By: Talking Nutrition Editors
Watch this exclusive interview with Jim Richards, VP and Science Translation & Advocacy Segment Head at DSM, to explore the latest science-based benefits of vitamin D for immunity and how new ingredients – like calcifediol – are supporting innovation in the vitamin D market.
An effective, fully functioning immune system is essential to help protect the body against infection and disease. Many vitamins and trace minerals are crucial to building a strong immune system and are required for immune cells to function optimally. Vitamin D, especially, has been in the spotlight since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and is well-known to have important benefits for immunity.1 To recap what we know about vitamin D and immune health so far:
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed consumer attitudes towards health and immunity, with many people now taking a more preventative approach to their health as a way of protecting themselves against disease and infection. To understand consumers’ perceptions and attitudes towards immune health and nutrition, DSM conducted a worldwide Global Health Concerns survey in 2021 – interviewing almost 19,000 people across 24 countries.10 It found that 60% of consumers are concerned about their immune health and 65% are more conscious of their immunity following COVID-19. In order to support their immune health needs, people are increasingly making dietary choices – or choosing nutritional solutions – that bring a range of immunity benefits, like vitamin D products. But what is the latest science behind vitamin D and COVID-19?
In a study of more than 190,000 Americans, researchers found that reduced 25(OH)D status was strongly associated with increased risk of a positive COVID-19 PCR test.11 Individuals with deficient 25(OH)D levels had a 54% higher rate of a positive test than those who had adequate levels. Because vitamin D status was measured up to 12 months prior to testing, this suggests that low vitamin D status was a predictor of infection, rather than the result of it.
A 2021 meta-analysis of 54 observational clinical studies representing 1.4 million people provided further strong evidence that low 25(OH)D levels are associated with greater COVID-19 incidence, severity and mortality.12 The authors concluded that serum 25(OH)D levels ‘higher than 75 nmol/L would be required to minimize the clinical burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection’. Using public health records, a study including more than 108,000 people supplemented with vitamin D found that vitamin D intervention has the potential to improve the status of the nutrient in the body and reduce the risk and impact of COVID-19.13
These latest findings reinforce and expand on the science behind vitamin D to help inform and shape public health policies, as well as educate consumers about the benefits of the nutrient. Currently, Professor Philip Calder, Head of Human Development & Health and Professor of Nutritional Immunology within Medicine at the University of Southampton, advises 2,000 IU/day (50 µg/day) vitamin D in the general population (non-infants) to reach a vitamin D status in the blood that is sufficient (≥75 nmol/L) and will help to support immunity.2
Despite its clear benefits, vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency remain highly prevalent worldwide. With the benefits of vitamin D for immunity front of mind following the pandemic, this has led to the development and launch of vitamin D-based nutritional solutions to the market. However, many manufacturers are wondering what’s next when it comes to innovation in the vitamin D space. Most vitamin D products can take months to take effect. Because of this, alternative ingredients and solutions that help to increase vitamin D concentrations more quickly are being explored – like calcifediol.
Calcifediol – also known as calcidiol or 25(OH)D – is the most common form of vitamin D in the human body. It is also the more bioavailable form, allowing it to be better absorbed. This helps elevate optimal vitamin D levels faster – in just a matter of days and weeks – to unlock the benefits of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ more rapidly than vitamin D3.14,15,16 Supplementation with calcifediol therefore represents a safe and effective strategy to reverse vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency faster and more effectively than vitamin D3, supporting immune function and reducing the risk and impact of respiratory tract diseases, like COVID-19.
Want to learn more about the science behind vitamin D, the benefits of calcifediol and how DSM is helping customers innovate with the ingredient? Download our new vitamin D and immunity whitepaper to find out.