Supplements are popular worldwide, and projections show they are only gaining in popularity next year and beyond. According to Grand View Research, global dietary supplements was a $140.3 billion market in 2020. And it’s only getting bigger. This is a huge business. And when there’s this much money in an industry, you need to understand the facts from the myths. Can some supplements help you live a better, healthier life? Yes, we think so. But are some supplements more trendy than fact-based? Oh, yes. And the COVID 19 pandemic has increased the amount of misinformation that’s out there. And the fact that social media can perpetuate some myths around supplements doesn’t help. So what’s real and what’s not? Let’s look at five supplements everyone will be taking next year.
First off, why do people take supplements? There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to adding vitamins, minerals and other supplements to you diet. On one hand, there is the “helping with deficiency” school of thought. As we get older, or if our diets are lacking in certain areas, supplements are great ways to make sure we’re getting everything our bodies need to function optimally. On the other hand, there seems to be the “supplements are magic” school of thought. This is usually related to fads or trends. All of a sudden a new supplement will rise in popularity and become a panacea — or cure all — for everything. You should always be skeptical of these new magical supplements. Magical claims are usually unfounded if there’s no science to back them up.
Five supplements everyone will be taking next year:
1. Immune Supplements
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, immune supplements sales drastically increased. Immune supplement sales are going to be a popular supplement choice. There is no evidence that any immune supplements can prevent or treat COVID-19. But people still may associate taking an immune supplement with lowering risk for COVID-19 and other illnesses.
Immune supplements can encompass an array of vitamins, minerals and herbs. Here are some commonly included “immune” supplement ingredients. And we break down the current research on how or if they help immune health.
Immune supplements everyone will be taking next year
Vitamin D has long been associated with bone health. But the past few years research has shown vitamin D has many other roles in the body including immune health. Some studies have shown up to approximately 40% of the US population may be vitamin D deficient. That reason alone has made it a hugely popular supplement.
Interestingly, lacking vitamin D has been associated with increased risk for respiratory infections. Therefore, vitamin D is considered by many as an “immune supplement” and important for preventing various illnesses. There are lots of benefits from vitamin D (which we get a lot of from the sun.) However, researchers caution taking a vitamin D supplement as a COVID 19 preventative. Despite what you may have seen on social media, it is not proven to prevent COVID-19. But all these factors is why vitamin d will be one of the supplements everyone will be taking next year.
Zinc is involved in many functions in the body including immune health and wound healing. The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair immune function. A 2015 review concluded zinc can help reduce the duration of common cold symptoms in healthy people when it is taken within 24 hours of onset of cold symptoms, it . Sounds great, right?
Zinc gained some spotlight when a 2020 report found lower plasma zinc levels were associated with an increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients. However, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine notes the link between zinc supplementation and lowering risk of COVID-19 is unclear. Research is ongoing with using zinc for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. And we do not recommend taking it as a COVID 19 preventative. Zinc has enough benefits on its own to warrant adding it to your diet.
Probiotics are not a new immune supplement. In fact, as consumers are getting more familiar with probiotics and their potential benefits. The demand for tailored probiotics and in various formats (pills, powders, capsules, etc.) continues to grow. Globally, Australia, Indonesia and India are surging in probiotic supplement use according to Mordor Intelligence.
According to the NIH, little research has validated claims of elderberry preventing sickness. And there are no current research studies have evaluating the use of elderberry for COVID-19. Despite this, elderberry has been a popular, natural immune supplement especially during the COVID pandemic. According to Food Dive, elderberry use across categories like juice, candy and fruit spreads increased 124.6% in 2020. That makes it almost assured to be one of the supplements everyone will be taking next year.
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Collagen has been a popular supplement the past few years; it is readily available online and in most grocery stores. And collagen will continue to grow in popularity as a supplement for athletes and for skin or joint health. Collagen “drinks” are especially becoming popular. You can make your own collagen-infused drinks by adding collagen supplements to coffee, lattes, tea, smoothies or plain water. Or by just buying one of the many new collagen-infused products flooding the market.
3. Stress Supplements (Adaptogens)
Adaptogens are plants that could potentially aid the body in dealing with stress. These adaptogens are consumed in a wide variety of forms. From pills, teas or even eaten like other culinary herbs. It is thought adaptogens act by gently stimulating hormones involved with stress response, similarly like how exercise strengthens muscles.
Some animal and cell studies shows adaptogens can have neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, antidepressive, and CNS stimulating activity. But as a 2018 TIME article suggests, more controlled human studies are needed with adaptogens.
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Common adaptogen supplements can include:
- Holy basil
4. Brain Health Supplements
Mental health concerns are on the rise as COVID-19 increased social isolation and instances of depression. It’s been a difficult year for so many of us. One of the silver linings is that it has helped lessen the stigma of mental health. We’re now more comfortable discussing the struggles and ramifications of a year away from loved ones. (And there was growing evidence of a mental health crisis even before the pandemic.) Grand View Research suggests the global brain health supplement market will reach $13.38 billion by 2028. But is it something you should consider taking?
Brain health supplements can include: B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, Huperzine-A, Acetyl-L-carnitine, beet powder, ginseng or Ginkgo Biloba. But will these supplements help your memory of overall brain function. In short, no. Mainly because the current research does not suggest these brain supplements offer any benefit. Will they hurt you? Most likely not. As long as you take them in the recommended doses. But will they help your mind stay sharp? We’re not sure yet. Jut because they are one of the 5 supplements everyone will be taking next year doesn’t mean they will work!
5. Eye Supplements
Eye health is a growing concern as many people are now in constant Zoom conferences, working remotely and always looking at a computer or phone screen. Because of this, eye health supplements are a growing trend. Another growing niche market looking for eye supplements are e-gamers according to Makers Nutrition.
University of Michigan Health suggests more research is needed to determine if eye supplements actually help protect eyes. A specialized blend of vitamin and mineral supplements lowered the risk of worsening of age-related macular degeneration in the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). However, this benefit was only with people who already had age-related macular degeneration. And researchers claim this supplement will not prevent age related macular degeneration or other eye concerns.
Eye supplements can contain the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Ginkgo Biloba extract
- Omega 3 fatty acids
5 Supplements Everyone Will Be Taking Next Year Recap
COVID-19 has increased and changed the supplements many of us are looking for. As many continue to stay home and work remotely, supplements are easily available to order from the comfort of home. Immune supplements will continue to be a hot trend. But beware of any claims of a supplement preventing or treating COVID-19 or other illnesses. Brain and eye health are a growing concern for many. And these supplements will also be popular next year along with adaptogens to help combat feelings of stress.
Collagen continues to be a popular supplement. More and more collagen-infused foods and drinks added to your grocery aisle.
Consult your healthcare team before taking any supplements. Keep in mind most supplements need more research in terms of impact on health. Supplement purity and quality of ingredients varies greatly from product to product. Do your own research on supplement companies and look for third party verification.
Lastly, remember taking a supplement is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a healthy diet, exercise and getting adequate sleep.
Holly Klamer MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian and freelance nutrition and writer. She attended Colorado State University where she received her MS and RD certifications. She specializes in sports nutrition, culinary nutrition, disease management/prevention, and disordered eating. She enjoys traveling, trying new foods, running, and spending time outside.