Research continues to support the reality that nutritional supplements prevent disease and reduce healthcare costs. They also reduce the risk of malnutrition.
Large Irish study
For example, a recent study from the Irish Medical Journal found that nutritional supplements may reduce hospitalization by over 160,000 bed days per year. Their research utilized a review of research as well as malnutrition scores from different hospitals.
They found that some 36 percent of inpatient bed days are related to conditions caused by medium or high malnutrition.
Billions of healthcare costs can be saved
A 2013 report found that taking certain dietary supplements for disease prevention will save billions of dollars of healthcare costs for treating chronic diseases in the U.S.
The new research, published by Frost & Sullivan and written by Christopher Shanahan and Robert Lorimer, focused upon only the following diseases:
- Coronary heart disease
- Diabetes-related to heart disease
- Diseases of the eyes related to aging
The report examined the findings of numerous clinical studies that tested particular supplements for these diseases. The researchers then estimated the cost to treat those diseases and the potential savings in healthcare costs by taking the particular supplements.
Here is a summary of their findings:
The use of supplements that help prevent coronary artery disease, including phytosterols, dietary fiber, omega-3 supplements, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 could save over $63 billion in healthcare costs over the next seven years (2013-2020) – before supplementation costs.
The savings of the same heart-oriented supplements in the control of diabetes is nearly $10 billion over the seven years – and $7.76 billion after the costs of the supplements are considered.
Vision supplements such as lutein and zeaxanthin could save the healthcare system – in cataract surgery and other procedures – over $3.8 billion a year – and $7.73 billion a year after the costs of the supplementation is considered.
Supplements for osteoporosis, such as vitamin D (sunshine), calcium and magnesium could save the U.S. healthcare system over $4.75 billion over the next seven years according to the research – after the cost of the supplementation is factored in.
Steve Mister, President of the Council for Responsible Nutrition responded to the research. “Chronic disease takes a huge toll on people’s quality of life, and the health care system spends a tremendous amount of money treating chronic disease, but has failed to focus on ways to reduce those costs through prevention,” said Mister.
This is simply the tip of the iceberg.
The study only focused upon a few conditions and a few nutritional supplements. A number of studies have showed that nutrients offered through the diet are often clinically more beneficial than those offered in supplement form – assuming enough healthy foods are eaten.
At the same time, it is recognized by most health experts that our modern diets generally lack many nutrients – as they are focused on processed, over-cooked nutrient-robbed foods. Thus a supplement program that includes some basic nutrients is seen as a preventative measure.
It should also be added that this research does not cover the use of superfoods and herbs that can easily be included into the diet, including turmeric, cilantro and many others – which add dense nutrients and plant compounds that research has determined staves off these and many other diseases.
And finally, the most obvious takeaway is that this study only focused upon four chronic ailments out of hundreds of others that cost hundreds of billions of dollars of healthcare costs. Thus we can easily conclude that this study reveals only the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about 75% of healthcare costs in the U.S. go towards treatment of chronic disease, while only 3% goes towards prevention.
Horton S. Economics of Nutritional Interventions. Nutrition and Health in a Developing World pp 33-45, Feb. 2017
Rice, N; Nugent, A; Byrne, D; Normand, C. Potential of earlier detection and treatment of disease related malnutrition with oral nutrition supplements to release acute care bed capacity. Lenus Irish Health Repository. June, 2016.
Black RE, Victora CG, Walker SP, Bhutta ZA, Christian P, De Onis M, Essati J, Grantham-McGregor S, Katz J, Martorell R, Uauy R and the Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet. 2013;382:427–51.
Shanahan C, de Lorimier R. Smart Prevention – Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements. Frost & Sullivan. 2013. Sept 23.
Council for Responsible Nutrition. NEW ECONOMIC REPORT FINDS DIETARY SUPPLEMENT USAGE HELPS REDUCE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETAL HEALTH CARE COSTS. Press Release, September 23, 2013.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.