Vitamins Cut Health Care Costs: Billions could be saved if more took them

If governments covered the cost of a daily multivitamin for the older population, it could save health care costs in the long run, according to an economic impact study by a US health care consulting company, The Lewin Group. They determined that increased daily intake of a multivitamin by older adults could save the US Medicare system more than $1.6 billion over five years.

“The available evidence most strongly supports the beneficial effects of multivitamins in improved immune functioning and a reduction in the relative risk of heart disease,” the report concludes.

The group analyzed 128 clinical studies and other sources and concluded that older adults who take a daily multivitamin can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24% and improve their immune system function.

They estimate it would cost about $149 million to provide each American over age 65 with a daily multivitamin in 2004. However, the health benefits offered by supplementing with the vitamins and minerals would reduce the costs of nursing home stays, hospitalizations and home health care associated with pneumonia and other infections by about $83 million. Another $215 million would be saved due to lower hospital admissions from heart disease. Over five years, the total savings were estimated to be $1.6 billion.

The study notes that only about one-third of Americans take a daily multivitamin, and many of those still fall short of recommended daily intakes for nutrients.

HealthDayNews, Oct 9, 2003-10-14