Vitamin C's missteps open door for competitors

Vitamin C's missteps open door for competitors

The classic immune-building vitamin C continues to take a nose-dive in sales at the same time the cold-prevention category is experiencing tightening regulation, particularly when it comes to kids cough and cold remedies. But as some of the opportunistic riff-raff gets weeded out of the market, experts say immunity ingredients are about to catch a break.


It seems when it comes to immunity, mom doesn’t know best—unless mom is a research scientist.

The mother-recommended cold and flu staple vitamin C continued its sales plummet in 2009 to 2010. One reason could be a regulatory market that has ramped up in the last few years in response to dubious products targeting the H1N1 pandemic. “The research is just not very compelling on vitamin C,” says Don Cox, senior vice president for research development at Biothera. “Regulators are looking for data with a pretty high standard of evidence.”

Cold and cough products, particularly those geared toward children, have been a focus of U.S. regulators in recent years. “It will be interesting to see how the immunity category shakes out as more and more OTC products run into problems with the FDA,” says Bill Levi, vice president of operations and business development at Nutrition 21.

One benefit may be to quell dubious companies’ fever to enter the market. “Anyone who wants to come into this category—specifically food and beverage—is finding that the barrier for entry is as much about generating data as it is for developing the product,” says Cox, noting that his company has received more than $100 million in funding from angel investors to research and develop a single ingredient, Wellmune WGP.

Nevertheless, Cox believes the immunity ingredients market is poised to take off. “There’s a natural progression in preexisting markets like heart health. I think it’s immunity’s turn to grow—it’s our time,” he says.

Baker’s best

Wellmune WGP, a gluco polysaccharide derived from the cell walls of a proprietary strain of yeast, binds to immune cells and activates their antimicrobials that fight infection. Ten clinical trials have been published in the last three years showing the ingredient’s efficacy for everything from upper respiratory tract infections to fluctuating moods.

The latest study, published in July, involved 60 men and women who took either 250 mg of Wellmune or a placebo before a 43- to 55-minute bike ride. After 10 days of this regimen, measurements of various markers in the Wellmune subjects showed that the ingredient may protect and boost the immune system following stressful exercise.

Nothing to sneeze at

Nutrition 21’s new immunity ingredient Coldizin combines zinc with the bioflavonoid troxerutin. Levi says Coldizin has been clinically proven to reduce common cold symptoms within 24 hours. A 2004 randomized study of 94 cold sufferers found that those who were given a combo of 50 mg of troxerutin and 25 mg of zinc gluconate reduced their symptoms, particularly runny nose, by 11 percent after one day, compared to 1 percent for the group that took zinc gluconate alone.

Antioxidants and immunity

Lonza’s ResistAid uses wood and bark from the larch tree to support the immune system’s natural killer cells and other defense mechanisms in the body, such as white blood cells, cytokines and macrophages. Larch’s flavonoids, along with the polysaccharide arabinogalactan, are powerful antioxidants—26,500 on the ORAC scale, which is quadruple the value of blueberries—and have been shown to have an immunomodulatory effect.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published last summer shows  that subjects given ResistAid 30 days prior to receiving an immune-system stressor—a pneumonia vaccine—and 42 days after the vaccine had a significantly higher antibody response to the vaccine than the placebo group. Researchers concluded that this means ResistAid may be an innunomodulator, helping the immune system selectively respond to antigens.

ResistAid is highly water soluble and stable over a wide range of temperatures and pH, making it easily incorporated into dietary supplements and functional foods and beverages, according to Lonza.  


Condition Specific Directory



Afrinatural US

Pelargonium sidoides (Umckaloabo)


Albion, Human Nutrition Division

Zinc Glycinate Chelate


Atlantic Chemical Trading of North America, Inc.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)



Wellmune WGP

Wellmune WGP is a natural ingredient that is clinically proven to safely prime the immune system to keep the body healthy. Derived from a proprietary strain of yeast, Wellmune mobilizes key immune cells without over stimulating the immune system. It’s patented, Kosher, non-allergenic, GMO-free and has broad regulatory approval worldwide.

[email protected]

877-699-5100 (toll free)

Eagan, Minnesota, USA


Cyanotech Corporation

Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica


Embria Health Sciences




Fluxome Beta Glucan


Ganeden Biotech, Inc.


An easy to use, kosher, non-GMO, self-affirmed GRAS probiotic ingredient.  It’s the only probiotic to survive mixing, shearing, and baking; does not require refrigeration; survives gastric acidity, and can be formulated into products to have up to a two-year shelf life.  GanedenBC30 helps support digestive and immune health.

[email protected]


Mayfield Heights, Ohio, USA


Heartland Flax

Flax Seed


Improve USA, Inc.


Retains the natural occurring ingredients found in the fresh aloe leaf. The large polysaccharides are known to modulate the body’s immune system to a normal healthy level.

[email protected]


DeSoto, Texas, USA





Lonza Inc.


A natural immune-support ingredient manufactured by Lonza. ResistAid™ consists of the soluble polysaccharide arabinogalactan and bioactive flavonoids, and thus has antioxidant capacity. ResistAid™ is formulation-friendly, and can be easily incorporated into dietary supplements and functional foods.

[email protected]


Allendale, New Jersey, USA

Maypro Industries



Mushroom Wisdom

Maitake D-Fraction


National Enzyme Co.

BioCore Optimum Complete

Where digestive wellness begins. Enhances the body's access to vital nutrients, supporting immune health and proper digestion. Helps prevent the presence of undigested food.

[email protected]


Forsyth, Missouri, USA


NP Nutra



Nutraceutix, Inc.

Probiotics, Bulk Powder


Nutraceuticals International

Cat’s Claw OSS™

Contains chemicals that may help stimulate the immune system and aid against viruses.  Applications: tablets, beverages, capsules, functional-food bars.

[email protected]


Elmwood Park, New Jersey, USA





Scientific Food Solutions

Fast-C Premium Vitamin C


Telos Ceuticals, LLC



UAS Laboratories, Inc.

DDS® Probiotic Blend 003

A synergistic combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS® 1 superstrain, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis and FOS at a potency of 10 billion CFU/g.  The probiotics are human isolates, are acid and bile resistant, non-dairy, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, preservative-free and non-GMO.

[email protected]


Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA


Valensa International

Parry Organic Spirulina

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