Vitamin D supplements under threat from functional foods: Euromonitor

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin d supplements, Vitamin d

Single vitamin D supplements will retain a (shrunken) place on the shelves: Euromonitor
Single vitamin D supplements will retain a (shrunken) place on the shelves: Euromonitor
Functional foods, multivitamins and fish oil are an increasing threat to single vitamin D supplements, as consumers seek to understand the controversy in vitamin D recommendations, says an analyst from Euromonitor.

The potential health benefits of vitamin D, from muscle development to bone health, from potential anti-cancer activity to reduced risks of heart disease, have been making headlines and occupying column inches for several years.

As the science has developed, leading researchers in the field have called for significant increases in national recommendations. Only recently, the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently announced updated Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D that tripled the recommended daily allowance across all groups, except those over 50 years of age, for whom the updated allowance increased by 200 IU. Upper intake levels were also raised for all groups.

However, according to an Analyst Insight​ by Monica Feldman, available here​, the “conflicting information on the benefits of vitamin D has led to confusion among the medical community and consumers, who found it difficult to know how much vitamin D they should be taking”​.

As such, Feldman asks the question, is the market for vitamin D supplements at risk of decline?

“A number of recent studies on vitamin D deficiency published in the last decade fueled significant sales of vitamin D supplements,” ​states Feldman. “[However], vitamin D supplements see rising competition from fortified foods and other supplements such as fish oils and multivitamins.”

The applications

Renowned vitamin D researcher, Michael Holick PhD, MD, Professor of Medicine at Boston University Medical Center, recently told NutraIngredients-USA.com​ that the most realistic approach to boosting the nation’s intake of vitamin D is for food manufacturers to increase the dose of vitamin D per serving.

Dr Holick noted that milk is already fortified with vitamin D, as are some yogurt. Dr Holick himself led a recent study funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, a division of Coca-Cola North America, into the efficacy of fortified orange juice to raise vitamin D levels (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​, 2010, Vol. 91, pp. 1621-1626​).

Lallemand/American Yeast has also been building the science to support the use of its vitamin D2-rich yeast for the production of fortified bread. Indeed, a recent study found that vitamin D-deficient rats fed bread made with vitamin D2-rich yeast experienced the same improvements in bone mineral content and bone mineral density as rats fed bread formulated with vitamin D3 (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​, 2011, Vol. 59, pp 2341-2346​).

Dr Holick is looking for more of the same: “The issue is can we expand the number of foods that are fortified with vitamin D,”​ he added.

Back to Feldman, who says that the rise of functional foods will not eradicate the single vitamin D supplement market: “Moving forward, the recent reports on vitamin D intake will not make single vitamin D supplements disappear from the shelves. People with a medical deficiency and those faithful to the vitamin craze will support future sales.”

Data on D

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. The former is produced in the skin on exposure to UVB radiation (290 to 320 nm). The latter is derived from plants and only enters the body via the diet.

Both D3 and D2 precursors are hydroxylated in the liver and kidneys to form 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.

In adults, vitamin D deficiency may precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

While our bodies do manufacture vitamin D on exposure to sunshine, the levels in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that our body makes no vitamin D at all, meaning that dietary supplements and fortified foods are seen by many as the best way to boost intakes of vitamin D.

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11 comments

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Vitamin D

Posted by Harry,

Utilisation of Vitamins? Must not contain Preservatives Synthetics or GM products. ADDED Citrus or picolinates may convert to female health benefit only.

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Vitamin D Intake?

Posted by Harry,

Many people cannot take Vitamin D in oils? They convert it to LDL. They may also be allergic to milk or find sugar in fruit drinks causes high blood sugar and preservative re-actions. Have limited benefit from bread due to weight gain? For them the only intake available is Vitamine D suppliments.

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Vit D still underdosed

Posted by james severa md,

As a physician who even checks every family member i can of my patients seeing me in my office, i see my patients usually underdosed by my fellow doctors. i have found dr cannell's recommendations to be the most realistic for obtaining solid clinical results. most men and women will tell me they feel better in one or two monthes with 1000 iu d3 per 25 lb daily po. i speak from nebraska where we have about 5-6 monthes of noonday sun actually able to make vit d on our exposed skin if it's not covered in sun screen. otherwise it takes at least two 50000 iu vit d2 gells per week for the average overweight adult. and yes i have found vit d deficiency in even a patient's 4 month old and in some 18 month old children showing serious behaviolal disturbance that improved with solid dosing of vit d along with also correcting defcient b12 levels. reading "the vit d theory of autism" hypothesis by dr cannell will make you wonder what we physicians may have done to our children by pushing to much sunscreen. i continue to recommend 2000iu to 3000iu for all my child patients who test low. for the infants i suggest 400iu to 800iu to parents and wonder if the pediatrician will reinforce this or not. i'm told it would take one hundred quarts of vit d2 fortified milk a week to take care of an adult's vit d needs. our children aren't likely to get enough vit d without supplements unless they're out in the sun a lot.

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