By: Talking Nutrition Editors
Vitamin D, also referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is most well-known for its role in strengthening bones and muscles, therefore reducing the risk of falls and fractures. As good bone and muscle health is necessary for maintaining independence and quality of life as we age, vitamin D is therefore essential in older individuals. However, the nutrient has benefits beyond bone and muscle health too, including supporting our brain, heart and teeth. An adequate status is also critical for a proper functioning immune system.1
The role of vitamin D in immunity has been notably highlighted during the pandemic, with an ever-growing bank of evidence suggesting that optimal vitamin D status is key for immune function.2,3,4,5 With immune health now a priority for most, many individuals are looking towards vitamin D for support. However, even if we’re consuming a balanced diet, we can rarely meet our nutritional requirements for vitamin D through food alone. Consumers are increasingly seeking and purchasing vitamin D-based nutritional solutions, like dietary supplements, for immunity benefits as a result.
It is especially important to support immunity in the elderly – a vulnerable population group that does not respond to immune challenges, like infection and disease, or vaccinations, as robustly as younger generations. What’s more, as well as being more at risk of impaired immunity, older persons are also more likely to be vitamin D deficient. This is the result of multiple factors, such as reduced exposure to sunlight, being overweight or obese, low appetite and food intake and reduced vitamin D production and absorption.
Supplementation is a cost-effective and accessible way to help older adults achieve optimal vitamin D levels and support both healthy immunity and bone and muscle health. If an individual is at high risk of malnutrition though, specialized medical nutrition products may be considered. The latest guidance from BLV, which is being circulated in an information leaflet, recommends that senior adults – that’s individuals aged 65 years or older – take a daily supplement providing 800 IU (20 mcg) vitamin D, in addition to consuming a well-balanced diet. The BLV is also advising people to get outside frequently for increased exposure to a natural source of vitamin D, and uptake regular physical activity.
This important step forward in Switzerland reflects changes in the nutritional needs and health priorities of the global population and is an indicator that some of the barriers currently preventing government recommendations related to supplements are being broken down in certain parts of the world.
Continuous research and insights are essential to improving global vitamin D status; helping dietary supplement manufacturers understand the needs, challenges and trends that can inspire the creation of innovative and appealing solutions. This takes more than an ingredients provider. This takes a partner.
DSM is spearheading innovation in the immunity field. When you partner with us, you get our broad portfolio of science-backed products – including our vitamin D offering – customized solutions and expert services at every stage of your product’s development process, helping you bring purpose-led immunity solutions to market faster. This includes access to our next generation, market-ready vitamin D solution, ampli-D®. Unlike other vitamin D products, ampli-D® is already in calcidefiol form – a faster and more potent form of vitamin D.
Want to learn more about immunity and the benefits of vitamin D? Check out the latest content from DSM.