The Immune Boom

Experts note that the surging market will be flooded with products, and having science-backed claims and quality assurance will be essential as consumers make purchasing decisions. Here’s what you need to know.

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As COVID-19 remains a top concern, demand for immune support supplements continues to increase—the category is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.8% over the forecast period 2020-2027 and to hit $22.5 billion globally (1). “The global pandemic has raised the awareness of good health and the importance of nutrition and dietary supplements, beyond our imagination,” says Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, Sr. Director of R&D/National Educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition. “Bluebonnet sales for zinc, selenium, vitamins A and D, botanicals like olive leaf and elderberry, as well as immune support formulas, have all increased, some as much as 845% compared to last year’s sales.”

Audra Dunleavy, VP of Sales, Natural Path Silver Wings, reports similar: “We experienced a three-digit growth spurt over the last seven months of this pandemic. Nothing compares to this demand, in our 26 years of manufacturing colloidal silver. Sales exceeded production, putting many SKUs out of stock until double shifts were added to catch up to the thousands of back orders.”

COVID-19 has brought “unprecedented demand and interest in immune health,” agrees Thomas Li, Business Development Manager at IFF Health, representing Frutarom, part of the IFF family. He notes that double digit growth is continuing to be projected far beyond 2020. “That in turn has led to studies looking at the correlation between certain ingredients and COVID, such as a recent one around vitamin D deficiency (2). With the pandemic ongoing, we should expect to see more of these studies coming out, driving more demand for specific immune ingredients.”

A takeaway from Paul Schulick, Founder and Formulator of For the Biome: “The opportunity in immune is not going unnoticed. The market is going to be flooded with products, and having science-backed claims and quality assurance will be paramount as consumers are making purchasing decisions.” He also warns that “more time at home and the shift to online purchases also means that a lot of the marketing and education that happened in brick-and-mortar store aisles will now need to take place digitally.”

Brands are helping with that: “Our team has had to make strides in connecting with retailers and consumers alike, virtually and digitally,” explained Sugarek MacDonald. “By flexing our marketing and education muscles, we helped train retailers and staff effectively, enhanced our brand content strategically, and connected with our customers personally. Dolly Parton once said, ‘If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.’ There is no doubt that COVID has dramatically changed how we live, work, educate, buy, connect, and worship, but we at Bluebonnet have adapted.” Savvy retailers are doing the same, keeping social media up to date, sharing educational materials from brands, and maintaining an active online presence to ensure that customers spending more time at home don’t forget why natural products retailers are their go-to.

Marketing Changes

How to market to this immune-focused population? Hank Cheatham, VP Marketing & Sales, shares his experience: “Marketers have elevated advertising and promotional activity to promote immune health and to educate the consumer that one’s own immune system is the best defense against viruses and other pathogens such as COVID-19: Increasing the white blood cell activity and count will provide the body with enhanced immunity against all invading cells.”

However, Li notes that marketing has gotten more difficult due to COVID: “FDA has come down hard on any product claims regarding COVID-19.”

Dunleavy agreed, telling WholeFoods: “During the pandemic, marketing messaging from immune supplement manufacturers have been—and still are—closely scrutinized by the FDA to ensure that the messaging is not crossing the line or making claims about any direct effects on the virus. Some new marketing messages are themed around long-term immune support, such as Silver Wings’ colloidal silver now being emphasized as a year-round supplement, rather than only seasonal.”

And the team at Norm’s Farms has a totally different take—that not much has changed in marketing at all: “Even before COVID, the immune health market was growing by double digits year over year. The public’s interest in and knowledge of elderberry and other natural immune support products was steadily increasing. COVID took this naturally occurring trajectory and compacted it into a shorter timeframe, that’s all. So our marketing strategy hasn’t changed, it’s only grown in order to attract the emerging set of customers to our brand.”

NOW’s Neil Levin seconds that—and doubles down on it. “We’ve all seen studies reporting the use of nutrients related to the risks of COVID-19. NOW will not make claims based on those studies. We do discuss the use of multivitamins, mushrooms, beta-glucans, herbs, and botanicals in terms of their potential roles in supporting normal immunity, but the current body of evidence does not support direct COVID claims for supplements, just general immunity support.”

Popular Picks

Here, a refresher of the supplements the experts say customers are looking for now, and can discuss with their healthcare providers:

Aloe Vera. Known best, possibly, for its place in skin care, this botanical also has a place in immune health: “Our aloe products are clinically proven to support an increase in white blood cells, an important line of defense for your immune system,” says Jack Brown, VP of Sales and Marketing at Lily of the Desert. “It’s also clinically shown to help increase nutrient absorption, making it an ideal companion to any supplements customers are using.”

Andrographis. “The entire herb possesses various health-supporting activities,” says Sugarek MacDonald. “It has been shown in the literature and throughout history to possess special pharmacological activities like anti-platelet, anti-hyperglycemic, analgesic, antithrombotic, thrombolytic, antipyretic, and antibacterial properties.” She notes that it was credited with stopping the spread of the flu in 1918 in India.

Neil Levin, CCN, DANLA, Senior Nutrition Education Manager for NOW, too, mentioned Andrographis. “NOW Air Defense is a curated formulation of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids that support healthy immune function and respiratory function. Air Defense contains Paractin, a patented extract of Andrographis paniculata. Studies have shown that Paractin helps to support a healthy and balanced immune response.” For more on Paractin—and the studies backing it—go to www.HPIngredients.com or go to www.WholeFoodsMagazine.com and search ‘Paractin’ to hear Annie Eng, HPI CEO, review the research.

Astragalus. “Astragalus is commonly used as a general tonic for those practicing Chinese herbal medicine, specifically for the maintenance and enhancement of immune health,” Sugarek MagDonald explains. “Most of the clinical research on astragalus has focused on its immunomodulating activity and its seemingly remarkable ability to revitalize a suppressed immune system’s activity.”

Curcumin. A popular ingredient generally speaking, curcumin may play a role in immune health. “Curcumin has been extensively studied for its health benefits,” says Nena Dockery, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Stratum Nutrition, “mostly related to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics.” She warns that because of high demand, curcumin is subject to adulteration.

Sabinsa has its eye on curcumin; Dr. Muhammed Majeed, Founder and Chairman of Sabinsa, was part of a team of researchers who wrote a paper considering the potential effects of curcumin on COVID-19 (3). The paper was published in Phytotherapy Research in May, and was intended to provide a basis for “further research and development of clinical applications of curcumin” with respect to COVID, according to the study.

Echinacea. Levin notes that there’s much to be aware of when searching for echinacea products to stock: “The great variety of products—and the fact that the strength of active compounds can vary based on part of the plant used, environmental factors, and processing variations—makes it difficult to legitimately compare and combine studies in reviews and meta-analysis. But many users rely on the efficacy of echinacea products, both singly and in combination with complementary immune-supporting nutrients.”

One option: IFF Health offers Echinacea EFLA 894, which uses cold pressed juice from the aerial parts. “It has been shown to help against symptoms of colds and the flu, as well as boosting immunological function,” Li says. He notes that it has been shown to have synergistic effects with another IFF ingredient, Pelargonium EFLA 956, which he says may help with throat, nose, and bronchial irritations.

Elderberry. “This COVID era has brought about a new wave of awareness and demand for black elderberry,” said Melanie Bush, Chief Science Director at Artemis International. “With a long-standing history of use as well as human clinicals demonstrating its antiviral benefits, particularly with respiratory viruses like influenza and colds, European black elderberry can definitely be considered one of the hottest products in the ever-growing immune health category this year.” Bush explains that the ElderCraft brand is standardized to consistent levels of the active anthocyanins, and was used in a large 2016 human clinical trial. She also notes that elderberry is under some stress: “Due to inclement weather conditions causing a lower-than-usual harvest as well as the current high demand for Black Elderberry within supplement and functional food industries, the supply of authentic European Black Elderberry is strained for the upcoming 2021 year. Formulators are starting to seek out other high-anthocyanin berries with preliminary antiviral/immune-support properties like aronia berry (also known as chokeberry) and even black currant as possible adjuncts for immune formulas. Artemis International has also seen increased interest in its blend of high-anthocyanin berries formulated for immune support.”

Nor is Artemis the only company seeing increased demand: Back in July, INS Farms reported “a big increase in business” and significant interest from companies looking to launch new elderberry products (4). His advice to those companies: “Start by working with the growers; traceability is so important here.” INS is involved from the growth of the berries to the processing, and Tru-ID certifies its Elder Pure product.

There are plenty of elderberry products out there. Besides the products containing Artemis’ ElderCraft, NOW sells ElderMune capsules containing ElderMune and Sunfiber, a prebiotic fiber; Gaia Herbs makes a black elderberry syrup, as well as capsules and gummies; Sambucol offers elderberry in every form, from drinks to pastilles; and ChildLife offers Elderberry Super-Immune SoftMelts, containing 50mg elderberry fruit powder and 50mg Wellmune Baker’s Yeast per tablet. It is free of sugar, gluten, and artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.

Quality Control

These days, with supply chain issues running rampant, less scrupulous suppliers and companies may be looking to get products into consumers’ hands at all costs—making it all the more important to stock respectable brands. Nena Dockery, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Stratum Nutrition, offered this take: “Ideally, our standard processes should be of such high quality that we do not need to make changes to meet the 2020 consumer.”

“It may come as no surprise that the sudden increase in popularity and demand of immune products like black elderberry has resulted in an influx of adulteration as well,” said Bush. “The focus on educating about the immunomodulating and antiviral benefits of black elderberry has evolved into education needs that are centered around how to source authentic and high-quality products.”

Speaking of high-quality products, that’s something else worth checking into. Materials provided by Norm’s Farms specify: “We test all our products for polyphenols and anthocyanins—the nutrients that give elderberry its immune-boosting qualities—through USP Monograph quality standards. These high standards take a look at the identity, strength, purity, and performance of our ingredients. In addition, we also have every Norm’s Farms product TruID tested for elderberry authenticity. It’s just another way we make sure we’re delivering quality product to the consumer. It’s a matter of principle and honesty, and it’s the foundation Norm’s Farms is built on.”

For the Biome’s Schulick seconds that: “Ethics and purity are pillars of our business, so we source based on a belief we call ‘R.O.S.E.S.’—each ingredient must be reliable, organic, sustainable, ethical, and safe. We test for key nutrient markers and validate the ID of our botanical ingredients with a third-party lab to ensure our customers are getting a high-quality product that works.”

NOW’s Levin says that, while it adds to the delay, quality control is what keeps customers coming back. “Even when raw materials do come in and products are made, we need time to do the extensive testing on them before Quality Control will release the products for sale. Every raw material is tested for a wide range of appropriate factors, which include microbial detection and quantification, heavy metals, identity, purity, active compounds claimed on product labels, physical characteristics, and any known or suspected contaminants and adulterants found in those particular raw materials. Our good customers know that we do this and rely on our stringent quality controls to protect them.”

Olives. Like echinacea, immune health support can come from several parts of this particular plant. Oliphenol uses an extract from the juice, active ingredient hydroxytyrosol, branded as Hidrox. Materials provided by the company note that “Researchers have discovered that ‘hydroxytyrosol’ has the highest value of antioxidant capacity ever measured.’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently shared that reducing stress is a key factor in supporting a healthy immune system. Recent studies on Hidrox have demonstrated it also has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, suggesting it could be a promising approach to reducing oxidative stress.” The company’s goal: “educating the consumer on the power of the olive and the Mediterranean diet and how they are linked to immunity.” And now is the time—the company notes that “a major change has been the increase in brand awareness for other types of immune supplements, not just vitamins C, D, and E—consumers are becoming active in researching and educating themselves on alternative ways to support and boost the immune system.”

Levin says that NOW uses extract from the olive leaf: “It’s commonly used for immune support—with a less well-known benefit for cardiovascular health—but is best known for its potent oleuropein glucosides and active polyphenols, which are free radical fighters.”

Immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are antibodies, according to Just Thrive’s website, which calls them the body’s “frontline soldiers” against antigens ranging from viruses to environmental toxins. Just Thrive offers Ultimate IgG, which contains Immunoglobulins G, M, and A, to help the immune system react properly without overreacting.

Another immunoglobulin offering: Daiwa’s IgY Max, which Hank Cheatham, VP Marketing & Sales, says is “proven to target optimal gut health by inhibiting non-beneficial bacteria from adhering to the stomach wall lining. This process promotes mucosal immunity and manages inflammation.”

Mushrooms. A broad category, maybe, but according to Mark Kaylor, Consultant with Mushroom Wisdom and Founder of the non-profit Radiant Health Project, “there are actually hundreds of mushrooms that research has found support immune health and function, including all the common mushrooms sold as supplements. They often bring holistic benefits with them that make them relevant to key systems and organs under challenge today. One example would be Coriolus versicolor, commonly known as Turkey Tail. It boosts immune health, encourages the removal of damp—i.e. mucus, phlegm—from the body, demonstrates anti-microbial activity, and supports healthy liver function. Another example is Cordyceps, long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This tonic strengthens and improves functions of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune system, all while supporting kidney function and boosting antioxidant levels.”

Kaylor also points to reishi: “Reishi supports the heart, lungs, and liver, while acting as an immunomodulator, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent. It may also offer some relief from what appears to be the growing epidemic of anxiety, one that has only been exasperated by the current crisis.”

Omega-3. While known best for its heart health support, Cheatham says it fits in immune health, too. “Resolvins are specialized pro-mediators derived from omega-3 fatty acids, primarily EPA and DHA. They stimulate macrophage-mediated clearance of debris and counter pro-inflammatory cytokine production resolution. Omega-3s exhibit antiviral activity, mainly from influenza, without being immunosuppressive. Resolvins are shown to promote anti-viral B cell antibodies and lymphocyte activity.” Daiwa offers Krill Oil and Super Krill Oil, both sources of EPA and DHA.

Another brand offering krill oil: Aker BioMarine, which offers Superba Krill, which contains omega-3s along with choline, phospholipids, and astaxanthin, according to the company’s website.

PEA. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is an endogenous fatty acid amide, and the main ingredient in a new product from CV Sciences. “Research indicated that PEA, an endocannabinoid-like compound, has powerful immune enhancing effects with significant research showing benefits,” says Duffy MacKay, ND, SVP of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, CV Sciences. “There are hundreds of independent scientific studies done on PEA demonstrating benefits to respiratory immune health and inflammation.” Their daily immune formula contains PEA, vitamins A and D, zinc, selenium, and organic reishi extract.

Postbiotics. Postbiotics result from fermenting bacteria in a culture medium—they’re nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, according to Essential Formulas’ website. Essential Formulas sells Dr. Ohhira’s brand probiotics, which contain the postbiotic metabolites of the probiotics in the formula.

While postbiotic metabolites may consist of nutrients that can help support the immune system, Cargill’s EpiCor is intended specifically for immune support. This whole food fermentate is clinically shown to support the immune system and to modulate the gut microbiota, according to Cashtyn Lovan, Senior Marketing Associate, Cargill Health Technologies. “It’s made through a natural, proprietary process that creates a unique fingerprint of metabolites. More than a dozen published studies support its health benefits. It’s part of the emerging group of postbiotic ingredients, which are starting to catch consumers’ eyes.” She explains that it can be used in foods and beverages, as well as taken as a pill.

Probiotics. With upwards of 70% of the immune system contained in the gut, it should come as no surprise that probiotics will turn up. Enzymedica offers a two-in-one formula—Digest+Probiotics—which, according to the company’s website, contains “a daily dose of 1.2 billion probiotic cultures [to] support immune health” as well as digestive health. For children, ChildLife offers LiveBiotics, containing a proprietary blend of 4 probiotic strains formulated for digestive, respiratory, and immune support. The chewable tablets are berry-flavored.

Protein. “Our immune system itself is made of proteins,” explains Dr. Andrew Abraham, Founder and CEO of Orgain. “So when we consume proteins, we are getting those really high quality amino acids in our diet. That’s essential for maintaining our immune system and cell structure.” For those already using protein shakes, Dr. Abraham points to the benefits of a nutrition shake containing vitamins B6, C, and D, as well as zinc and protein: “By educating the consumer on the immunity benefits already found in their daily protein smoothie, we hopefully become an easy, natural part of their routine. We aim to show that simple daily choices give consumers the opportunity to reap the most benefits.” Orgain makes products including Proteins and Greens Protein Powder and Protein and Superfoods Protein Powder, so that those looking for a protein boost can get an immunity boost as well.

Silver. Silver has been used for more than 2,000 years to support immune health, according to Sovereign Silver’s website. The company provides silver as a topical gel, a nasal spray, or as a dropper—and they make a kids’ version and a pet version, as well, to provide support for the whole family.

And consumers are seeking it out: Silver Wings’ Dunleavy notes that high-strength colloidal silver has been in demand: “While 50 PPM provides strong immune support, research shows that the 250 PPM and 500 PPM extra strength bottle sales have been very popular recently.”

Vitamin C. Back in June, at the virtual event “Taking Control of the Immunity and Wellness Market,” James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., Director of Scientific Affairs at AIDP, explained that vitamin C causes a dose-dependent response in reduction of cold symptoms. His general suggestions: While it takes 10mg per day to prevent scurvy, “it takes more to see actual benefits”; and it should be taken multiple times over the course of the day—“we don’t drink all our water in one sip, we don’t breathe all our air in one inhale, and in order to maintain the proper levels of zinc and vitamin C, we have to dose it right and take it regularly” (5).

And vitamin C isn’t just useful for the common cold—Richard Passwater, Ph.D., explained in a Vitamin Connection column back in March that the immune system requires vitamin C to function properly, noting that the more stress the immune system is under, the more vitamin C it needs: “In the clinic, it appears, based on dramatic successful case studies… a steady supply of higher levels of vitamin C allowing immune cells to sustain optimal function during the battle against invaders and through recovery” (6). While there isn’t enough space in this article to go into detail, check out the Vitamin Connection column on www.WholeFoodsMagazine.com, or in your March print edition, to read Dr. Passwater’s in-depth explanation.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is getting a lot of press these days, thanks to studies linking vitamin D sufficiency to better COVID outcomes (7, 8). Sugarek MacDonald explains how it works: “It helps to activate macrophages, which are immune system cells that destroy foreign invaders. Additionally, in the presence of certain infections, lung epithelial cells can convert the body’s stores of inactive vitamin D to active vitamin D, which in turn produces an increased amount of cathelicidin, a peptide that is important for cell-mediated immunity.” She notes that vitamin D supplements are vital; many Americans are deficient, due to staying indoors, use of sunscreen, and poor diet.

A note from Dr. Edward Group, Founder of Global Healing: D3 is more effective than D2 (9). “D3… is the most biologically active form of vitamin D found in humans and animals,” he writes on his website. “This form is involved in a multitude of biological processes and is crucial for promoting calcium absorption in the bones.” He writes that while both forms offer benefits, D3 is “more readily absorbed and utilized by the human body.”

Zinc. Zinc works with superoxide dismutase (SOD) to elicit an antioxidant effect in the body, Sugarek MacDonald explains. Zinc deficiency prevents T cells and other immune cells from functioning as they should. ChildLife Nutrition offers Zinc Plus, a mango strawberry-flavored liquid supplement containing zinc and copper.

Nasal Spray

While much of immune health focuses on supplements, it’s also important to remember basic hygiene—handwashing, hand sanitizer, washing masks, and so on. Part of that is nasal hygiene. The sinuses work to keep bacteria out of the body, but they can’t do that if they aren’t clean and moist. One option: Xlear, which uses xylitol to clean and hydrate the nasal passages. Xlear’s website explains that xylitol works against bacterial colonies, and features a study showing that xylitol can minimize bacterial adhesion within the sinuses.

The Importance of Scientific Backing

It’s more important than ever to have scientific proof of efficacy—and to be able to share it, because consumers want to see that backing: “We’re seeing consumers that are increasingly intellectual and willing to dig into the science,” says Schulick, “so it’s important to provide that.” For the Biome offers three new products: Immune Therapy, Stress Therapy, and Gut Therapy, which Schulick says are “designed to support a wiser immune system” by targeting specific biomarkers to nourish the gut microbiome, nervous system, gut-lung axis, and gut-brain axis, and thereby balance the immune system. And the company is putting in the work consumers want to see: “We have invested heavily to conduct cellular and clinical studies that we will share with our audience as they are completed.”

“Legitimate natural products have science to substantiate their claims,” Cheatham agrees. “To avoid scams, the wise consumer reviews the research before investing in or using a natural product. Consumers should also check the label of dietary supplements to confirm that the products have been produced in GMP certified facilities meeting FDA guidelines for quality control.” And of course, consumers should give their business to a retailer who vets the products for them.

This information can be delivered in many ways. As mentioned earlier, Annie Eng, CEO of HP Ingredients, has created a video in which she covers the research behind Andrographis; CV Sciences offers on their website a white paper with over 60 references outlining the benefits of the TCM herbal formula on which their CV Acute product is based. “Extensive research led us to a time-tested three herb formula that has been used by Chinese physicians for decades when faced with similar global immune threats,” Dr. MacKay explains. “CV Acute contains forsythia fruit, honeysuckle flower, and Chinese skullcap root.”

Daiwa, too, is a firm believer in the importance of science: “PeakImmune4 is a well-researched product produced with Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound (RBAC),” Cheatham says. “It has been shown in scientific research studies to more than triple Natural Killer cell activity, if required—but will not overstimulate the immune response. Instead, it brings the immune system to its optimal level. The active ingredient has been tested in over 40 published clinical trials and other research studies. It has a proven ability to enhance leukocytes such as T and B cells, and is proven to be safe and non-toxic.”

Stratum takes pride in their science, too—so they make it available: “Another way in which Stratum excels at transparency is the ease at which research on our ingredients can be reviewed and scrutinized,” Dockery says. “Research transparency is very important at Stratum and the published research on NEM is all open-access and readily available for anyone to review.  Research on the ingredients we distribute is either open-access or available upon request.”

Sovereign Silver does the same: All their research is linked on their website, although it requires registration.

Wellness

“At Bluebonnet, wellness is about freedom,” Sugarek MacDonald says. “It is freedom from the yearly onslaughts that can lead to feeling run down, fatigued, achy, out of breath, and much more. As you begin to feel run down, nourishing your body with vitamins, minerals, and herbs from the garden, you can optimize your chances of staying healthy. Bluebonnet’s Targeted Choice Wellness Support Caplets & JustBreathe Capsules support your body’s immune system and its natural defense mechanisms, as well as provide the natural tools your body needs to feel better, stronger, and breathe more freely.”

Other recommendations Sugarek MacDonald makes:

  • Exercising often
  • Getting consistent and adequate sleep (8 hours)
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Listening to your body
  • Meditating daily
  • Learning to recognize early signs of illness
  • Eating breakfast
  • Eating a variety of healthy foods
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking

Supply Chain Troubles—And Solutions 

It’s no secret that supply chains have been disrupted by COVID-19, resulting in empty shelves and unavailable products, particularly in the immune health supplement categories. “The more scrupulous companies—like NOW—that require audits of new vendors before purchasing raw materials from them are in a difficult situation where we can’t quickly qualify new suppliers due to travel bans, quarantines, work stoppages related to the pandemic, and shipping slowdowns,” Levin explains. “This makes our work much harder as we struggle to meet the dramatically increased demand for hundreds of our products and try to significantly ramp up production without compromising on quality and safety.”

Empty shelves, however, create problems for customers—and opportunities for less scrupulous companies. “With supply for some ingredients not being able to keep up with demand, this also means greater adulteration of ingredients such as elderberry and echinacea,” Li warns. “IFF Health takes pride in the strict testing and manufacturing of the immune ingredients out of our European sites and as a global operation, we have been able to adapt to the fluid situation around the world and maintain transparency with our supply chain.”

Another answer to supply chain troubles: “Being a vertically integrated company allows us to ensure quality in each step of the manufacturing process,” says Lily of the Desert’s Brown, “so there is no risk of adulteration of products.”

The team at Norm’s Farms agrees. “We’re a vertically integrated company. We have our own farms in the United States, and work directly with all our farm partners. We grow our own elderberries, we manufacture our own value-added products, and we build long-lasting partnerships with companies that think and operate in the same way. And we conduct third party testing on all our products for authenticity and purity, holding them to the highest of standards. We’ve done it this way from the get-go because it ensures we have complete transparency in our supply chain and ensures that our customers are receiving legitimate, quality elderberry products.”

Even if a company isn’t vertically integrated, it’s important to know that a company is involved with their supply chain: “Because Mushroom Wisdom is involved from the growing stages of their mushrooms all the way through to finished products with multiple tests by their in-house lab along with third party independent testing,” Kaylor says, “retailers and consumers can feel confident and comfortable knowing that they are getting exactly what is on the label.”

And depending on the product, it may—even during a pandemic—be a non-issue: PeakImmune4, Cheatham says, has been spared supply chain troubles. “Daiwa produces RBAC exclusively and is therefore able to guarantee quality, forecast inventory requirements, increase production, and avoid out-of-stocks, adulterations, and other supply chain disruptions.”

Keep this information on-hand—it will be important far beyond cold-and-flu season. As Dunleavy notes, “Our lives have changed over the last seven months. People are becoming more proactive. It’s now more imperative than ever to maintain a strong immune system. COVID-19 has ignited a new reality: that people will be budgeting to include now year-round immune protection.” WF

References

  1. “Immune Health Supplements—Global Market Trajectory & Analytics.” Research And Markets. Posted 07/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5030015/immune-health-supplements-global-market#pos-0
  2. WholeFoods Magazine Staff, “Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to COVID-19,” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 09/9/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/supplements/news-supplements/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-covid-19/
  3. Fatemeh Zahedipour et al., “Potential effects of curcumin in the treatment of COVID-19 infection,” Phytotherapy Research. Published 05/19/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ptr.6738
  4. WholeFoods Magazine Staff, “INS Farms: Focus on Quality Elderberry, Supporting U.S. Jobs,” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 07/20/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/news/ins-farms-quality-elderberry-supporting-us-jbs/
  5. Julia Peterman, “#Naturally Informed: Immune Health Supplement Education.” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 06/22/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/supplements/news-supplements/immune-health-supplement-education-from-naturally-informed/
  6. Richard A. Passwater, “Vitamin C and the Immune System: Nutritional Fortification to Support Defenses Against Viruses.” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 03/12/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/vitamin-connection/vitamin-c-and-the-immune-system-nutritional-fortification-to-support-defenses-against-viruses/
  7. WholeFoods Magazine Staff, “Vitamin D Sufficiency Linked with Better COVID-19 Outcomes.” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 09/28/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/supplements/news-supplements/vitamin-d-sufficiency-linked-with-better-covid-19-outcomes/
  8. WholeFoods Magazine Staff, “Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to COVID-19.” WholeFoods Magazine. Posted 09/9/2020. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/supplements/news-supplements/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-covid-19/
  9. Edward Group, “Vitamin D3 vs. Vitamin D2—What’s the Difference?” GlobalHealing.com. Posted 06/9/2014. Accessed 10/1/2020. https://globalhealing.com/natural-health/vitamin-d3-vs-vitamin-d2/

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