CRN urges US Dietary Advisory Committee to include supplements in federal dietary guidelines

Did you know that the influential US Dietary Advisory Committee (DGAC) currently sees no role for supplements in human nutrition? Rather they argue that Americans can get all their nutritional needs from foods and beverages. As we have expressed our opinion several times (ref 1), their view is factually incorrect, whether for Americans, or other nationalities.

Therefore, we were pleased to recently read that the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) agrees with us. The CRN is a leading trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers globally.

In their statement (ref2), the CRN urged the DGAC to adopt a new posture on dietary supplements in the next round of federal dietary guidelines. Specifically, CRN want multivitamins and supplements to be viewed as a low-cost, no-calorie way to fill key nutrient gaps in most American diets. To support this, they argue that:

  • The 2010 DGAC together with the National Health and Examination Survey flagged deficiencies in potassium, fibre, calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and magnesium in most Americans, and iron, folate, and Vitamin B12 for specific groups.
  • A 2001 Journal of Nutrition article shows how supplementing food with fortification and dietary supplements can significantly reduce the % of the population which falls below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for nutrients. Examples range from 51% to 4% for thiamine, 88% to 8% for folate and 93% to 60% for Vitamin E.
  • Claims by the Annals of Internal Medicine editorial (ref 3) that supplementation with a multivitamin increases all-cause mortality, cancer incidence or mortality, are unfounded. To see why we wholeheartedly agree with this please see our blog. (ref4)

Moreover CRN point out the large health care cost savings from supplementation. For example: Citing Frost & Sullivan data, CRN wrote:

  “The annual direct health care cost of treating fractures in US women over the age of 55 with osteoporosis was over $14 billion in 2012…..If calcium and Vitamin D supplements were used at preventative daily intake levels by all US women with osteoporosis over the age of 55, the net health care cost savings would average $1.52 billion per year, with cumultive net savings of $12 billion from 2013-2020.”

These statistics confirm what we discovered by reviewing a robust study (ref5) of more than 1 million adult inpatients in the US over an 11 year period. This found that oral nutritional supplementation:

  • Reduced hospitalisation length by 21% (or 2.3 days)
  • Reduced patient hospitalisation cost (based on inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars) by 21.6% (or $4,734)
  • Reduced the probability of a 30 day readmission in certain patients 

The study experts commented: "Patients identified as having nutritional deficiencies often face a longer and more difficult recovery process, resulting in higher health care costs and an increase in complication issues... 

... Research shows that oral nutritional supplementation can lead to highly positive economic benefits and improved patient outcomes. Because oral nutritional supplements are formulated to provide advanced nutrition for patients and are relatively inexpensive, the sizeable savings they generate make supplementation a cost effective therapy." 

Let’s hope that the common sense nutritional views of the CRN win over a system focused on ‘Sick Care’, not 'Health Care', which largely ignores or denigtates simple, cost effective nutritional interventions like supplementation. 


  2. CRN Statement
  3. The Annals of Internal Medicine editorial
  4. Our rationale against the Annals of Internal Medicine editorial
  5. Abbot inpatient study

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