As the nation struggles through the dark January days, with vitamin D in short supply, the latest research from Mintel reveals some good news for the “sunshine drug”, as it is crowned Britain’s favorite single vitamin supplement.
According to Mintel, usage of Vitamin D has risen a glowing 7 percentage points in the last year and today it is used by 33% of Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements (VMS) users, up from 26% in 2017. The rise in Vitamin D usage saw it overtake Vitamin C in 2018, to become Britain’s most popular single vitamin supplement. While usage has ticked upwards for all age groups, it is 35-54-year-olds who are the main drivers, with usage rising from 22% in 2017 to 35% in 2018 among this group.
Top five single vitamin supplements
Britain’s top five single vitamin supplements are Vitamin D (33%), Vitamin C (27%), Vitamin B complex (15%), Vitamin A (12%) and Vitamin E (10%). Meanwhile, well over half (56%) of VMS users take multivitamins.
Over the past year, six in ten (59%) Brits have taken VMS. Around one in three (34%) take VMS daily, with women (38%) considerably more likely than men (29%) to do so. Only a quarter (26%) of all Brits have never taken VMS.
Sales of vitamins and supplements are estimated to reach £442 million in 2018, a rise of 6% from £417 million in 2013. The sector is predicted to see a steady rise in value sales over the next five years, with the market forecast to grow a healthy 8% to reach £477 million in 2023.
“The ongoing focus on health, both among consumers and in the public debate, is seeing people take a more proactive approach towards their wellbeing,” says Anita Winther, research analyst at Mintel. “The interest in health is expected to be a major driver for vitamin, minerals and supplements sales, while the ageing population should continue to drive growth in the over-50s segment.”
Vitamin D has proved to be a star performer in the sector, with its health benefits during the winter months continuing to be a popular topic. This will have undoubtedly helped boost usage, raising its profile among Brits, Winther adds.
Calcium, iron usage on the rise
Not to be outshone, calcium and iron usage among VMS users has shown an impressive rise in the last year; calcium usage increasing 9 percentage points (up from 20% in 2017 to 29% in 2018) and iron up 6 percentage points (up from 22% to 28%). The biggest increase for calcium was seen among 25-34-year-olds (up from 25% to 39%), while for iron, it is 35-44 year olds who have upped their intake the most (up from 22% to 36%).
Although vegetarianism remains relatively small, Mintel reveals that a flexitarian lifestyle is likely to be affecting what people look for in their vitamins and supplements. Indeed, more than one in ten (11%) people who use and buy VMS see a vegetarian/vegan claim as an important factor when choosing one vitamin/supplement over another.
A long-term favorite with Brits, cod liver oil/fish oil remains the nation’s number one supplement, taken by 37% of VMS users in the last year. Britain’s remaining top five supplements include calcium (29%), iron (28%), magnesium (16%) and zinc (16%).
“The trend towards meat reduction diets – including both strict vegan diets and the more lenient flexitarian approach – is likely boosting usage of iron,” Winther explains. “With as many as half of meat eaters believing their red meat intake should be limited, it is likely that people are looking to supplements to fill the iron gap left if they are reducing the amount of red meat they eat.”
The rise in usage of calcium could also be linked to the growing focus on plant-based foods, both in terms of vegan diets and dairy avoidance. With just three in ten adults in agreement that fortified foods and drinks are a better source of vitamins and minerals than taking supplements, consumers may well be feeling the need to complement these foods with a supplement, she says.