Interesting Facts

Vitamin D is one of the widely discussed vitamins which frequently attracts media attention. Every so often we hear about deficiencies affecting the entire population followed by not infrequent opinions about its toxicity. Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption, promotes the balance of immune system, indirectly influencing our physical and mental well-being.

 

Things you should know about vitamin D to stop fearing it

 

Inconsistent media communication varying from reports on successful studies of the Polish research institutions on the significance of vitamin D for human body, to incomplete information on its properties, can easily cause concerns related to its supplementation. We should be aware that vitamin D is a specific chemical compound that we cannot get enough from our diets and its production through skin in response to UV rays is insufficient, especially in northern latitude countries such as Poland. That is why manufacture of dietary supplements must take into account preparations with vitamin D.

Vitamin D is synthesized in skin layers but requires a compound present in our diet (cholesterol derivative) which, in response to sunlight, is converted into pro-vitamin and then into vitamin. That's what theory says. But what does reality look like? In fact, it is impossible to get from our diet adequate levels of vitamin D that would ensure healthy body functions. One of few foods high in vitamin D is eel. It's also present in other fatty fish but these are reluctantly eaten due to their high calorific value. Other foods known as a good source of vitamin D include eggs, milk, cheese and plant oils, but all of them contain only small amounts of vitamin D. Even extended exposure to sunlight will not help in the synthesis of vitamin D, if our body receives inadequate level of the building substance.

The prevailing sedentary lifestyle with irregular physical activity significantly reduces natural synthesis of vitamin D. We spend most of our lives working or resting within the four walls of our offices, homes and flats. This is true for the entire population, not only working age population. Especially affected are babies and school children who need vitamin D as an important bone-building substance because of the growth processes in their bodies. Not long ago, an average child spent enough time outdoors in spring and summer to synthesize the vitamin. Today, things have changed. Sunscreens with sun protection factor recommended by dermatologists, block UV rays preventing not only sunburns but also the synthesis of pro-vitamin D. Elderly people are affected as a result of other factors: with age their lifestyle becomes even more sedentary due to limited mobility and their skin's ability to absorb UV rays declines so it can no longer be considered a sufficient source of vitamin D supply. Vitamin D deficiency in children during growth leads to rickets and in adults who do not supplement it, may lead to bone decalcification, and, as we know, skeletal demineralization results in increased bone fracture risk. That is why manufacturers of dietary supplements and brand owners are faced with a challenge of adjusting the right type of vitamin D preparation to the right population group affected by deficiency of this substantial component. 

Vitamin D is not toxic though such opinions are heard every now and then. However, as for any other chemical compound, excessive amounts of vitamin D in your body may have negative effects. That is why it is so important to dose dietary supplements as recommended in the included leaflet by manufacturers of softgel capsules, sachets or any other supplementation form. 

 


Vitamin D – balanced body and strong bones

 

It is worth paying attention to frequently deficient nutrients. Apart from easily identifiable magnesium deficiency, also vitamin D deficiency affects an increasing proportion of population. Given its properties promoting calcium absorption, vitamin D-eficient persons are more susceptible not only to fractures but also to falls because vitamin D deficiency weakens our muscles. This deficiency negatively affects also other body systems, not only skeletal system. Our immune system seems to be overloaded, thereby losing resistance to some autoimmune diseases. Studies on vitamin D significance for human body are of particular interest to pharmaceutical firms manufacturing dietary supplements as new results extend the range of potential supplementation. For it should be acknowledged that in today's world, without supplementation, it is impossible to satisfy all body needs from our diet or lifestyle alone. 

Conclusions from studies on significance of vitamin D may be surprising in terms of their global nature. Researchers linked common deficiency of this compound with cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, fertility problems and impaired functioning of the central nervous system. These numerous negative effects of persistent vitamin D deficiency are becoming a key driver for manufacturers of sachets and other supplementation forms to extend the variety of patient-friendly supplementation forms containing the vitamin. It should be stressed that vitamin D, as an important substance promoting calcium absorption, is absolutely vital for pregnant and breast-feeding women as well as newborns given the development of the child's bone structure. That is why supplementation is recommended to this and a number of other population groups. 

In Poland, supplementation of vitamin D is recommended to the entire population, however,   persons particularly susceptible to deficiency should take the supplementation seriously. Among them are premature babies, obese persons, those working at nights and persons with dark skin pigmentation.

Given the variety of consumer groups with recommendation of vitamin D supplementation, manufacturers of dietary supplements containing the vitamin should ensure variety of forms in which they may come. Elderly people require different supplementation forms than newborns or toddlers. Pregnant and breast-feeding women prefer vitamin and mineral complexes to avoid taking several different dietary supplements. Physical properties of vitamin D allow to meet all those needs. Fat-soluble vitamin may come in a variety of forms, from softgel capsules, sachets to hard capsules or tablets. As tablets contain no fat, it is recommended to take vitamin D with fatty meal.

IOC is a manufacturer of supplements under its clients' own brands, it meets market expectations by creating complex preparations containing, apart from vitamin D, also vitamin A, K, calcium and other minerals that come in all available forms of supplementation.

 

 

Based on article by J. Łukaszewicz (The Polish Council for Supplements and Nutritional Foods - KRSiO): "Witamina D: mity i fakty"

 

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Read more: Dietary Supplements Market

What are dietary supplements?

 

It is difficult to unambiguously define dietary supplements. These substances are constantly tested and their composition and significance for human health arouse controversy among dieticians, doctors and pharmacists. More significantly, it has not been defined what quantity of vitamins and minerals in the diet is safe.

Each dietary supplement is treated as a substance consisting of a valuable source of nutrients and substances with a physiological effect. Dietary supplements may be introduced into circulation in the form of capsules, tablets, sachets with powder or ampoules with liquids that may be consumed in strictly defined quantities. According to the definition of dietary supplements, these substances may be used only when we are not able to supply our body with the required amount of vitamins or minerals for a number of different reasons.

There are also more official definitions of dietary supplements. According to the Law of 25 August 2006 on Food Safety and Nutrition, dietary supplements are substances that are intended to complement the diet. These substances constitute a concentrated source of minerals, vitamins and other compounds that may be consumed in specified quantities for a particular nutritional purpose. The law clearly indicates that dietary supplements do not have medicinal properties (in the light of pharmaceutical law). They may not be used for fighting diseases – medicines have a proven therapeutic potential and are required to undergo clinical tests. Contrary to medicines, dietary supplements are not registered as medicinal products. What is more, their composition is variable and depends on the market prosperity.

Dietary supplements may include substances based on vitamins, minerals or other compounds that have particular nutritional or physiological values. This means that a dietary supplement may not only contain vitamins or minerals but also amino acids, lecithin, fibre or certain fatty acids. Besides they may also be enriched with compounds of plant or animal origin, such as shark cartilage or coenzyme Q10.

 

The application of dietary supplements is related to certain benefits. These products may not only nourish the organism or supply the daily diet with valuable nutrients, but also improve concentration and memory, vitalise or even protect the body against the impact of harmful factors such as air pollution or UV radiation. Supplements may become a perfect alternative for a diet, especially for those who do not care about a balanced diet. What is more, vitamins, minerals and compounds that are ingredients of dietary supplements additionally take part in different biological processes taking place in the human body. They may support the functions of the nervous, cardio-vascular and skeletal systems.

 

Read more: Definition of dietary supplements

Every one of us is health-conscious. In order to eat healthily we should pay particular attention to the content of the food that we eat and the nutrients it contains. Count calories and keep to regular mealtimes. We want the best quality for ourselves and our closest relatives, but by eating highly processed food and in a rush we do not absorb enough valuable nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals), or they are not absorbed well enough. We seek a solution to this problem in dietary supplements.

Supplement, not replace

All dietary supplements are provided with a note 'The product must not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet'. This important note informs us of the substances that should be included in our diet because they are difficult to absorb or are not included in our diet. Supplement does not mean replace. A balanced diet is one which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw steamed products, minimally processed, and will never be replaced by a handful of vitamin or mineral tablets. Many supplements (especially in the form of tablets) also include substances that are not needed by the body and are cleared out by the liver. The liver is an organ that will not let harmful substances through to the bloodstream. By cleaning the blood, it 'poisons' itself. Taking many tablets will cause the liver to stop any superfluous substances that are required for creating the 'carrier' of the supplement, from further circulation.

'Dietary supplements are products composed of nutrients and regarded as complementation to ordinary food. They are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals or other substances. They are manufactured in a form that enables dosage (tablets, capsules, powder or liquid)'.

Dietary supplementation consists in the complementation of the daily diet with components that we do not include in our food and that are indispensable for proper functioning of the body. Do we need dietary supplements? No, not if we eat healthily and our diet is perfectly balanced. The exceptions to this are ill people whose bodies are not capable of absorbing sufficient amounts of certain substances. But dietary supplements are not aimed at such people, but food for special medical purposes (which is also manufactured by IOC). Unfortunately, most of us can only dream about a perfectly balanced diet. We are living in busy times when it is hard to treat nutrition with due diligence, eat systematically 5 times a day at a fixed time, or balance each meal in terms of nutrition and calorie content. Research suggests that less than 10% of us eat 5 meals a day. For each meal to be properly absorbed by the body, chunks of food need to be chewed about 40 times. Who does this? All those who do not will find help from the producers of functional food (fortified food, dietary supplements, foodstuffs for special medical and nutritious purpose).

Supplementation is not required by anyone who systematically eats 5 times a day, whose meals are well balanced, eats not highly-processed food, chews each chunk at least 40 times and is not exposed to stress – someone with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Read more: Should taking dietary supplements receive consideration

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