Beyond Vitamin C & Zinc: Other Immune-Associated Ingredients and Flavors

There’s no doubt immunity is still on consumers’ minds, with products featuring ingredients like vitamin C and zinc in high demand. But manufacturers may have more options than they think when it comes to ingredients and flavors that consumers associate with immunity.

Consumers Seek Immunity Ingredients in Foods, Beverages, and Supplements

Across the globe, vitamins and minerals are popular in products promoting immunity. For global new products launched between 2014 and 2019 with immune health claims, 58% included vitamins, and 48% included minerals.1 The most frequently used vitamins were vitamins C (38%), D (31%), B6 (27%), and A (26%), while the most commonly used mineral was zinc (25%).2

These products include supplements, as well as functional foods and beverages —all formats in high demand today as consumers seek ways to bolster their health since COVID-19. While there is a high awareness of certain vitamins and minerals among consumers, relying only on these can make it challenging for a brand to differentiate itself in the market. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of functional ingredients consumers associate with healthy immunity.

To learn more about how to navigation immune health among surging interest globally, including ingredients consumers associate with immunity and tips on making product claims, join us for our next live event.

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Bioactive Ingredients

Bioactive ingredients are defined as substances that produce an effect on cells, organs, or overall body function and include protein fractions like lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is an iron-rich protein that has shown an enhanced immune response in some clinical trials. In fact, protein, in general, has a health halo when it comes to consumer perceptions of immunity, with 81% of U.S. consumers associating protein with helping to support immune health.3

Probiotics are another popular ingredient choice since 82% of U.S. consumers associate probiotics with helping to support immunity.4 While the effect of probiotics on the immune system is still under study, some research areas include the production of bioactives and antimicrobial proteins by probiotic organisms that may produce immunity benefits.

mom and daughter drinking milk


Functional ingredients consumers associate with immunity also include botanicals. Though botanicals tend to have their origins in traditional medicine, they remain quite popular today, especially as clean label ingredients associated with natural and holistic healing. A whopping 57% of U.S. supplement users take herbs and botanicals.5

Elderberry is a favorite for those seeking natural immune support. This dark purple berry is linked to Native American herbalism and is known for its vitamins and antioxidant polyphenols, especially anthocyanins and flavonols. Another antioxidant superstar is turmeric, often used in joint health and post-workout products. While 25% of U.S. consumers associate elderberry with helping support immune health, that number rises to 40% for turmeric.6


Choosing the right flavor for an immunity-focused product can help highlight the product’s benefits. Flavors linked to fruits with vitamin C associations like citrus or elderberry are good choices for fruit-flavored products. Another option is cranberry flavor, which is associated with immune health based on cranberries anthocyanins and flavonols content (like elderberry) and perceived as having health benefits by consumers.


Honey flavor is another go-to thanks to it’s association with soothing irritating symptoms. The tradition of adding honey to herbal tea or lemon juice to soothe a sore throat during a cold is common and honey is also becoming more widely known for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, along with its vitamin content. Ginger flavor also works well and can easily be paired with lemon or honey flavors. Ginger’s positive association comes from it’s use in traditional Asian medicine for a variety of ailments including upset stomach.

Appealing to Consumers with the Right Ingredients and Flavors

As consumers continue to seek products that may help them stay healthy during the pandemic, manufacturers have an exciting opportunity to go above and beyond by giving them an array of ingredients and flavors to choose from. Creative formulating can also help products stand out from the crowd.

Whether your company is working on a dietary supplement formulation or a functional beverage or food, Glanbia Nutritionals has the ingredients and expertise you need to succeed. We offer a variety of ingredient options to meet today’s demands—from flavors to functional proteins like our Bioferrin® lactoferrin to our CuroWhite curcumin to vitamin and mineral focused custom premix solutions. We also provide flavor solutions to ensure your healthy products taste delicious!

Contact us to learn more.


1-2. Mintel. Defend Against Disease with Immunity-Boosting Products. 2019.
3-6. FMCG Gurus. COVID-19 Survey – February 2021.

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