A new report, Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements, issued by the economic firm Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation, suggests that dietary supplement use not only provides health benefits, but also offers significant savings, potentially "hundreds of millions of dollars—and in some cases billions" in health care costs.

To compile the report, researchers reviewed hundreds of scientific studies on eight dietary supplement regimens—omega-3, B vitamins, phytosterols, psyllium dietary fiber, chromium picolinate, lutein and zeaxanthin, calcium and vitamin D, and magnesium—across four diseases to determine the reduction in disease risk from these preventative practices. The firm then projected the rates of medical events across high-risk populations and applied cost-benefit analyses to determine the cost savings if people at high risk took supplements at preventative intake levels.

The report cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which notes that 75 percent of U.S. health care dollars go to the treatment of chronic disease with only 3 percent spent on prevention. According to CDC, the expected cost for inpatient procedures and emergency room visits related to coronary heart disease are expected to cost $77.92 billion per year. Frost & Sullivan researchers contend that if men and women (ages 55 and older) with elevated cholesterol levels took psyllium dietary fiber at preventative intake levels on a daily basis, the cost savings for coronary heart disease-related treatment could be almost $2.5 billion a year. If all women older than 55 with osteoporosis took calcium and vitamin D at preventative intake levels on a daily basis, the cost savings could equal $1.5 billion a year, the report states.

Calling the report’s findings "game changing," Frost & Sullivan Global Program Manager Chris Shanahan said, "I anticipate this report will fuel the critical conversation around the importance of preventive health care practices to control health care spending, and the critical role dietary supplements can play in reducing the risk of medical events associated with these diseases."