FALLS CHURCH, Va.--A new report indicated daily multivitamin use by older adults could be an inexpensive
way to safeguard health. In particular, adults over 65 taking a multivitamin might be able to avoid hospitalization associated
with conditions such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections, in addition to fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction.
The Lewin Group (www.lewin.com) based A Study of the Cost Effects of Daily Multivitamins for Older Adults on research already in the public eye,
such as an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (287, 23:3127-9, 2002) (www.jama.com). The journal authors, Robert H. Fletcher, M.D., MSc, and Kathleen M. Fairfield, M.D., DrPH, wrote, "[S]uboptimal intake
of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the
general population, especially the elderly."
Fletcher and Fairfield also stated having low levels of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 is
a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancers. In addition, low levels of vitamin
D contribute to osteopenia and fractures, while low levels of vitamins A, C and E may increase the risk of several chronic
The Lewin Group found, in particular, that a multivitamin might best help cardiovascular health
and immune function. The study's findings also indicated a significant number of older adults do not consume the appropriate
amounts or types of food necessary to meet essential energy and nutrient needs.
The Lewin report, which was commissioned by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare (www.wyeth.com), stated, "From the perspective of a payer, the encouragement of the daily use of a multivitamin could be cost beneficial.
. Within a health insurance context, the five-year estimate of potential net savings resulting from daily multivitamin intake
for adults over 65 is approximately $1.6 billion [in Medicare savings]."