By: Talking Nutrition Editors
A healthy immune system can help to reduce the risk, length and severity of disease or infection, and consumers are increasingly looking for holistic solutions that will support a more resilient immune system. There is increasing evidence that nutrition helps to enhance the body’s natural defenses so that it is well equipped to defend itself against pathogens, allergens and other immune triggers. In the first session in our immunity webinar series, we consider the most promising innovation areas in the immunity space and highlight which nutrients are already well-known to play a key role in immune health, as well the emerging ingredients that are opening up new opportunities to meet consumer demand.
Below, we highlight the five key learnings that support innovation in nutrition solutions for immune health:
Micronutrients, namely vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, omega-3s, folate and other minerals like zinc and iron, have been extensively researched and are well-known to work together to support immunity.7 Vitamin C in particular is recognized for its role in helping to lower the risk, severity and duration of the common cold.8 Because of this, experts advise 200-500 mg/d of vitamin C. Similarly, 50 µg/d vitamin D is proven to reduce the risk of acute respiratory tract infections9, whereas a daily intake of 250 mg/d EPA and DHA omega-3s may help to resolve inflammation and support healing after an infection10. Zinc is also proven to have important benefits for the immune system.11 As well as helping to promote the growth, maturation and activity of immune cells, deficiency in the mineral is linked to altered immune response and increased risk of inflammation.
Because of their key role in supporting normal immune function, optimal intake of these essential nutrients is highly advised. Despite this though, certain population groups do not meet the recommended daily intakes through diet alone, which can increase the risk and burden of illnesses. This highlights the importance of nutritional products in bridging nutrient gaps and supporting the health and wellbeing of populations worldwide.
Two important sustainable, market-ready solutions were presented during the webinar - multi-micronutrient packed in a high performance compostable material and life’s™OMEGA, the only commercially available plant-based equivalent to marine- sourced fish oil, omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acid in a single source. This innovative ingredient contains a minimum of 500 mg/d of EPA and DHA (with a combination of min 150 mg/d EPA and min 300 mg/d DHA), making it 85% more potent than omega-3 derived from fish oil.
For more information about the immune system and benefits of micronutrients for immune health, download DSM’s latest whitepaper ‘Nutritional solutions to optimize your immunity’.
It is a well-known fact that probiotics are important for digestive health, but their benefits for supporting a healthy immune system are becoming more widely recognized. Specific probiotic strains are proven to have a positive effect on immunity; lowering the risk of respiratory tract infections and some allergies.12,13,14,15 These effects are not surprising when you consider that 70-80% of the immune system is located in the gastro intestinal tract, a key area where probiotics exhibit their effects.
One major cohort study in more than 8,600 children found that infants who had probiotics within the first 27 days of life had a 34% lower chance of developing auto-antibodies which could lead to type 1 diabetes and autoimmune diseases later in life.16 So, although more research is needed to explore the mechanisms behind probiotics and immunity, they are emerging as a safe and natural solution which may support immune health.
Numerous private label solutions combining specific probiotic strain, micronutrients and other synergistic ingredients, also natural-derivatives, were presented and available to support a wide range of age groups.
Already familiar in the early life nutrition market, HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides) are the third largest component in breast milk, after lactose and lipids. To date, not many studies have explored the benefits of HMOs for immune health, however, there are already some important clinical findings, including positive antibacterial and antiviral effects and proven immune benefits in infants.17 HMOs also appear to benefit immunity in adults, with new and emerging science suggesting some HMO variations help to protect from infection, provide anti-inflammatory properties and strengthen mucosal gut immunity.18
DSM and Glycom – a pioneer in the development and commercialization of HMOs for early life nutrition applications – are already innovating with these components in the immune space. Stand-alone or in combination with other ingredients, like vitamin C or probiotics, HMOs can be included in a variety of formats, including powders, chewables or gummies, therefore catering to different consumer preferences.
The combination of specific vitamins and minerals with other emerging ingredients for immunity is opening up new opportunities to develop science-backed and sustainable concepts that will meet the latest consumer demand for holistic solutions. Potential ideas that DSM is already looking into include multi-micronutrient products, probiotic solutions or sustainable omega-3 derived from algal sources. Moreover, by being selective about the ingredients they are choosing, manufacturers can develop targeted products that meet the individual immune needs of consumers at different life-stages, from early life through to senior adults.
To support consumer healthcare product manufacturers in developing successful products that support consumer demand for immune health solutions, DSM works in partnership with customers at every stage of development, from concept to consumption. To discover how you can leverage the latest science behind nutrients for immunity why not get in touch with our experts today to get access to our broad portfolio of science-backed products, customized solutions, and extensive services. Connect with an expert to unlock your immunity innovation pipeline with DSM.
What’s next? In the meantime, you can sign up to the next webinar ‘Nutritional solutions tailored to the life cycle’, where we will be joined by Prof. Philip Calder to learn how consumers’ immune needs vary along the lifecycle, the science behind nutritional solutions per age group and DSM’s offering as an end-to-end partner.
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 Gombart AF et al. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System – Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 1, pg. 236, 2020.
 Douglas R et al. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. PLoS Med., vol. 2, no. 6, e168, 2005.
 Martineau et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ, vol. 356, i6583, 2017.
 Calder PC. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol., vol.75, pg. 645-662, 2012.
 Roth D et al. Zinc supplementation for the prevention of acute lower respiratory infection in children in developing countries: Meta-analysis and meta-regression of randomized trials. Int. J. Epidemiol., vol. 39, pg. 795–808, 2010.
 Holscher H et al. Journal of Parental and Enteral Nutrition, vol. 36, no. 1, pg. 1065-1175, 2012.
 Hataka K et al. BMJ, vol. 322, pg. 1-5, 2001.
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 Puccio et al. Effects of infant formula with human milk oligosaccharides on growth and morbidity; a randomized multicentre trial, J Ped Gastro Nutr., 2017.
 Glycom database of HMOs, meta analysis of potential HMO benefits.