Nutrition Options For The Immune System

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Growth in health concerns across the globe is expected to drive the market for nutritional supplement. By Arijita Pani, Senior Research Associate—Food & Beverage; Suraj Negvenkar, Assistant Manager—Food & Beverage; Nagesh Manepalli, Head—Food, Beverage, Animal Feed & Agriculture from MarketsandMarkets.


Nutritional intake forms the fundamental basis of the competence and capacity of an individual’s immune system, which is essential for the human body’s wellness and survival against damage from diseases and parasites.

In general, an immune system acts as an exclusion barrier by eliminating any pathogenic organisms that may enter the body while also maintaining a record of immunological encounters. Proper nutritional intake is a fundamental aspect that helps to maintain the immunity system, thereby preventing potential illnesses and ensuring that the body functions remain unaffected. The primary nutritional building blocks for the immune system include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, glutamines, vitamins, minerals, and other supporting functions.


Factors That May Harm The Immune System

There are certain factors that affect the immune system, such as poor diet, lack of sleep, chronic stress, and specific medical conditions, along with the use of certain pharmacological agents such as immunosuppressive agents and corticosteroids used to treat autoimmune disorders, immune-mediated diseases, and transplant patients.

Additionally, the aging process also affects the immune system, as older individuals tend to consume less food on a regular basis. Due to this, they have less variety in their diets, resulting in a weak immune system. Older individuals also experience loss of appetite due to the intake of medicines. Such factors have increased the demand for supplements in the consumers’ lives.


Changing consumer landscape driving innovation and Demand

To overcome such deficiency and health problems in the most natural way is to have a balanced and healthy diet—a diet that includes vitamins B6, A, C, and E, as well as folate, iron, selenium, and zinc to fulfill the regular requirement of nutrients. However, due to hectic lifestyles and lower consumption of complete meals, individuals are unable to maintain a healthy diet, due to which supplements are sought as alternatives.


  • Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements help to provide nutrients (either extracted from natural food sources or synthetic) to increase their quantity in a regular diet. Nutrient compounds in dietary supplements include vitamins, fiber, amino acids, minerals, and fatty acids. The use of probiotics and prebiotics also influences the immune system’s response and has been accepted by consumers of all age groups in most of the developed and developing countries.

There are many products that are marketed for the overall enhancement of the immune system and contains one or more of the vitamins—A, C, D, B6, and E—along with selenium and zinc. Some of the commonly used products include the line of Airborne products such as minerals, vitamins, and various other ingredients such as ginger, Echinacea, and other herbal ingredients for immunity enhancement. Emergen-C is also one such brand, which contains a combination of vitamins C & B and minerals.

Furthermore, rising concerns about the adverse effects of conventional medicines, which include allopathic drugs, are expected to promote the use of botanical extracts as an ingredient for the production of various dietary supplements over the coming years. Furthermore, fibres are indigestible substances and also help to reduce weight, lower the cholesterol levels, and stabilise blood sugar levels. They are also beneficial to stabilise cholesterol and glucose levels. Hence, all these factors are anticipated to boost the demand for fiber supplements.

  • Sports Nutrition

The rise in disposable income, along with increasing consumer awareness toward health, as well as concerns regarding physical fitness, have given rise to sports nutrition products. Increasing influence of sports personalities on consumers has also forced athletes to focus on their physical strength and increased their dependence on supplements. Additionally, the rise in the number of gymnasiums and sports complexes is also expected to drive the growth of the sports nutrition market. Companies such as Maximum Human Performance (MHP) (US), Universal Nutrition (US), and CytoSport (US), among others, are playing a vital role in providing innovative products to its consumers.

Changing lifestyles have also increased the consumption of weight management products, as it has proved to be a nutritious and healthy way of gaining or losing weight. Protein bars are nutrition bars that help to increase the immunity, as they contain a high proportion of protein and carbohydrates.

Further, given the changing industry and consumer trends toward insect protein, cricket flour-based energy bar is currently highly accepted in many countries due to consumer awareness about its nutritious value in terms of protein. The application of cricket-derived insect protein in food applications has been high across North America, especially in the US. Multiple start-ups have been venturing into this market through the use of crickets in sports nutrition. These start-ups have been earning investments from capital investors for the expansion of their production facilities. Hence, North America dominated the global market for crickets in 2018. Companies such as Protifarm (Netherlands) have been increasingly expanding their product offerings in the European market.

  • Superfoods

The rise in popularity for ‘superfoods,’ such as supergrains and superfruits, has increased significantly over the last few years due to increasing inclination of consumers toward natural and wholesome food product and their ingredients. For instance, quinoa is one such supergrain, which is widely accepted and has high antioxidant and nutrient values that aid in reducing free radicals as well as prevent several diseases.

However, with the growing demand for organic products in the US and Australia, countries such as Argentina have also encouraged regulatory bodies to frame supportive policies, which would help to increase the production output for organic foods. This has further increased the demand for superfoods as many superfoods are grown organically to increase its nutritious value. Rising acceptance in Asian countries is also further propelling the demand for superfoods. For instance, rising sales of green juice, royal jelly, black vinegar, and blueberries and chlorella in Japan, owing to the increase in demand for natural products, are expected to propel the demand for nutritional supplements.

  • Infant Formula

Infant formula is a food product that is designed for infant and baby (under 12 months of age) feeding. Besides breast milk, infant formula is considered as the only other alternative regarded as acceptable by the medical community for infants below the age of one year. Due to this, baby food manufacturing companies are focusing on this products segment to capture the market share. Soy-based infant formula is an increasing trend, making it a good option for babies who display a high degree of organoleptic sensibilities. Products such as Enfamil’s ProSobee Soy Formula is one such example of a dairy-free, milk-free, and lactose-free, and has the same amount of DHA as in dairy-based formulas.


Various mode of consumption

Nutrition options are consumed through multiple modes such as tablets, capsules, or liquids, depending on the individual requirements (including age). Bars and powders are also significantly gaining popularity due to wide acceptance among millennials. Gummies are slowly and steadily increasing its market share. Gummy vitamins are chewable vitamins, which provide texture and taste similar to gummy candies. It is available in a variety of flavors, shapes, and colors. They are currently one of the most popular types of vitamins among children.

Soft gels are also witnessing high market penetration since they are easy to swallow and digest, and hence more convenient to take. Among all the modes of consumption, strips are attracting consumers due to their association with fast action. These melt-in-your-mouth strips are making headway in the market due to the availability of various types such as vitamins and minerals, among others.


In a nutshell

A healthy and regular diet is the best way to maintain a robust immune system. However, due to busy lifestyles and changing consumer preferences, it is becoming difficult for food & beverage manufacturers to fulfill this demand. Hence, consumers are inclined to use other nutrition options that would help supplement the role of complete foods in maintaining the immune system.

Moreover, due to increasing health concerns, consumers are ready to pay higher prices for premium products to maintain the health of their family. This factor is further propelling the market of nutrition alternatives. Innovation and research & development in companies cater to better options, which is also expected to provide a wide variety of products in the next five years.

The rise in demand for herbs for the prevention of mental as well as physical disorders is anticipated to boost the botanicals segment over the coming years. Moreover, easy availability of these products globally aids in driving its market share.


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