|Life Extension Update Exclusive |
Study finds supplement use could save US billions
The findings of a study commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, which were presented at a Congressional hearing on September 22 2004, revealed that billions of dollars could be saved each year by supplementation with commonly available nutritional products. The study, conducted by the Lewin Group, focused on calcium with vitamin D, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and saw palmetto.
The study found that daily consumption of 1200 milligrams calcium with vitamin D would save 13.9 billion in hospital, nursing facility and physician expenditures over a projected five year period by preventing hip fractures in people over the age of 65. An estimated 734,000 hip fractures would be avoided if this level of calcium supplementation was implemented in this population.
When folic acid was examined, it was estimated that if 10.5 million women began taking 400 micrograms daily in addition to those already taking the vitamin, as much as $321,853,000 in savings would result from the 600 infants who would not be born with a neural tube defect.
The study summarized the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease and noted that the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality had recommended that multicenter randomized clinical trials be conducted to validate early promising results. Randomized, double-blind clinical trials of glucosamine in arthritis and saw palmetto in benign prostatic hyperplasia are also being conducted to confirm the benefits found in preliminary studies. This will enable researchers to determine the reductions in health service utilization and health care cost savings that would result from widespread supplementation with these nutrients.
Professor Jeffrey Blumberg of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University commented on the study: “As our country faces an ever-growing crisis in health care, it is important to recognize the role that dietary supplements can play in reducing our burden of disease and the costs to manage it.”