Wednesday, February 01, 2012
SCHAUMBURG, Ill.—Supplements save dollars and lives, but evidence is limited by amount of data, support and incentive to do more analysis, according to Russell Jaffe, MD, Ph.D., CCN, senior fellow, Health Studies Collegium, at the Natural Health Research Institute’s (NHRI) 6th Annual Scientific Symposium, on Oct. 28, 2011. However, he said available data suggests America could save lives and money by correcting nutritional deficiencies among its population.
He said available data suggests $135 billion annually could be saved while improving quality of life and health status for those who suffer from diabetes. Use of evidence-based supplements can also save an additional $50 billion to $100 billion by reducing risks and complications of other diseases.
Supplements could further their benefits if product manufacturers addressed limitations to the benefits from supplements, including undocumented quality procedures, the use of “borrowed science" where the ingredients look alike yet do not work alike and lack of research resources to further document potential benefits. Jaffe said full GMPs (good manufacturing practices) are necessary for every supplement, and he encouraged third-party post production analysis from a reference-quality lab, full-disclosure of ingredients on labels, use of evidence-based and quality ingredients, and participation in community-based randomized control trials or double blind placebo-controlled trial.
While deficits in nutrients are common, he said adverse events to dietary supplements are rare. Because he said health is controlled by limiting factor (i.e., the nutrients that aren't there) rather than the abundance of nutrients in the diet, he said it's important to get at least the minimum daily requirement of all vitamins and minerals.
Jaffe said the NHANEs III and NHANES IV surveys reported dietary deficiencies are common and growing. According to that research, 87 percent of people had one or more deficiency, and 58 percent of people had two or more deficiencies.
Other studies have reported the cost-saving potential of supplements. For instance, the Lewin Group, Health Impact Study IV found use of evidence-based supplements can save an additional $50 billion to $100 billion while improving human function. The Lewin study also focused on specific supplements: calcium with vitamin D use could decrease hip fractures, saving $13.9 billion; folate could reduce neural tube defects, saving $250 million; omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) could reduce coronary heart disease (CHD), saving $60 million; glucosamine could reduce osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, saving $50 million; saw palmetto could reduce benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), saving $10 million; the carotenoid combination of lutein and zeaxanthin could cut age-related macular degeneration (AMD), saving $2.5 billion; ascorbates (vitamin C) could reduce scurvy, saving $17 billion to $70 billion; and a daily multivitamin could reduce a host of diseases, saving $15 billion.
Jaffe presented the results of a cost-effectiveness analysis that suggested glucosamine sulfate is a highly cost-effective therapy alternative compared with the prescription drug paracetamol to treat patients with knee OA. He said glucosamine sulphate for knee OA management could save $1 billion to $2 billion in Europe.
Jaffe said diabetes is a major source of cost and morbidity in the United States. He said diabetes costs increase 2.5 percent faster than overall health care costs. According to research Jaffe said he and colleagues conducted, diabetes patients who supplement with protective antioxidants such as ascorbates, polyphenolics, carotenoids, vitamins E, B vitamins, vitamin D3, minerals, carnitine, choline, omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), prebiotics, probiotics and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) could reduce their medical care costs by 75 percent to 95 percent, saving $130 billion, he said. Also, if diabetes patients added 15 minutes of walking and 15 minutes of stretching each day, they could realize an 80-percent to 98-percent reduction in diabetes risks and morbidity.
Jaffe said he helped conduct a study on that found if type 2 diabetics (who were already receiving best standards of care) used the above-mentioned nutrients for six months, they reduced their fasting glucose sores by 20 percent compared to the control group, whose scores went up 9 percent. These patients also reduced their insulin fasting scores by 18 percent; the control group saw a 12-percent drop.
Diabetes patients who take supplements also feel they are in better health, he said nothing a survey that said they believe they are healthier than diabetes patients who do not take supplements.
NHRI is an independent organization that supports research on natural health and wellness. Its objectives are to promote research on science-supported approaches to optimal health and wellness; bring respected scientists and world-renowned thought leaders together at scientific conferences to share their research with other scientists and the public; study and promote the public health benefits and cost-of-care savings that can be achieved by widespread, responsible use of science-based dietary ingredients and related natural approaches to health and wellness; and encourage young scientists to engage in university-directed research on natural health remedies and the public-health benefits that can be achieved to help developed and developing countries reduce chronic disease and its associated cost-of-care burdens