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New research suggests the use of supplements could save the NHS billions
Typical Western diets are widely acknowledged to be nutritionally inadequate; this is the result of several factors including a decline in cooking skills, out of town supermarkets and soil depleting industrial farming practises. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, neural tube defects, eye sight deterioration, cognitive decline, depression and behavioural problems are just some of the conditions that may be prevented, slowed or partially managed by key nutritional supplements, potentially saving the NHS billions on pharmaceutical drugs and other health care costs.
Over the past several years, the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau has commissioned The Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm, to conduct a series of studies to examine the potential health care cost savings from the use of dietary supplements.
Four "Health Impact" studies were conducted. Health care cost savings if key supplements were to become generally used were estimated based on the current prevalence and financial impact of certain health conditions. The analysis is based on U.S data, but the results indicate the potential impact of supplement use on the health-care costs of industrialised nations in general.
Analysis uncovered overwhelming evidence that routine use of calcium and folic acid by target groups would dramatically reduce health care costs.
The researchers conclude: "There is considerable rigorous evidence supporting the effect of calcium on reducing bone loss and/or osteoporosis among post-menopausal women, especially when taken with vitamin D." The researchers calculated that daily use of calcium with vitamin D would result in health care savings of $13.9 billion over 5 years.
Scientists now concur that the occurrence of neural tube defects (NTDs) is reduced if women consume folic acid or a folic acid-containing supplement before they become pregnant, and continue to do so in the early stages of pregnancy. The researchers calculated that "if 10.8 million women began taking 400μg of folic acid on a daily basis, approximately 600 babies would be born without NTDs, savings of as much as $326 million as a result."
Health care costs have risen in parallel with life expectancy. The authors estimated that savings over 5 years resulting from a reduction in the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD) among the over age-65 population through daily intake of approximately 1800 mg of omega-3 fatty acids would be $3.1 billion. Similarly the savings made in reduced incidence of age related macular degeneration (ARMD), which often results in the suffer becoming dependent, as a result of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation would amount to an estimated $2.5 billion over five years.
Adult onset diabetes is associated with unhealthy life-styles. This study examined the use of dietary supplements among diabetics; it found that diabetic supplement users report being in better health than non-users.
This study is an update of the previous three. The key findings of the research included:
This research is a stark indicator of the strength of evidence linking optimal nutrition to optimal health; it is also a stunning indictment of the view that a holistic approach to health care and the maxim that prevention is better (and cheaper!) than cure.