A new study confirms the powerful effects that low-cost dietary supplements can have on our health. Let’s support legislation to make supplements more affordable and more widely available to Americans. Action Alert!
A recent study found that those taking multivitamins were 3 years “younger” in terms of their memory function than those taking a placebo. This builds on evidence from last year finding that multivitamins slowed memory and cognitive decline. And here’s the kicker: these benefits were found despite the fact that Centrum Silver—a lower quality big seller in supermarket and pharmacy chains, widely viewed as having limited health value by integrative healthcare providers—was the multivitamin used in the study! This is a testament to the benefits that dietary supplements can provide us; let’s support multiple bills in Congress that would make these products more available to Americans by allowing them to be covered expenses for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs).
Consider that almost 40 percent of those over age 65 experience some form of memory loss. More than 10 percent of people over 65 have Alzheimer’s. It is truly remarkable that a simple (low quality) multivitamin improved memory while we’ve heard about dozens and dozens of Alzheimer’s drugs failing. The benefits of multivitamins and B vitamins, especially when taken alongside Omega 3 fatty acids, in reducing cognitive decline are now well demonstrated scientifically, something drug companies don’t want the public to know.
Many of us who are aware of the extensive science that shows that it is the natural forms of vitamins that often deliver superior effects compared with their synthetic versions have been surprised – albeit pleasantly – that these results were delivered by Centrum Silver, a product originally made by Wyeth, then Pfizer – and now Haleon. A look at Centrum’s ingredients shows that many of the vitamins are synthetic and are present in inferior and often the least absorbable forms. For example, Centrum contains magnesium oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenate and synthetic vitamin E. Centrum also contains unfriendly excipients including titanium dioxide, modified corn starch, the artificial colors Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, and Yellow 6 Lake, not to mention hydrogenated palm oil and talc.
The point is, using a quality multivitamin would likely deliver even more benefits. Full spectrum natural vitamin E, containing all 4 tocopherols and tocotrienols, outperforms synthetic vitamin E in terms of being more bioavailable, having a much wider range of benefits, and being retained in body tissue longer.
Another example is vitamin B12. Most commercially available B12 comes in two forms (although there are in fact a total of five recognized forms of B12): cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin, the form in Centrum Silver, is the most popular because it is cheap to produce and has a longer shelf life. Once taken, cyanocobalamin needs to be converted into an active form of the vitamin, methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. The problem is that some patients with the MTHFR mutation cannot properly perform this conversion, so they must take methylcobalamin, which is why many integrative doctors prefer methylcobalamin supplementation. About 10-30 percent of people are affected by this genetic mutation.
Importantly, legislation now in Congress, if passed, will expand access to multivitamins and dietary supplements in general. For years now, ANH-USA has supported the Health Savings Act. The current bill, S. 1158/HR 2959, allows HSA funds to go toward dietary supplements. This bill also includes health coaches and nutrition services as allowable expenses. Additionally, the recently-introduced Dietary Supplements Access Act would allow HSA and FSA funds to go towards supplements. If passed, these bills will improve access to wellness and nutrition services for millions of people by allowing them to use pre-tax dollars for these expenses.
HSAs allow consumers to pay for current health care expenses and save for future expenses. They offer a number of advantages. First, HSA contributions are tax-deductible. Second, the interest earned on money in the account is tax-free. Third, tax-free withdrawals can be made for qualified medical expenses. HSAs are also a good way to put money aside for health expenses later in life, when these costs may increase.
By making things like health coaches, nutrition services, and dietary supplements more affordable, these bills are about increasing consumer choice and empowering individuals to take a proactive approach to their health, allowing more people to live long, healthy lives.
Action Alert! Write to Congress and tell them to support the Health Savings Act of 2023 and the Dietary Supplement Access Act of 2023. Please send your message immediately.