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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS MAY SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS MAY SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
"Improving Public Health, Reducing Health Care Costs: An Evidence-Based Study of Five Dietary Supplements," DaVanzo J, et al, The Lewin Group, September 22, 2004

The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance commissioned this study to do a systematic literature review of the available evidence to date. It was estimated that more than $24 billion in national health care costs could be saved through the scientific use of nutritional supplements. The five products examined were: folic acid, calcium/vitamin D, omega-3 essential fatty acids, saw palmetto, and glucosamine sulfate.

For folic acid, the study found that daily intake of 400 mcg of folic acid by 10.5 million women of childbearing age could lead to 600 fewer babies born with neural tube defects and could save approximately $321,853,000. If this amount were increased to 800 mcg of folic acid even more benefits would result.

In terms of calcium/vitamin D, the study found that daily intake of 1200 mg of calcium with vitamin D by persons over the age of 65 could prevent approximately 734,000 hip fractures over a 5 year period and could save approximately $13.9 billion in health care costs.

For omega-3 essential fatty acids, the review found consistent evidence that omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent cardiovascular disease, and promising evidence of the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depression, renal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

In terms of saw palmetto, the authors discuss evidence of its use for the alleviation of symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Though there has been scores of good research done concerning the efficacy of saw palmetto extracts I have to say that it has not lived up to its promise in my practice.

For glucosamine sulfate (GS), the authors reviewed the evidence of its role as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of osteoarthritis. In my practice, glucosamine sulfate is the single best supplement I've used to help with almost any muscular skeletal problem. GS provides glycosoaminoglycans (gags), the building blocks of cartilage. I find that almost all of the patients I see that have been 'diagnosed' with arthritis are deficient in gags and using GS almost always greatly helps them. Many other people are not helped by GS because of lower quality or insufficient dose/length of dose.

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