vitamin D3 Chews, introduced last September. Another pill-alternative product, liquid vitamin D3 brand Good Rāz, launched this month from New Jersey pharmaceutical manufacturer Morre-Tec. The company says the water-soluble drops can be added to any food or beverage without altering the taste.
More F&B brands are launching vitamin-D-enriched products, such as new soups from British vegan brand Soupologie. Last year, New York beverage start-up Cloud Water Brands launched a Cloud Water + immunity line, packing the daily recommended dose of vitamin D plus zinc into each bottle. Michigan-based ShineWater, currently expanding distribution around the US, similarly delivers a full dose of vitamin D per bottle.