Scientific Research Documents Health Benefits of Nutritional Supplements
DC, 24 June 2002
use of multivitamins and other key supplements can promote good
health and help prevent disease, according to a comprehensive new
report released today by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
The report found that ongoing use of multivitamins (preferably with
minerals) and other single-nutrient supplements (like calcium or
folic acid) demonstrated quantifiable positive impact in areas ranging
from strengthening the immune system of highly-vulnerable elderly
patients, to drastically reducing the risk of neural tube birth
defects such as spina bifida.
100-plus page report -- titled The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements
-- reviewed more than a decade's worth of the most scientifically-significant
studies measuring the health benefits of multivitamins and other
nutritional supplements, including antioxidants (vitamins C and
E), calcium, long chain omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), vitamin
D, vitamins B-6 and B-12, and folic acid.
medical and scientific communities are rapidly accumulating powerful
evidence about the role of nutritional supplements in both health
promotion and disease prevention," said Annette Dickinson, PhD,
the author of the report and CRN vice president, scientific and
growing critical mass of data underscores the need for health professionals
to do more to encourage patients to get into a regular, defined
routine of supplementation. While it is never too late to start
incorporating supplements into a healthy lifestyle, there is compelling
evidence that consistent, long-term use provides the strongest benefits.
For as little as a dime a day, the cost of a basic multivitamin,
you can make a sound investment in good health," she said. Highlights
from the report findings include:
all women of childbearing age used multivitamins with folic acid,
it should be possible to reduce the current incidence of neural
tube birth defects like spina bifida by as much as 70%.
routine use of multivitamins and mineral supplements by the elderly
could improve immune function and thus reduce infectious disease,
potentially cutting in half the total number of days they are sick.
with calcium and vitamin D could reduce the rate of hip fracture
among older people by at least 20% -- meaning 40,000 to 50,000 fewer
hip fractures each year in the United States -- for an average annual
savings of $1.5 to $2 billion.
potential cost savings of a prevention-oriented approach to health
and diet are tremendous. A 1997 analysis predicted that if the occurrence
of cardiovascular disease, stroke and hip fracture were delayed
five years, total US health care cost savings could equal $89 billion
the addition of a multivitamin would benefit most people, different
additional supplements should be chosen based on the specific lifestage,
gender or lifestyle of the individual. For example, though calcium
is generally important for all men and women, it is particularly
critical for children building bone mass and elderly people seeking
to preserve it.
evidence in support of the health benefits of nutritional supplements
has grown dramatically in recent years," said Jeffrey Blumberg,
PhD, a professor in the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at
Tufts University in Boston. "We must now work to translate this
knowledge to health care providers, policy makers and consumers
so the simple actions people can take to promote their health and
prevent disease can be more fully realized. The impact of a rational
use of dietary supplements can also help reduce health care costs
which escalate every year as our population grows older."
Dickinson noted that while all people should strive to eat a healthy
and balanced diet -- no matter what their age or health circumstance
-- few in reality do. "While the overall improvement of dietary
habits has been the focus of much research on health promotion and
disease prevention, the medical and scientific communities are increasingly
recognizing that nutritional supplements have a critical role to
play. Too many studies have shown that most diets -- even fairly
healthy ones -- fall well below the Recommended Dietary Allowance
for many nutrients. Supplements are a proven bridge between what
we should eat and what we actually eat," she said.
Dickinson is an expert on the benefits of vitamins and minerals
who has worked in the field since 1973. In 1995, President Clinton
appointed Dr. Dickinson to the Commission on Dietary Supplement
Labels, and in 2002 she was named to the Food Advisory Committee
of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She is the author of
numerous papers and is frequently asked to speak on the topic of
dietary supplements to policy-making, scientific and other audiences.
full report and information on how to purchase a copy of The
Benefits of Nutritional Supplements are available on the CRN
website at www.crnusa.org/benefits.html.
Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973 and based
in Washington DC, is a trade association representing ingredient
suppliers and manufacturers in the dietary supplement industry.
CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage
limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards
under good manufacturing practices. The dietary supplement industry
is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal
Trade Commission, as well as by government agencies in each of the
for Responsible Nutrition, via PR Newswire, 24 June 2002.