In our current COVID-19 world, we have had to adjust to a new way of doing things. We minimize our exposure by making fewer trips to the grocery store, if we go at all, and our new fitness center is the living room, or the park. Thankfully we still have a few more months to take advantage of the nice weather, but cold and flu season is on the way, leading many to wonder how they will continue to stay strong and healthy – inside and out.
Link Between Sports Supplements and COVID/Immune Support
One very promising area of interest is in utilizing current sports nutrition supplements to support immune health. For example, researchers have found that carnosine reduced acute lung injury caused by H9N2 swine flu. One easy and affordable way to increase levels of carnosine in the body is by consuming beta-alanine – an ingredient commonly used in sports supplement formulations. In sports nutrition, beta-alanine is included to help enhance muscular endurance, prolonging time to fatigue and improving athletic performance. Other ingredients that are being looked at for their immune benefits and are also widely available in dietary sports supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, creatine, curcumin, phytochemicals and bioflavonoids. These ingredients offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are helpful in preventing illness and reducing inflammation and injury.
Consumers Not Traveling or Exercising in Public Places
As a result of travel restrictions and people not exercising in shared spaces, the need for portable or on-the-go supplement options such as bars, RTDs (Ready-To-Drink) and stick packs is temporarily on hold. This will likely be the case for some time, because the rules will continue to require social distancing and because our behaviors and attitudes about what is “necessary” have changed. Our going-out choices, along with our purchasing choices, have been, most likely permanently altered. This shift in consumer priority and need will require private label supplement manufacturers like NutraCap Labs to provide innovation in that goes beyond the functionality of convenient packaging and addresses the concern for immunity and recovery.
The Future of Sports Supplements – Innovation
The dietary supplement industry is ever evolving, and that is especially true of the sports nutrition category. There will always be a push for new and exciting products. So where will that innovation come from?
There has been a continuous and increasing demand over the past several years for sports supplements and other private label supplements to be convenient for the active, on-the-go consumer. Daily packs, bars, and beverages that can go from the gym bag to the car to the hotel have been popular among consumers. (We hadn’t quite topped the wave and come down the other side yet of all of the waste these smaller packages create – but that’s a different post.) These types of packages are poorly positioned for the needs of today’s consumer, who is far less likely to be using these products outside of the home.
As a result, there will be a growing shift towards more economic packages offering value, recyclability, and sustainability. (Pro tip: These larger packages allow for a lot more outer surface area to talk about the additional benefits of these products!) This trend is so prevalent that it even extends to consumers wanting vegan capsules due to environmental concerns. Sustainability is shifting from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for many consumers and companies in the in the sports supplements industry, tying in with key values in caring about health and the environment. Keep an eye on sustainable packaging trends in the future as it’s likely we will see more practical and economic options in the not too distant future. From the use of bio-based materials to recycle-friendly shrink-film, options exist to make your finished private label supplement fully recyclable. These types of packages will continue to gain in popularity, and are what you want to be exploring for your product line.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are remarkably resilient and their ability to adapt to the current pandemic is no different. They know that the best way to stay healthy amidst this pandemic is to “just keep swimming” – or running, or lifting, or yoga’ing. They also understand the benefits of good nutrition, and the impact that has on their performance and overall health. These consumers have continued to use their trusted supplements for endurance, muscle recovery and strength, but we’re starting to see a shift in focus to a different kind of strength that will help to prevent them from getting sick.
In addition to the beta-alanine we mentioned above, there are other tried-and-true sports ingredients that are also powerhouses for immune support – most people just don’t know about them yet:
Creatine is a popular organic acid that is commonly used in sports supplements by bodybuilders and athletes. A new study has found that creatine provides vital support to the immune cells to better fight cancer. Creatine uptake is vital to the anti-tumor activities of CD8 T cells, (also called killer T cells), which are the immune cells tasked with finding and destroying the infected cells.
BCAAs are another extremely popular sports supplement. Daily intake of BCAA has been shown to improve the immune response among athletes undergoing endurance training. Additionally, BCAAs can be used by immune cells within the gut as a fuel source, which allows the immune system to regenerate itself more efficiently and protect against harmful pathogens. In short, BCAA can aid in the building of a strong immune system, which aids in recovery and makes you less likely to get sick.
These established sports ingredients and many more are being studied by leading researchers all over the world, who continue to identify their abilities to provide immune support. In the meantime, they offer great opportunities for sports supplement brands to highlight the dual-benefit of both sports performance and immunity.
Tell us how your use of sports supplements has changed as a result of COVID?