Supplement industry applauds F&S economic report, urges additional action

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Supplement industry applauds F&S report, urges action

Related tags: Health care, Nutrition, Vitamin

The supplement industry largely commended Monday’s Council for Responsible Nutrition-commissioned report that found that dietary supplements could save billions of dollars in health care costs, while also urging political leaders and health care practitioners to get the US government and insurance companies on board with preventive health care practices.

“It’s clear that we need to shift our nutrition paradigm when only 3 percent of US health care dollars are spent on prevention,” ​Ludger Eilers, business manager of dietary supplements at BASF Nutrition & Health, a supplier of ingredients including omega-3s and phytosterols, told NutraIngredients-USA. “Our science-backed products can all contribute to enhancing health, whether it’s plant sterols for cholesterol reduction or Tonalin CLA for weight management. Our industry must work together to educate influencers from government leaders to health care practitioners so consumers better understand the benefits of dietary supplements​.”  

“When you consider that coronary heart disease is one of the costliest diseases in the United States, coupled with the potential enormous economic impact benefit of increasing intake of EPA & DHA, it’s hard to believe that the US government hasn’t established a recommended intake level,” ​said Harry Rice, PhD and vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s.

For the report, titled Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements​, researchers at Frost & Sullivan reviewed hundreds of scientific studies on eight dietary supplement regimens in a targeted sample of US adults 55-plus who have specific conditions or are at high risk of developing the conditions. The supplement regimens studied were: calcium plus vitamin D, magnesium, lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3s, B vitamins (folic acid, B6 and B12), psyllium dietary fiber, phytosterols and chromium picolinate.

The researchers found that routinely taking these supplements at preventive intake levels could reduce the number of disease-associated medical events in this high-risk population, demonstrating a potential savings of hundreds of millions (even billions) of dollars in health care costs. Read NutraIngredients-USA's initial coverage of the F&S report.

In response to the findings, the National Osteoporosis Foundation declined to comment directly, pointing to its clinician’s guide of universal recommendations based on the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, which also emphasizes a preventive approach to maintaining bone health.

“Lifelong adequate calcium intake is necessary for the acquisition of peak bone mass and subsequent maintenance of bone health,” according to the guide. “The NOF supports IOM recommendations that men age 50-70 consume 1,000 mg per day of calcium and that women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older consume 1,200 mg per day of calcium.”

Aging population means more affected

The US population is skewing increasingly older … and living much longer. Indeed, the Adminstration on Aging found that as of 2009, one in every eight Americans (39.6 million) was aged 65 and older. By 2030, that number is expected to double, to about 72.1 million, meaning the incidence of age-related conditions will likely double as well, at the very least. This likelihood isn’t helped by the fact that many Americans are deficient in a number of these nutrients in their diets, as Kemin noted in a press release issued yesterday.  

"Over the next 15 years, age-related eye diseases are expected to triple due to an aging population and longer life expectancies,”​ said Heather Richardson, Kemin product manager of FloraGLO brand lutein and ZeaONE brand zeaxanthin, in the release. “The Frost & Sullivan study accurately points out that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are a small investment when it comes to increasing your quality of life, maintaining your independence and reducing potential costly health events.”

‘Strong body of science’ means time to act 

"Supporting the findings in this report is a significant body of clinical studies and safety data spanning more than 25 years on chromium picolinate (and brand, Chromax),"​ said Michael Satow, president and CEO of Nutrition 21, in a news release. "Understanding the link between clinically sound dietary supplementation and health care cost savings will help stakeholders including patients, health care professionals, governments, insurance companies and employers make better decisions that minimize costs and maximizes long term potential benefits."

GOED’s Rice further concluded that the complicated set of factors affecting chronic disease have prevented a Dietary Reference Intake review, though the growing body of research suggests the timing might be right.

“Because chronic diseases are not nutrient specific, rather multi-factorial with other contributing factors (i.e. genetics, lifestyle, environment, other nutrients), there has been a certain amount of reluctance to establish a recommended intake based on chronic disease risk reduction,” ​he said.”This doesn’t mean, however, that the approach isn’t without precedent.

“That is, of the approximately three dozen government-established nutrient recommendations, a handful have been based on chronic disease risk reduction. From GOED’s perspective, the potential economic impact benefit of EPA & DHA, along with the strong body of science in this area, provides a compelling reason to initiate a Dietary Reference Intake review.”​ 

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