Washington, D.C.—“There is so much we can do to maintain health. With evidence pointing to a correlation between poor nutrition and poor immune response to pathogens that make us sick, it is very reasonable to screen for nutrient deficiencies and consider taking supplements such as a multivitamin and vitamin D.” That was a major point made by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., speaking at the final (DSC) briefing of 2020 held earlier in December. The educational event was sponsored by the bipartisan, bicameral Dietary Supplement Caucus with assistance from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA).

Dr. Low Dog, an expert in integrative medicine and women’s health, spoke to congressional staffers about the role of dietary supplements in supporting immune health and more, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis. She discussed the importance of proactive health maintenance, including addressing nutrient deficiencies that increase risk of infection and disease, according to a joint press release from the four trade associations. Of course, the point was made that while dietary supplements play an important role in supporting overall health and wellness, no supplement may claim to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19 or any other disease.

Speaking to how we can fare better in the face of the next major pandemic, Dr. Low Dog emphasized that there are precautionary means individuals can take to reduce the duration and severity of disease. She backed up her message by highlighting research that demonstrates the supportive role micronutrients like zinc as well as vitamins A, C, and D, can play in reducing the risk of acute infection and/or enhancing the body’s response to vaccinations, as well as potentially shortening the duration and severity of disease. Dr. Low Dog added that significant portions of the American population are deficient in these essential nutrients, and as noted in the release, supplementation is often a reliable, cost-efficient strategy for addressing deficiencies that predispose individuals to serious disease.

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“In the United States, we suffer from a disconnect between telling Americans that they are getting all of their essential nutrients from their diet alone, and the data that show that they are not,” said Dr. Low Dog. “Policies should focus on increasing access to minimally processed nutrient dense foods, and our reimbursement system should cover testing for micronutrient deficiencies that can be particularly important for our most vulnerable populations.”