The True Price of Prevention
by Larissa Long
Sometimes it seems as though nutritional supplements will never get the respect they deserve. Even though many studies demonstrate a vast array of benefits that come from taking a wide range of dietary supplements, the mainstream media only want to report on the negative—even if the concerns they raise are unfounded or overblown.
Some of the staunchest naysayers even say that vitamins do nothing more than create expensive urine. Well, a new report released by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) shows that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they found that taking certain nutrients can provide significant healthcare savings by reducing hospitalizations and other expenses associated with chronic medical conditions.1
An Ounce of Prevention...
Our healthcare system is much more focused on treating existing diseases than on preventing them in the first place. In fact, according to this CRN report, “75 percent of total U.S. healthcare expenditures are spent on preventable diseases—but only three percent of total healthcare expenditures are invested in disease prevention programs.”
Just imagine how dramatically the landscape of medicine in this country would change if the emphasis turned to preventing diseases from ever taking hold. For one, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t have nearly the stronghold they currently do. Let’s face it, when it comes to disease prevention, there’s little money to be made by Big Pharma—while billions of dollars could be saved by ordinary Americans like you and me.
Take, for example, cardiovascular disease, which encompasses heart disease and stroke. It’s the leading cause of death among American men and women and costs the U.S. a whopping $312.6 billion for healthcare services, medications and lost productivity totals!2 This is ridiculous when you consider that, in most cases, cardiovascular disease is completely preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet, regular exercise, nutritional supplementation and no tobacco use.
In fact, according to this CRN report, taking omega-3 fatty acids, certain B vitamins, phytosterols and psyllium fiber at preventive dosages could save billions of dollars and play a huge role in prevention. The researchers state that, if all adults over the age of 55 who’ve been diagnosed with coronary heart disease—the most common type of heart disease in the United States—took omega-3s, nearly $4 billion could potentially be saved between 2013-2020—with another $4.38 billion in annual savings with psyllium fiber supplementation. And if this same demographic took phytosterols, an additional $4.23 billion per year in hospital costs could be saved.
Moreover, almost 809,000 medical events related to coronary heart disease could be avoided if adults over the age of 55 took the B vitamins folic acid, B6 and B12.
Another area of concern for the aging population is eye disease—particularly cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. But lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation could save an average of $3.87 billion per year in healthcare expenditures. This makes perfect sense, as countless studies show that these two nutrients are well-regarded as the cornerstone of healthy eyes and eye disease prevention.3-5
...Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Fortunately, most supplements are extremely affordable and worth the small upfront expense to preserve your health.
First and foremost, everyone should start by taking a multivitamin. While all Americans can benefit from a high-quality multivitmain, it is even more important for seniors, children, pregnant and nursing women and anyone with known nutritional deficiences.
As you can see, many vitamins play a key role in keeping our bodies healthy and in balance. But because so many Americans’ diets fall short of ideal, we often don’t get enough of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary to function optimally. And even if we did eat the right foods, it’s nearly impossible to get enough of certain nutrients—like omega-3s—from foods alone.
In addition to your multi, it would be prudent to take additional omega-3s for heart health, lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health and calcium, magnesium and vitamin D for bone and heart health. With this solid nutritional foundation, you’re not only reducing your risk of disease but also potentially saving money in the long run.
- Council for Responsible Nutrition. www.crnusa.org/CRNfoundation/HCCS.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth.
- Sasamoto Y. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2011 Dec;249(12):1847-54.
- Seddon JM, et al. JAMA. 1994 Nov 9;272(18):1413-20.
- Connolly EE, et al. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Nov 29;52(12):9207-17.