Looking to Meet Growing Demand for Immune Boosting Products? Discover 5 Key Insights From Our Latest Webinar

By: Talking Nutrition Editors

Immunity: from science to the consumer

  • Understanding the role nutrients have in supporting our immune health is essential to accelerating innovation in this field.
  • dsm-firmenich’s new webinar series, ‘Immunity: from science to the consumer’, aims to uncover the latest scientific research behind immune boosting ingredients and highlight the key trends driving change in the market.
  • Here, we share a round-up of the top five learnings shared by our experts during the first webinar where they discuss why immunity is gaining rapid interest amongst consumers, and explore a number of solutions that are opening up new opportunities for consumer healthcare product manufacturers to meet the latest consumer preferences for science-backed, holistic immunity solutions.

Exploring the link between immunity and nutrition

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:

1. Immunity hits the top spot of consumer health and wellness

According to a recent dsm-firmenich survey, having a healthy immune system is a key priority for many consumers worldwide, especially for parents that want to support their child’s developing immune system and overall health.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a worldwide surge in the interest of immune-boosting foods and drinks, most noticeably in Europe, as consumers look to optimize their immunity and online searches featuring the term ‘immunity’ have increased as a result.2 But consumers aren’t just researching, they are also taking action by eating food and beverage products that offer benefits for immunity or seeking specialized health solutions that support immunity across different life-stages.3,4 Not only has this placed immune health as a top global trend once again – alongside other mega trends, such as plant-based diets and protein – but it has created opportunities for innovation in the dietary supplement and food and beverage space.5 In fact, to meet this growing demand for immune boosting solutions, we are already seeing an increase in new product launches with immunity claims in EMEA.6

2. Micronutrients work in harmony to support the immune response

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-firmenich’s latest whitepaper ‘Nutritional solutions to optimize your immunity’.

3. The microbiome matters

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.

4. Watch this space: HMOs

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-firmenich 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.

5. Want to develop specialized solutions? Combination is key

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-firmenich 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.

Time to innovate in immunity!

To support consumer healthcare product manufacturers in developing successful products that support consumer demand for immune health solutions, dsm-firmenich 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-firmenich.

Check out all of our past webinars and more by visiting our Scientific Services page.

Published on

23 June 2020


  • Optimize your immunity
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Marketing


6 min read

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[1] dsm-firmenich – Global health concerns 2019.

[2] Mintel, Google Trends.

[3] Mintel report. COVID-19 will radically change specialized nutrition. May 2020.

[4] Mintel, GNPD, 2020.

[5] New Nutrition Business. From chicken broth to kiwis to probiotics, immunity is back on our radar. May 2020.

[6] Mintel, GNPD, 2020.

[7] 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.

[8] Douglas R et al. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. PLoS Med., vol. 2, no. 6, e168, 2005.

[9] 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.

[10] Calder PC. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol., vol.75, pg. 645-662, 2012.

[11] 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.

[12] Holscher H et al. Journal of Parental and Enteral Nutrition, vol. 36, no. 1, pg. 1065-1175, 2012. 

[13] Hataka K et al. BMJ, vol. 322, pg. 1-5, 2001. 

[14] Arunachalam K et al. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 54, pg. 263-267, 2000.

[15] Sheih YH et al. Journal of American College of Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 2, pg. 149-156, 2001.

[16] JAMA. Pediatr., 2016, vol. 170, no. 1, pg. 20-28.

[17] Puccio et al. Effects of infant formula with human milk oligosaccharides on growth and morbidity; a randomized multicentre trial, J Ped Gastro Nutr., 2017.

[18] Glycom database of HMOs, meta analysis of potential HMO benefits.

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