Natural Foods Merchandiser

Supplements could save billions in health care costs

More than $24 billion in national health care costs could be saved, according to a new study, if key U.S. populations would make appropriate use of select dietary supplements.

The study, conducted by the Lewin Group for the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, estimated potential cost savings that could result from daily use of certain "supplements for which the highest standard of evidence exists at this time, and for which the Food and Drug Administration has approved health claims." Lewin Group analysts combed Internet and print journals for information and research about each supplement's efficacy, then plugged results into a peer-reviewed model to estimate cost savings.

For example, if people on Medicare used calcium and vitamin D supplements appropriately, they could avoid 776,000 hip fractures over five years, resulting in $16.1 billion in savings. If one-fourth of American women of childbearing age began supplementing their diets correctly with folic acid, neural-tube defects could be prevented in hundreds of newborns, saving as much as $1.4 billion in five years. And daily omega-3 supplement?ation could save $3.2 billion by reducing coronary heart disease.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 6/p.14

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