The latest research from Mintel shows Brits spend almost £500 million on vitamins and supplements – and the nation is demonstrating an ‘insatiable appetite’ for vitamin D.

With British Summer Time having come to an end and sunlight now in short supply in the UK, Mintel has revealed that new research shows that ‘the nation’s use of the sunshine vitamin is growing faster than any other vitamin supplement’.

The report states that the growth of vitamin D – up eight percentage points in the past 12 months to now be consumed by 38% of VMS users – ‘outshines’ all other vitamins. With the exception of vitamin C, it says, consumption of other single vitamins such as B complex, A and E have declined over the same period. Vitamin C’s own growth has been marginal, up 1% from 2019 to sit at 29%. ‘Catch-all’ multivits remain stable at 51%.

Emilia Greenslade, Mintel OTC and personal care analyst, says surging demand for vitamin D is likely to be due to its associations with ‘immunity and memory improvement’ as well as the ‘highly publicized research linking vitamin D with protection against COVID-19’.

“Government advice may have also impacted usage, with the Government advising that people consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D as social distancing sees people spend [less] time in the sunlight and more time indoors,” says Greenslade.

This increased attention on vitamin D has helped push the VMS sales towards a ‘five-year record rise’ of 9% in 2020, according to Mintel, pushing the category to reach £494 million. Based on recent growth, forecasts for 2021 position the VMS market at an estimated £515 million, rising to £559 million by 2025.

The broader picture

Greenslade believes the soaring sales can be attributed not to newcomers to the VMS market, but to existing supplements consumers whose basket spend has grown in response to the virus outbreak; 24% of supplements users have increased their intake. “The number of users remains the same, with the rise in value of the category in 2020 driven by increased usage amongst existing users,” she says.

Here, she points to an opportunity: “Driving habits amongst occasional users is essential to ensure long-term engagement and sustained value growth, and brands can do this by using apps to set reminders and create schedules or offering specialized plans giving consumers more structure to routines.”

Mintel’s research shows that 36% of people see VMS as a way ‘to strengthen their immune system’ in light of the pandemic, while 15% have been taking them to improve their mood and 13% to combat stress.