We’re one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new vaccines are promising. But there’s still much we don’t know, especially with new variants that are threatening to keep the novel coronavirus in circulation, like the common cold or influenza.
One thing we do know is that consumers have taken a renewed interest in their health and immunity. NBJ Reports supplement sales were up 20% in 2020 and FMCG Gurus reports that 26% of North American consumers intend to increase their omega-3 intake. This is a result of increased awareness of the role omega-3 plays in immune function.
The research on very-long-chain fatty acids (DHA+EPA) indicates these are crucial in regulating inflammation response. EPA and DHA are precursors to a suite of inflammation-resolving mediators (IRMs; resolvins, maresins, and protectins) that actively regulate the resolution of acute inflammation. Higher levels of omega-3 in the blood is associated with lower levels of circulating inflammatory cytokines. The worst outcomes of COVID-19 are associated with cytokine storms—an excess of cytokines that cause the body to attack its own tissue instead of the virus.
PLEFA published a preliminary study on the correlation of omega-3 fatty acids and outcomes in confirmed COVID-19 infections. The study indicated that patients with an Omega-3 Index (a measurement of total DHA+EPA in red blood cell membranes) equal or greater to 5.7% based at the time of hospital admission had a 75% lower risk of death than patients with lower levels of omega-3. While further study is needed, an independent clinical trial with a 600mg daily dose of Nutriterra® delivered mean Omega-3 Index values greater than 5.7% after four weeks. More detail on the Omega-3 Index is available in the Nutriterra® white paper, published last month.
As we ease out of a pandemic, consumers will continue to prioritize their health and resiliency. Anticipated continued annual growth in the omega-3 category is 4%, with the lion’s share of new consumers preferring plant-based sources, like Nutriterra®.