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The answer to that question has many parts that range from different vitamin needs based on published research to a different health and disease risk for African Americans.
Just as cancer or heart disease can run in a family, there are an array of increased and decreased health risks associated with being a member of the African American family.
Tailoring a multivitamin for African Americans that maximizes the benefit and minimizes the risk is a critically important mission.
Men and women have different vitamin needs at different levels . . . and at different ages. That's why Sequence developed four formulas to address the unique needs of both younger and older African American women and men.
The most dramatic vitamin differences by race or ethnicity relate to vitamin D levels which nutritionists agree is deficient in four of five African Americans.
The widespread vitamin D deficiency is somewhat related to the melanin in darker skin, widespread lactose intolerance (also genetically driven) as well as urban living leading to decreased sun exposure.
The lack of vitamin D has been associated with an array of bad outcomes including increased stroke, heart disease, pre-term birth, and a host of cancers including lung, colon, ovarian, breast, and prostate. Low vitamin D has also been associated with a higher risk for lupus (SLE), multiple sclerosis, diabetes and hypertension.
African Americans have the absolute highest risk for diabetes, hypertension, stroke and the cancers listed. Is this a coincidence? Experts are not sure, but replacing a deficiency makes total sense. The lack of vitamin D has also been linked to worse outcomes in COVID-19 infections.
A multivitamin for African Americans would need to have much more vitamin D.
Vitamin E does have many benefits and its deficiency is associated with significant disease. But studies show that African Americans do not tend to be vitamin E deficient (it is contained in many oils, nuts and greens).
Unfortunately, there has been research that suggested that vitamin E may also cause harm in the the form of an increased risk for some cancers.
African Americans have a dramatically increased risk for cancers of the lung, colon, prostate, breast, pancreas, and others. Why risk increasing the risk . . . if there is no deficiency?
For these reasons, we felt it was safer to leave vitamin E out of a formula for African Americans.
Zinc is an essential trace element that is critical for a variety of biological processes and proper immune function.
Studies have consistently shown zinc deficiencies in African Americans and believe the dramatically increased rate of HIV and hepatitis C in African Americans represents an impaired immune defense linked to lower levels of zinc.
Zinc’s antiviral activity has been confirmed against a variety of viruses and the science of how zinc either prevents infection or slows viral spread is well established.
Lower levels of magnesium in the blood has been associated with the increased occurrence of heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Studies have indicated a greater prevalence of magnesium deficiency in African-Americans when compared to other populations. Increased deficiency should lead to targeted replacement.
In hypertension, for example, the magnesium level impacts the ability of vessels to relax and regulate blood pressure. As a result, nutritional magnesium directly allows the regulation of blood pressure and drives the occurrence of hypertension.
African Americans have documented lower magnesium stores, less consumption as a population, higher hypertension and heart issues . . . and therefore a greater need. In addition, many patients with hypertension are treated with medications that deplete the body of magnesium.
Three out of four African Americans will be diagnosed with hypertension in their lifetime and therefore put on these medications. Proactively replacing magnesium more deliberately in African Americans is merely responding to a documented need.
Incidentally, these same studies showed magnesium stores are much better in Hispanic-Latino populations, therefore their multivitamin would need less magnesium.
Magnesium has also been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer as well as slow its progression and/or recurrence. While white women have the highest breast cancer occurrence rate, African American woman have the highest death rate.
Other studies show magnesium also decreases colon cancer occurrence and progression. Improving magnesium levels in African Americans makes sense from a number of perspectives so our multivitamin has more magnesium.
Lower levels of potassium in African Americans has been documented in numerous populations studies.
African American intake of potassium in their diet is substantially less than whites. This low potassium has been linked to the higher occurrence of diabetes.
This curious relationship has prompted some researchers to suggest that one key approach to diabetes prevention may simply be better potassium supplementation.
Multiple studies have shown that as potassium intake decreased, the incidence of diabetes went up. A multivitamin designed for African Americans would need more potassium.
Clinical research will continue as advances in nutraceuticals progress. Sequence Multivitamins is committed to monitor these scientific outcomes and adjust our formulas accordingly.
All vitamins are not equal, nor are they always beneficial. Taking a multivitamin tailored for your genetic family gives you the best opportunity for maximal health.