A report funded by a Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation grant made the case for supplementation as a key component in any healthcare cost reduction strategy. It's not news to those in the industry who already know the health benefits associated with supplementation. But for the consumer media so quick to run a negative headline, this may come as a bit of a shock.
Here's the secret. Dietary supplements are not only a part of a healthy diet, they also beget healthier behaviors. And America is at the precipice of becoming a whole lot more interested in healthier behaviors. After all, the cost burden shift from the employer to the consumer will only continue. And as consumers assume more and more of those healthcare costs, reports like this will help make the case that supplementation is worth a look as a cost containment tool.
Then you won't need the Internal Revenue Service (which oversees flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts), or Congress for that matter, to pass rules or legislation making supplements a tax-subsidized expense. You won't need that because private insurers will begin to see the wisdom in supplementing a consumer's good supplementation habits.
However, this may be a double-edged sword for the dietary supplement industry who play in the mainstream retail space. As interest in supplementing grows, so too will interest in regulating industry outliers. And while that helps to put illegitimate supplement companies out of business, it also serves up some tantalizing headlines to the mass media, who necessarily do not distinguish between outlier supplement companies that nobody's heard of and established, responsible supplement companies that distribute through food, drug and mass outlets.
That may only be a short-term consequence, though. For the longer term, there is a great opportunity for pharmacy retailers to help educate the public as to what supplements can and cannot do. It's a great opportunity to justify inclusion of supplements in any medication therapy management or disease-state management counseling sessions.
Specifically, the report encompasses coronary heart disease and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using omega-3 fatty acids, three B vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12), phytosterols and psyllium dietary fiber; diabetes-attributed CHD and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using chromium picolinate; age-related eye disease, specifically age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using lutein and zeaxanthin; and osteoporosis and the potential net healthcare cost savings when using the combination of calcium and vitamin D or when using magnesium.