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LTC medicine chest: Top 10 supplements

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Some of your clients may be supplementing their long-term care insurance (LTCI) protection with fish oil, gingko biloba and other nutritional supplements.

U.S. adults are heavy users of supplements. Many use the products to try to prevent or treat conditions that can lead to use of long-term care (LTC), such as dementia and severe arthritis.

Tainya Clarke and colleagues at federal government research agencies recently looked at use of supplements, along with other types of alternative health strategies, such as acupuncture and meditation, in a summary of newly released National Health Interview Survey survey data. The researchers had NHIS information about 88,962 adults ages 18 and older.

About 41 million U.S. adults used supplements in 2012. The percentage of adults using any supplement held steady, at 18 percent, between 2007 and 2012.

Why could use of supplements be of interest to LTC planners?

  • Use of some supplements might be helpful. Maybe one of those pills really will reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Some supplements might be harmful. Maybe some will increase the risk that users will need LTC services.

  • Some consumers might be taking supplements because they know they have early symptoms of conditions that could lead to use of LTC services.

  • Consumers who are spending $100 per month on supplements that might or might not work might be people who could spend $100 per month on insurance policies that almost certainly will work.

  • Maybe you want ideas about what to try next.

For a look at the 10 supplements most commonly used by U.S. adults, read on.


 Gingko biloba

10. Gingko biloba

Number of adults using, 2012: 1.6 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 3 million

2007-2012 change in use: -46 percent

See also: 12 facts about Alzheimer’s you need to know


9. Ginseng

Number of adults using, 2012: 1.8 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 3.3 million

2007-2012 change in use: -48 percent

See also: Medicare may cut $444 million in erection aid spending


8. Garlic

Number of adults using, 2012: 1.9 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 3.3 million

2007-2012 change in use: -41 percent

See also: PPACA: “Where’s the Garlic?”


7. Cranberry pills or cranberry capsules

Number of adults using, 2012: 1.9 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 1.6 million

2007-2012 change in use: +24 percent

See also: Florida hospitals cutting readmissions


6. Echinacea

Number of adults using, 2012: 2.3 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 4.8 million

2007-2012 change in use: -53 percent

See also: Genomes, nanobots and wearable tech: What’s next will change insurance forever


5. Melatonin

Number of adults using, 2012: 3.1 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 1.3 million

2007-2012 change in use: +136 percent

See also: Drug companies use personal data in marketing campaigns


4. Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10)

Number of adults using, 2012: 3.3 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 2.7 million

2007-2012 change in use: +21 percent

See also: Migraine study ‘opens door’ to research into a cure


3. Probiotics or prebiotics

Number of adults using, 2012: 3.9 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 865,000

2007-2012 change in use: +346 percent

See also: Bubbling yogurt


2. Glucosmaine or chondroitin

Number of adults using, 2012: 6.5 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 7.2 million

2007-2012 change in use: -11 percent

See also: Actuaries Add Ways to Slice Group Disability Valuation Table Data

 Fish oil

1. Fish oil

Number of adults using, 2012: 18 million

Number of adults using, 2007: 11 million

2007-2012 change in use: +73 percent

See also: Fish oil might fight Alzheimer’s 


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