Once a person asked a question- how important is insulin? The answer was “You cannot live without it”. After many years the same person asked how important are vitamins in life? Instant answer was repeated as cannot live without it”.
By Prof (Dr) Ramesh K. Goyal
The above mentioned is highly common but seldom asked. In this article attempts have been made to provide answers to these questions.
Can we live without vitamins?
To layman, vitamins provide strength, prevent fatigue and give feeling of being healthy. To little more educated non-medical person, vitamins give strength to bones and muscles (vitamin D) or increase redness in blood or prevent anaemia (vitamin B12) or required for women after adolescence (Iron with folic acid and vitamin B12) or for gums and tooth (vitamin C).
A nutritionist, who has not undergone specialized program in biochemistry, vitamins prevent ageing and illness (flavonoid having antioxidants properties). A medical doctor normally feels it should be prescribed during any chronic illness. While writing prescription, a doctor often considers symptoms. Iron with or without vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B12 are commonly prescribed by doctor in chronic illness. An orthopedic person often prescribes vitamin D and calcium for bones. Of late, it is very common to prescribe antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin A and flavonoids. Similarly, there is a trend for practicing doctors to prescribe multivitamin tablets with or without minerals. Many a times, doctors prescribe vitamins or multivitamins to satisfy patients who often rather demand it.
If we consider the brand name then in one country the largest selling brand is “Centrum”. However, in general, vitamins don’t come under prescription drugs, hence it is not uncommon that any superstore may have multivitamin available. Marketing tricks are employed to attract the customers. Centrum is available as centrum for males, centrum for females, centrum for kids. Centrum is available for more than 50 years of age and so on. I had a curiosity to compare the contents of two such products, one for man and another for woman. It was found that there is variation of ±5-10% in content only for a few ingredients. Does such differences really makes any difference?The table 1 gives comparison of two Centrum brands.
How important are vitamins in life?
Vitamins don’t provide energy, like carbohydrates, proteins and fats, but it is utmost requirement to help the body grow and function optimally and comes under category of essential compounds. There are almost thirteen essential vitamins that help to boost your immunity, strengthen your bones, heal wounds, bolster your eyesight and assist you in obtaining energy from food and multiple other functions. Without adequate vitamin intake, the person may feel lethargic, and more vulnerable to infection and develop other serious complications.
Vitamins may be categorized as fat-soluble and water-soluble, referring to where they are stored in the body. Fat-soluble vitamins consist of A, D, E and K and are stored for up to six months in your various fat stores. Water-soluble vitamins circulate through your blood and include the B vitamins namely B6, B12, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folate and vitamin C.
Vitamins are 13 in numbers and have a specific function, however they work together for optimal good health state. Vitamin A facilitate the healthy eyesight, immune function, skin, bones and teeth. Vitamin C support absorption of the mineral iron and also to provide immune protection and encourage healthy tissue development. Vitamin D coupled with the mineral calcium, and enhances the bone health as well as a solid body defense system. Vitamin E facilitates your body’s use of vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting and bone health, as well as promotes the formation of essential red blood cells. The eight vitamins B support a healthy metabolism, brain function, hormone production, and regular heart operations, functioning of the central nervous system and cell duties.
Insufficient amount of vitamin intakes increase risks of your health and more vulnerable to heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. If vitamin C level is too lower, then your body can’t produce collagen, the primary tissue in the body. In severe cases of vitamin C deficiency, people experienced scurvy that may be characterized by muscle and joint pain, fatigue, spongy, swollen gums and red spots on the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is the main cause of rickets in children, which manifests as bone pain, deformations and poor growth and may contribute to poor bone health in adults as well as high blood pressure, some cancers and autoimmune diseases. The maximum amount of vitamin D that adults can safely obtain from supplements is 4,000 international units (IU) per day. If the limit is exceed with this limit, the excess vitamin D stays in blood and causing many adverse effects such as unintentional weight loss, anorexia and abnormal heart rhythms.
In an editorial in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” Johns Hopkins researchers reviewed evidence about supplements, including three very recent studies:
An analysis of research involving 450,000 people, who found that multivitamins, did not reduce risk for heart disease or cancer
A study that tracked the mental functioning and multivitamin use of 5,947 men for 12 years found that multivitamins did not reduce risk for mental declines such as memory loss or slowed-down thinking.
A study of 1,708 heart attack survivors who took a high-dose multivitamin or placebo for up to 55 months. Rates of later heart attacks, heart surgeries and deaths were similar in the two groups.
The study revealed that multivitamins have no appreciable role to reduce the risk for vascular diseases, cancer, cognitive decline. Published reports concluded that vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful especially at higher doses.
One of the study report published by Larry Appel, M.D., Director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research showed that “Pills are never a shortcut for getting good health state and prevention of chronic diseases”. Researchers also explored that there is one exception exist for supplemental folic acid in case of pregnant women. This may be explained that folic acid supports to rectify the neural tube defects in babies before and during early pregnancy. This is the very big reason for recommendations of multivitamins tablets for young women and the recommended dose should be 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. However, the presence of iron in a multivitamin may also very unique role in for women of child-bearing potential.
Position of Vitamins Market:
Vitamins are vital nutrient and most of the vitamins are used as supplements and ingredients in various food production industries. There are some important factors that play major role for increased demand of vitamins market such as health awareness and disorders caused by vitamin deficiencies, enhanced demand for fortified food. Health awareness among the consumers for consumed products will definitely upgrade the vitamins growth in the market in near future.
The vitamins market had valued at USD 4.85 billion in 2017 and it will grow around USD 7.35 billion at 2023, with the 7.3% CAGR rate during the forecast period.
The global vitamins market may be classified on various category given below:
Type of vitamin: Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K
Type of form in which they consumed: Healthcare products, Food & beverages, Feed, and Personal care products
Just 3 years ago, the most dominated vitamins is Vitamin B in market and higher growth of vitamin B may be due to food and consumed products having specific types of vitamins B namely vitamin B6 and vitamin B3. The main reason may be the easy availability of vitamin B that has enhanced the demand of Vitamin B in market. It is assumed that in near future, vitamin C market will drastically increase in the period of from 2018 to 2023 with highest CAGR. it can be explained on the basis of unique property of Vitamin C such as antioxidants that ultimately helps to absorb iron.. Other benefits may be considered for its increased market popularity such as faster healing of wounds, skin, eye and immune system maintainer
The form of consumed food products may be one important factor for popularity of vitamins. The researchers explored that various health care products such as dietary supplements and pharmaceutical products are added to the food of health-conscious consumers on preventive healthcare.
The vitamins market, is segemented into synthetic and natural and synthetic vitamins has dominated in 2018 due to its lower cost of production of synthetic vitamins then natural vitamins.
Asia Pacific is the most prevalent region that dominated the vitamins market in 2018 and enhanced CAGR at a very higher rate. Other driving force also take part to rise vitamins market such as higher incomes, increase purchasing power, with consumer demand for nutritional & healthy foods. Further, the vitamins market in Asia Pacific is also experienced growth in the feed industry
Today’s markets is filled up of various synthetic vitamins and its higher demand owing to its easy availability and lower cost associated with its production . The main source for synthetic vitamins are petroleum extracts or coal tar derivatives that is very cheaper raw materials. Additionally, natural vitamins associated with higher production cost and constrained supply of raw materials for natural vitamins that restrains the market growth for natural vitamins.
Elements which are essential for vitamin’s market progress?
There are five key elements in healthy living which enthused an improved attentiveness and a number of products associated through it.
1. An aging population
U.S. economy has been made through the transformation of aging of baby those born after Second World War. Novel approach of perpendicular statistics will change expenditure in healthcare and readjust market. The occurrence of vitamin and dietary supplement business where marketing have developed by 6% annually from 2007-2012 is discernible by this time and as of 2012.
2. Improved awareness of customers for anticipatory healthcare
If we take a look on magazine, news and social media, it will be clear that urban population across the world frequently allot both diet and lifestyle advice and provide detailed information about new products which has been an important for purchaser. VMHS manufacturers has been determines through discriminate customer attentiveness with objective to increased their marketing efforts.
3. The increased of the self-directed consumer
The period when patrons gradually rely on alternate channels to self-diagnose and to detect requirements of the health. At present, to know information on fitness and to be updated on health making decision throughout all parts of the health journey about 70% of Americans use the internet. This has promoted VMHS producers as the result of consumers taking their health into their own hands, not by the doctors.
4. Channel proliferation
VMHS producers are exceedingly fragmented and are editing new sales stations to reach a diverse. The primary manufacturer existing necessities, for illustration, preserves only 7% market share and the top five patented manufacturers composed less than a 25% market share. Such destruction is the consequence of absence of awareness of product and lack of consumer allegiance in the category.
5. Shift from ingredient for occupying the broader position
Traditionally, health needs of consumers has been focused on VMHS marketing .This prominence formed a market in which products were commercialized and difficulty differentiate between two. To overcome this , sellers have recently start to adapt their consumer messaging in the expectations of cheering use of a wider range of products.
Position of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements (VMHS) in the near future
It has been stated that in coming years there will be some more driving factors that influence the VMHS category.
1. Attractive label for branded VMHS products
As market survey coupled with consumers need is the main cause for searching some innovative tools that may be some attractive label for branded VMHS products. For example: Walmart and Costco are the retailers that rise the demand through their own private label offerings through new branding and formulations, improved packaging with and consumer education pamphlet. The higher profit with consumer loyalty also important and draw attention of retailers for investing money in these products.
2. Digital market growth
Digital market has improved the online shopping experience by means of better online education and targeted marketing and improved the comfort level of consumers for buying the vitamins products ans enhanced VMHS market. For example: Amazon, recently launched a site that is dedicated to products for the 50+ demographic. moreover, the online live chat options will also help instantly to understand the sorts of specific consumer questions and break the barrier to online purchases.
3. Regulatory guidelines reassurethe increase
The continuous growth of VMHS category will be intermingled with increased oversight and strict regulatory guidelines that was followed in manufacturing of products, safety of product and efficacy claims. Over the last years, there has been a appreciable increase in FDA enforcement actions pertaining to food and dietary supplement labeling violations. Hence, companies are most attentively with the language to avoid making either implied nutrient content claims or efficacy/health benefit claims. Strict regulatory guidelines would be applied to manufacturing processes and make a practices to help ensure safety and quality.
Current and Future Prospects of vitamin as an important ingredient
In today’s world, maximum segment of market is occupied by cosmetic products and in most of them cosmetic products are prepared by vitamins as a significant ingredient. This major driving factor enforced the stimulation of vitamin ingredients market for cosmetic products. These skin care products have the ability to reduce wrinkles, dark spots, aging-induced cell damage and inflammation that may sufficient for rising the industry growth further.
It is estimated that global vitamin supplements will rise at 14% CAGR during the period of 2024. By adopting the innovative products and packaging materials has resulted the newer formulations namely softgels, gelcaps as compare to traditional tablets and powders. some other points may be considered for enhancing vitamin ingredient market such as increasing awareness of benefits of vitamins, enhancing urbanization, growing influence of media, changing the lifestyle pattern, rising incomes, growing adoption of vitamins in animal feeds, growing prevalence of immune-compromised patients.
Hence, all the points as discussed above suggested that companies will need to closely monitor the regulatory guidelines, market shifts, demands of consumers at globally and accordingly rationalized the products in order to avoid consumer backlash. The expansion of the vitamins market throughout the next decade provides a unique opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to invest their money on such heavy demanded market products.
(The author is Vice Chancellor, Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research University, New Delhi)