The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly hit the nutritional progress of most of the countries across the world. The persistence of the Covid-19 for a longer period has adversely affected the most vulnerable groups of population including adults aged more than 60 years, mothers, and children. Globally, countries are expecting drastic decline in dietary quality in low- and middle-income countries as a result of loss of income, shutdown of businesses, human and goods movement restrictions imposed by governments, de-globalization, and breakdown of food markets due to both demand shocks and supply constraints. Healthcare facilities have been operating out of their limits towards combating Covid-19 and diverting resources from a nutritional care including micronutrient supplementation, prevention and treatment of child malnutrition. In normal times, malnutrition remains a multidimensional problem and during the pandemic situation it has taken a major hit. Thus, global population will be more focused on building higher immunity level during and post-crisis situation.
The Covid-19 crisis has majorly affected the primary diets which demanded fruits, vegetables, and animal-based foods, as main sources of essential micronutrients in the diets. Micronutrients – vitamins and minerals are vital to maintaining health, disease prevention, and well-being. They are not produced in body and are derived from the diet. The six essential micronutrients are Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iodine, Folate, and Zinc. The WHO estimates that more than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency globally. Most of the countries in Europe and Middle East demonstrate widespread inadequacy in the intakes and/or status of vitamin D, vitamin A (retinol), folate and selenium in specific age groups.
The number of undernourished people in the world has been on the rise since 2015, and is back to levels seen in 2010–2011
NOTES: * Values for 2018 are projections as illustrated by empty circles.
The U.S. demonstrates high rates of obesity which makes it significant risk factor for Covid-19 hospitalization. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults was 42.4% in 2017–2018. The prevalence was 40.0% among younger adults aged 20–39, 44.8% among middle-aged adults aged 40–59, and 42.8% among older adults aged 60 and over. There were no significant differences in prevalence by age group (Figure 1).
Among men, the prevalence of obesity was 40.3% among those aged 20–39, 46.4% among those aged 40–59, and 42.2% among those aged 60 and over. Among women, the prevalence of obesity was 39.7% among those aged 20–39, 43.3% among those aged 40–59, and 43.3% among those aged 60 and over. None of the differences by age were significant.
In the U.S, approximately 42% of adults have a BMI over 30, the threshold for obesity, and more than 9 percent are classified as severely obese with a BMI over 40, according to the CDC. People with obesity can have other high-risk health conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes.
New York University’s Langone School of Medicine performed a retrospective analysis of BMI stratified by age in Covid-19-positive symptomatic patients who presented to a large academic hospital system in New York City. Patients who were PCR-positive for Covid-19 during March 4, 2020- April 4, 2020 were extracted from our electronic health record system and analyzed. Though patients aged 30,the BMI range of individuals in this study appears representative of the nation, as 36% of the patients have a BMI >30. There is geographic variation in reported mortality, as South Korea, China and Italy report case fatality rates of 0.8, 2.3 and 7.2, respectivelyand regional risk factors such as prevalence of smoking, pollution or aging population has been cited. Unfortunately, obesity in people <60 years is a newly identified epidemiologic risk factor which may contribute to increased morbidity rates experienced in the U.S.
The Covid-19 economic crisis has also affected the supply chain of nutrition rich foods as they are highly perishable. The government restrictions on movement of goods and people and breakdown in any part of the supply chain – from farmers to traders, processors, distributors, and retailers can break entire supply chain of essential products. Every country is gearing up to offer quicker public food distribution programs to mitigate problems to deliver perishable and non-perishable staples, oils, and pulses towards all income groups. Global lockdowns have resulted into labor shortages, restrictions on logistics, and food security issues.
Global awareness about immune health supplements over a past decade was on rise due to companies efforts on offering such products to cater to changing lifestyle patters, rising chronic illness across the globe, and rising prevalance of infectious diseases. Consumers buying pattern had decent growth in the across the segments of immune health supplements including dietary supplements, superfoods, infant formula, and sports nutrition products. However, this Covid-19 pandemic has resulted these supplements to perform even more strongly as this pandemic has been entirely centered on health, immunity, and disease. Online supplements are further skyrocketing as it helps in social distancing, helping population tune up their immune systems in advent of less nutritional diets. Consumers are ensuring sufficient intake of micronutrients by cinsumption of healhty diets and immune health supplements to become resilient to infection and in general illness. Moreover, the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, seems to bring a huge and permanent shift in consumer buying preferences with a curent surge in demand for immune health supplements to further continue for a longer period.
The online retailers have also put a step forward in focusing their efforts on improving online shopping experience through better online education, and targeted marketing. The overall effort from big retailers like Amazon, its copetitors, and other startups have enhancing their online experience to increase the comfort level of consumers for buying products under health supplements category over internet. Few online portals have live chat options to instantly address specific consumer querries to dissolve previous barriers of online shopping. Both the manufacturers and online retailers are collaboratively offering solutions for building human health immune systems during this pandemic and in future.
Globally, researchers are working together to cater the immunity building supplements during the covid-19 pandemic. Adrian Gombart (Oregon State University) collaborated with researchers at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), the University of Otago (New Zealand) and University Medical Center (The Netherlands) to research about use of immune health supplements to maintian high immunity levels. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acid found in fish, generally known as DHA are critical health supplements for immune function. Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin C also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals. It also helps in reducing severity of upper respiratory tract infections including common cold. It significantly improves symptoms in people with severe infections, including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) resulting from viral infections.
Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. Precisely, Vitamin D influences human response to infections. It enhances the pathogen fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages — white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defense, decreasing inlammation and help promoting immune response.
Researchers urging public health officials to set nutritional recommendations as nutritional levels have been drasticslly reduced due to covid-19 pandemic. Consumption of these supplements will complement the entire nutritional focus on the immune system along with social distancing, handwashing, and vaccines.
“We are pleased with our solid end to the year and strong start to 2020. Ourteam’s execution of our long-term strategic plan, Lifeway 2.0, is demonstratedby the sequential improvement in our sales trends in the fourth quarterresulting in our ability to reinvigorate growth which has accelerated into thefirst quarter of 2020 with net sales expected to be up 2% to 4% year-over-yearincluding a really strong March monthly sales.During this time of shelter-in-place as a result of COVID-19, 40% of Americans are more proactively taking care of their physical and emotional health and 17% are consuming more immunity and overall self-care supporting products such as probiotics and vitamins. Kefir has emerged as a top 2020 consumer choice for gut health and it continues to rise with people becoming increasingly educated on the importance of a healthy, functioning gut and how it can determine consumers overall well-being. Based on a 2017 study from The Nutrition Society the health benefits of fermented milk drinks such as kefir included improved digestion, anti-inflammatory effects and the stimulation of antioxidants which can aid disease prevention. We believe Lifeway is well positioned for long-term growth and value creation with strong industry tailwinds to fuel our business as we increasingly serve consumers looking for more self-care, immunity and gut health options during this time of global health crisis and uncertainty.”
Shaanxi Plant Extract Association, which has over 100 companies, mentions China had come to market standstill due to Covid 19 pandemic. Business started resuming in early march and they are receiving orders from the U.S. and Europe for their immune—boosting plant extracts.
Mead Johnson and Enfamil, valuing their partnership during the Covid 19 pandemic continue to produce safe formulas, vitamins, and products in regards to health and safety of infants and children around the world.
Glanbia Nutritionals' researchers saw online grocery ordering with in-person pickup increase from 12.3 percent to 14.1 percent, while online ordering with home-delivery rose from 7 percent to 11 percent. This shift hints at consumers’ growing efforts to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 by adjusting their shopping habits and rising preferencce for nutritional products.
“Sale of vitamin C dietary supplements on the Chinese e-commerce giant JD Singapore supermarket chain Fairprice and Chinese e-commerce giantincreased five-fold in advent of Covid -19 pandemic in the month of February’20. The virus outbreak was the cause of the surge consumption, and its higher online sales was attributed to consumers preferring to order delivery online.”
Sales of immune-boosting products such as vitamin C, curcumin, zinc, selenium, detox lungs, and probiotics products have been growing since the Covid outbreak. We are trying to raise awareness in the public, through the digital and social media, giving them the information on what to do to avoid the infection to virus. We are utilizing influencers and nutritionists to write about the importance of the nutrients for the stronger immunity and anti-viral purposes.
GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritizing actions in its supply chain to deliver more products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum.
“In February, DSM shipped 50 tons of Vitamin C from its Jiangshan site in China to Hubei province to help fight the outbreak. Our Scotland plant has been producing Vitamin C regularly and during the outbreak it has also received strong demand for Vitamin C products.”
Source: Company Websites, Magazines, Nutrition Journals, Portals
Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the global population and economy. A collaborative effort on governments, public health departments, and hospital fraternity to fight the coronavirus has led to economic slowdowns, global lockdowns, and extreme public safety measures. The public health measures including creating awareness about home quarantine measuring, maintaining food and healthcare supply, especially to the poor are being strictly followed by governments across the world. During this pandemic situation, public awareness about maintaining high immunity levels have become a serious concern. Majority of the global population have been changing their buying preferences to online or localized buying of food products to maintain healthy diets as well as increased purchase of immune health supplements to meet the nutritional needs to maintain high immunity levels. Many researchers and health supplement manufacturers are urging governments to build awareness about consumption of health supplements. They are also encouraging the population to consume health supplements for self-precaution to fight the Covid-19 situation and continue to maintain their immunity levels at higher rates to immune themselves from such infectious diseases in future. Thus, the global immune health supplements market will mark sudden surges during the Covid-19 pandemic and is projected to significantly grow over a long period due to permanent changes in consumer buying behavior of health-related products witnessed globally.