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Essential collaboration needed between industry and public healthcare

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Immune health experts are actively churning out new research and innovative solutions, but there is need for further intervention from public health and government bodies to heighten awareness.

Awareness for immune health is growing and will turn into a priority for industry and consumers alike as this pandemic has paved the way for long-term attention. The future direction of nutrition research may well be in the field of non-communicable diseases, healthy ageing and preventative solutions for at-risk population groups. 

Consumer demand has quickly increased sales of immunity supplements and products in light of COVID-19. Experts have long advised taking a multivitamin mineral supplement to fill the existing nutrition gap, as well as a higher intake of vitamin C and D, compared to conventional recommendations, to support a strong immune system. Additionally, we have already seen that people trust in the role of vitamins and omega-3s for illness prevention and overall health. As the global pandemic has emphasised susceptibility to sickness, consumer interest in these already-known recommendations has spiked and driven increased sales for supplement and nutraceutical brands. 

Currently, we are seeing a number of new immunity products with tailored composition of key nutrients for the immune system coming to the market. A challenge is the very different regulatory requirements in different countries, as not all regulation bodies allow dosages which are considered optimal for immune health. A joint engagement of industry and science is required to address these shortcomings and inconsistences to open the opportunities for public health. A strong immune system is relevant in the short and long term for the performance and public health of societies. The current pandemic will be a catalyst for this health trend—and companies engaging in science and innovation are required to make this happen.

In terms of how brands can make the necessary shift toward science-based solutions in the interest of long-term success, there is a need for all companies to commit to supporting research on the nutrient status of global populations and provide research material relevant for human studies. Companies and scientists engage in translating the science of nutrition for a strong immune system to consumers, but what is currently missing is the commitment of the medical community and governments to communicate and advocate for the rola a strong immune system plays in reducing risk, duration and severity of viral infections. This shortcoming requires strategy and resource collaboration between brands, local and international medical communiities, and governmental bodies.

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