Pandemic will boost vitamins C & D, zinc and ALA in 2021, retailer says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - monticello
©Getty Images - monticello

Related tags Vitamin d deficiency vitamin d fortification Vitamin d intake Vitamin d levels Vitamin d supplementation Vitamin c Vitamin c intake Zinc deficiency Zinc alpha-lipoic acid

Supplement and organic foods retailer Natural Grocers said a continued emphasis on vitamin D, immune support and blood sugar management will lead industry trends in 2021.

The company recently issued its ‘top 10’ trends for 2021.  As the company looks into its crystal ball, the continued importance of vitamin D emerged front and center among those trends specific to supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency has been a topic among health care professionals for years.  This essential nutrient is manufactured in the skin as a result of UV exposure.  A combination of indoor living, sedentary lifestyle and other factors conspired to make vitamin D deficiency common among populations of industrialized countries. 

No one gets enough vitamin D

Vitamin D fortification in milk and other foods stamped out rickets, a deficiency disease affecting bone development, but it has not brought people up to a level of the vitamin that supports maximal health.  As an easy way to test for 25-hydoxyvitamin D in the blood became available, the levels of deficiency become evident.  This led many health experts to recommend higher intakes that the official recommendations, which at 600 IU a day for adults.

Now, with emerging evidence that people with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood streams fare better when battling COVID-19, the vitamin has achieved even greater recognition. And that emphasis is like to last, said Shelby Miller, Natural Grocers’ manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education.

"Our trends this year are dramatically different than previous years' in that they're far less fleeting. COVID-19 is a pandemic that sits on top of another pandemic in the United States of malnutrition and poor long-term health,"​ she said.

Natural Grocers noted that few Americans get enough vitamin D.

“This unique nutrient plays a critical role in whether or not your immune system functions sufficiently and responds as needed. It is essential for lung health, supporting positive moods, brain function, and cognition, a healthy weight, a healthy pregnancy, children's health, healthy blood sugar levels, healthy blood pressure, bone health, and muscle tone. Between 40% and 80 %of American adults are outright deficient in vitamin D, while approximately 90% have suboptimal levels,”​ the company said.

In addition, this deficiency is particularly acute among people of color.  The company noted that a national survey reported average serum vitamin D concentrations of 28.1 ng/mL, 21.6 ng/mL, and 16.9 ng/mL in Caucasian, Mexican American, and African American adults aged 20 years and older, respectively.  Health care experts advise that 30 ng/mL is a minimal level to shoot for, and many experts say levels above 50 nm/mL are optimal for best health.

Dire pandemic news will boost Vitamin C, zinc and ALA

The pandemic news continues to be dire. In just the past couple of days daily death totals in the United States started to set new records, passing the levels seen in the first wave of infections in May. Natural Grocers said this will continue to shore up the demand in the coming year for vitamin C and zinc in immune support products.

Another way the pandemic is affecting demand is through emerging evidence that patients with diabetes may be at heightened risk from the disease. One ingredient the company said might benefit is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which is known to support insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization.

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