OTC medications are facing increased competition from supplements positioned as general immunity boosters. "Many retailers that sell OTCs now feature a section of shelf space that is devoted to this type of product," says Nicholas Hall's Nicola Jay.

The H1N1 virus running rampant across the globe presented the immune-boosting segment of the naturals market with an opportunity to tout its selection of ingredients demonstrated to improve human immunity. Whether fecklessness or fear of regulatory reprisal, the industry largely demurred at the opportunity.

"Reputable supplement companies are being very up front in stating that their products are not intended to prevent, treat or cure any health condition, including the H1N1 virus," says Cheryl Strum, director of marketing for Embria Health Sciences, which markets EpiCor, a unique yeast-based immune enhancer that stimulates aspects of the immune system, such as NK cells, and also balances overall immune function. "It would be reasonable, however, to expect that as media attention continues to surround the H1N1 virus that products with strong science, like EpiCor, will be at an advantage as consumers take preventive measures against what could be a strong resurgence of the H1N1 virus in the fall and winter."

Probiotics stand atop the list of immune enhancers, and yoghurts are only the tip of the iceberg. Probi and Skanemejerier have collaborated on a new launch of probiotic drinks. The range will contain a combination of two new probiotic strains patented by Probi, one within the family Lactobacillus plantarumand one within Lactobacillus paracasei.

In 2009, Institut Rosell-Lallemand launched ProbioStim, a probiotic/prebiotic combination with three proprietary strains of Rosell's probiotics.

"The market for immune-support supplements is growing. Prevention is a strategy bound to be increasingly endorsed by the public and private health-care providers concerned about health-care costs," says Isabelle Champié, brand manager for Institut Rosell-Lallemand. "In this context, probiotics are well positioned: both scientific evidence and consumer awareness regarding their benefits in strengthening the immune defences have tremendously increased in the past few years."

Prebiotics, of course, complement probiotics. GTC Nutrition is marketing its 90 per cent purity GOS ingredient, Purimune, for immune purposes. "As a prebiotic, Purimune supports immune health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, while also helping to prevent the colonization of pathogenic bacteria, which helps to reinforce the body's natural defences," says GTC marketing manager Trina O'Brien.

Functional ingredients:
Astragalus
Beta-glucan
Echinacea
Garlic
Mushroom extracts
Nucleotides
Quercetin
Resveratrol
Selenium
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Zinc

Off the probiotics track, proprietary ingredients such as mushroom derivatives and beta-glucans are demonstrating effectiveness in boosting immune function. There are actually thousands of known mushroom varieties, and several have been studied for their ability to enhance the human immune system and fight infections. Some of the more well-known varieties include reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), shiitake (Lentinus edodes), cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), and maitake (Grifola frondosa).

Biothera's Wellmune WGP won the NutrAward competition at Nutracon, for best new product of 2005. It also received the 2007 IFT Food Expo Innovation Award, and it just received the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Research Award.

"We are pleased to receive the Frost & Sullivan award, which recognizes Biothera's dedication and commitment to rigorous scientific research on the real health benefits of Wellmune WGP," says Richard Mueller, Biothera's chief executive officer. "Biothera is redefining the immune health category with completely natural products that are backed by credible science and that do not overstimulate the immune system."

According to Frost & Sullivan's analyst Sneha Pasricha, "Biothera's Wellmune WGP is one of the most evidence-based, natural food and beverage ingredients in the industry, that activates key immune cells, including macrophages and neutrophils, and protects against stress-induced health challenges. This has been validated by numerous scientific/clinical studies."

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Select Suppliers

Allera Health Products
Proligna
Multi-patented pinecone extract proven to increase levels of mature dendritic immune cells nine times in nine days. Also proven to balance the Th1/Th2 immune response and reduce elevated levels of allergy causing IgE.
www.immunextra.com
retail@allerahealth.com
+1 888 466 8638
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
 

Biothera
Wellmune WGP
Natural ingredient clinically proven to enhance key immune cells that are the body's first line of defence. Designed for functional foods, beverages and supplements. Strengthens innate immune cells to more quickly find and kill foreign challenges. Patented, GRAS, TGA-approved, kosher, halal, nonallergenic and GMO-free.
www.biothera.com
smeredith@biothera.com
+1 877 699 5100
Eagan, Minnesota, USA

Diana Naturals
Brassicare
Broccoli extract standardized to 1.6 per cent glucoraphane and high in sulforaphane. Can aid in liver detoxification and protect the immune system. Also a powerful antioxidant.
www.diana-naturals.com
bstagg@diana-naturals-inc.com
+1 845 268 5200
Antrain, France

Draco Natural Products
Agaricus mushroom
Rich source of polysaccharides, minerals and antioxidant compounds for optimal immune health. Powerful and diverse effects for immune health, hormonal health and anti-inflammatory activity.
www.dracoherbs.com
info@dracoherbs.com
+1 408 287 7871
San Jose, California, USA

Embria Health Sciences
EpiCor
All-natural, nutrient-rich ingredient that helps balance the immune system. Manufactured using a proprietary technology that produces vital metabolites, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Clinical studies show significant decrease in cold, flu and seasonal-allergy symptoms. Also shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity and activate crucial defence cells (natural killer, T- and B-cells).
www.embriahealth.com
info@embriahealth.com
+1 877 362 7421
Ankeny, Iowa, USA

FrieslandCampina Domo
Vivinal GOS
Galacto oligosaccharides. Prebiotic ingredient derived from dairy. Reported to have good tolerance in humans vs other prebiotics. Closely resembles the oligosaccharides present in human milk. Provides key benefits for digestive health, mineral adsorption and immunity support.
www.vivinalgos.com
sarah.staley@frieslandcampina.com
+1 773 569 8599
Zwolle, Netherlands

Improve USA
DaltonMax700
A unique Aloe vera dehydrated 200x powder from the inner fillet of the aloe vera leaf. Retains all the natural components found in the fresh, unprocessed leaf. Rich in long-chain polysaccharides, considered the major carbohydrate fraction obtained from Aloe vera gel. This fraction contains greater than 50 per cent polysaccharides with a molecular weight greater than 1 million dalton.
www.aloewholesale.com
improveusa@aloewholesale.com
+1 972 230 9155
DeSoto, Texas, USA

Innovactiv
PeptiBal
All-natural, marine-based immune modulator that contributes to raising the mucosal immune defenses of the body by increasing circulating and secretory IgA levels. Promotes the synthesis of key cytokines involved in maintaining a healthy intestinal barrier. Helps in the maintenance of optimal TH1/TH2 balance.
www.innovactiv.com
info@innovactiv.com
+1 418 652 9598
Rimouski, Quebec, Canada

Institut Rosell-Lallemand
Probiokid and Probiostim
Synbiotic formulation that contributes to healthy flora, essential for the development and maintenance of the body's natural defences. Latest studies show prevention of infectious diseases in children.
www.institut-rosell-lallemand.com
americas-hn@lallemand.com
+33 5 62 74 55 55
Blagnac, France

Khong Guan
Antrodia camphorata
Found only in Taiwanese cinnamomum kanehirai hay tree that grows 400-1,500 meters above sea level. Maintains healthy liver function and supports immune-system health.
www.khongguan.com
rli@kgcusa.com
+1 510 487 7800
Union City, California, USA

Lonza
ResistAid
All-natural, multifunctional product from the bark and wood of larch trees. Consists of the soluble polysaccharide arabinogalactan and bioactive flavonoids, which help support healthy immune function and have antioxidant capacity.
www.lonzanutrition.com
contact.allendale@lonza.com
+1 800 365 8324
Basel, Switzerland

Maypro Industries
Active Hexose Correlated Compound
Extract of hybridized medicinal mushrooms, supported by 24 studies. Clinically proven to increase the activity of NK cells, DC cells, cytokines, T cells and macrophages.
www.maypro.com
customerservice@maypro.com
+1 914 251 0701
Purchase, New York, USA

National Enzyme Company
BioCore Optimum Complete
Where digestive wellness begins. Enhances the body's access to vital nutrients, supporting immune health and proper digestion. Also helps prevent the presence of undigested food.
www.nationalenzyme.com
mail@nationalenzyme.com
+1 800 825 8545
Forsyth, Missouri, USA

NP Nutra
Aronia
One of the highest ORAC values ever recorded. Extremely rich antioxidant content that may be beneficial for reducing oxidative stress. May support the maintenance of healthy blood sugar and blood-pressure levels, and aid proper digestion.
www.npnutra.com
cs@npnutra.com
+1 310 694 3031
Gardena, California, USA

Nutra Bridge
PeptiBal
Offers triple-action immune support by increasing IgA, improving intestinal wall health and increasing key cytokines that boost TH1/TH2 levels. Provides balanced, daily immune modulation.
scott@nutrabridge.com
+1 651 245 8733
Shoreview, Minnesota, USA

Nutraceutix
Probiotics
Probiotics that benefit from an unmatched collection of process and technology patents, patents-pending, and extensive expertise.
www.nutraceutix.com
info@nutraceutix.com
+1 425 883 9518
Redmond, Washington, USA

Terry Laboratories
Aloe Gold Seal
Advanced processing techniques maximize both the size and quantity of the polysaccharides present in Aloe vera to provide maximum benefit to consumer. When taken orally, the polysaccharide fraction of Aloe vera has been shown to exhibit antiviral activity and enhance immune-cell function.
www.terrylabs.com
aloe@terrylabs.com
+1 800 FOR ALOE
Melbourne, Florida, USA

Wild Flavors
MaxImmune
Patented, proprietary blend of immunity-boosting ingredients. Includes grape-skin, grape-seed, shitake and green-tea extracts. Clinically shown to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with the common cold.
www.wildflavors.com
marketing@wildflavors.com
+1 888 WILD FLAVORS
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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