Health Impact Study Shows Dietary Supplement Usage Could Save Billions in Health Care Costs

The Lewin Group, Inc. was commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) to conduct an evidence-based study of five dietary supplements that could potentially improve users’ health. Supplements covered in this study include (1) calcium (with Vitamin D), (2) folic acid, (3) omega-3 fatty acids, (4) glucosamine, and (5) saw palmetto.

Lewin was asked to develop estimates of potential cost savings that could result from daily use of only those supplements for which the highest standard of evidence exists at this time, and for which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved health claims. Cost estimates were developed for calcium (with Vitamin D) and folic acid, for which there is significant scientific agreement as to the improvement in health status and subsequent health expenditure reduction. Conservative estimates of savings were developed for specific relevant outcomes: for calcium, estimates of savings for avoided hip fractures among over age-65 were developed. For folic acid, estimates of savings from avoided incidences of babies being born with neural tube defects (NTD) were developed, keeping in mind that not all NTDs are nutritionally related.

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