Vitamins and the African American Body
Sequence Multivitamins were designed to meet the needs of African American men, women, and the unique needs of older adults.
Four of five African Americans are vitamin D deficient compared to less than one in three White Americans. The majority population, who most vitamin companies naturally target, have nutritional needs that are substantially different. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with increasing diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and more. African Americans have the highest risk for all of these diseases.
Other vitamin deficiency patterns exist as well in African Americans. A study conducted at Duke University Medical Center found that “in African Americans, but not whites, lower levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C were significantly associated with early markers implicated in cardiometabolic conditions and cancer.”
Higher vitamin C levels were also protective against lead exposure due to the vitamin’s ability to inhibit the intestinal absorption of lead as well as its ability to promote its urinary excretion. Essentially vitamin C acts as a barrier to lead absorption and a promoter of its excretion. Environmentalists confirm that urban air, soil, and water tend to hold comparably higher lead levels due to a history of industrial presence in cities and their proximity to neighborhoods mostly populated with African Americans. Increasing the vitamin C content in a multivitamin for an urban population disproportionately exposed to lead is a sound approach to population health.
IN WITH THE GOOD. OUT WITH THE NOT SO GOOD.
Interestingly, there are significant risks associated with certain vitamins. Unlike most other multivitamins, Sequence Multivitamins has no vitamin E. Vitamin E supplementation was studied in over 130,000 people and those that took 400 IU (the most common supplement dose) or higher, had an overall higher risk of dying from any cause. Vitamin E supplements were also shown to significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. Given that African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial/ethnic group in the United States (including prostate cancer), taking a vitamin that potentially increases these already bad outcomes, makes no sense.
Additionally, unlike most other multivitamins, Sequence Multivitamins has no Vitamin K. Vitamin K is critical for normal blood clotting but African Americans have an increased propensity to form adverse blood clots after surgery and associated with strokes, heart attacks, and other embolisms, therefore additional vitamin K in a multivitamin for this population should also be avoided.
There are also vitamins and minerals that provide glucose stability to people with diabetes. According to the National Institute of Health, African Americans are twice as likely to develop diabetes than White Americans, and first line treatment involves metformin for over half. Metformin can lead to folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Sequence Multivitamins has added folate and vitamin B12. Keeping diabetes stable helps to avoid the related bad outcomes including heart, kidney, and stroke-related risks. Magnesium has also been shown to improve diabetes control and stabilize blood vessels. Sequence Multivitamins are fortified with magnesium.
Potassium has shown benefits in cardiac rhythm stability, blood pressure control, and electrolyte balance. There has been data that suggests African Americans have lower potassium levels overall which could be related to the increased incidence of diabetes and helpful in preventing heart or stroke problems. Sequence Multivitamins has added potassium.
Chromium has promising data that it positively impacts diabetes control across populations. With African Americans having significantly higher risk for diabetes, adding chromium to the Sequence Multivitamins formula was a plus.
Due to its distinctive ability to neutralize free radicals, lycopene is believed to give measurable protection against cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. Evidence suggests that lycopene consumption is associated with decreased risk of various chronic diseases that disproportionately impact African Americans.