Although fiber, lutein and vitamin D have a plethora of positive research that barely intersects, they have had significant, albeit varying, impacts on public health. So, what really links this trio? A blueprint for attaining massive popularity, one based on years of scientific data that “spans some important categories," said Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). "That really helps on both sides of the equation. It helps the industry develop responsible claims. It helps reduce the regulatory risk, and I think you have universities and other academic institutions cranking out new information about all these ingredients because the preliminary studies are promisingand that prompts further research and investigation."
The data must be consistent and positive enough for the traditional medical community to take notice and recommend it to their patients for a specific medical condition. “It’s not 'We think it’s good for you,'" said Diane Ray, vice president of strategic innovation at the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), but “'We know it will help with X, Y and Z.'"
Despite its unsexy profile, fiber has reached unassailable status. Consumers know fiber is healthy, and landmark products such as Metamucil have not only been around forever, but they've met their promises. Plus, soluble fiber has moved into more food and beverage applications.
Vitamin D, however, is a different story. Yes, the body can produce vitamin D on its own from ultraviolet (UV) rays, but with sunscreen usage on the rise and its limited dietary sources, vitamin D supplementation becomes extremely important for lifelong health.
Lutein is “the teenager" of the trio. The average intake in the United States is between 0.5 mg/d and 1 mg/d, significantly below the levels of lutein associated with reduced risk of age-related eye disease (ARED) and eye health in general. Why? Because the information hasn’t reached the general population. But the hope is lutein will follow fiber with increased consumer knowledge of its role of prevention.
As fiber, lutein and vitamin D gain popularity and consumer acknowledgment, and studies continue to build upon existing research, the industry will be able to develop responsible claims, reduce its regulatory risk and garner the attention of the traditional medical community.
For a quick synopsis of this month's R&D Insights impact series report, visit http://rd.supplysideinsights.com/videos to check out the Analyst Desk.