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Do Doctors Use Dietary Supplements?

Posted Jun 01 2011 4:39pm
Ever wonder if your doctors practice what they preach?  When it comes to taking supplements, certain specialists seem to be more likely to do what they tell their patients to do.  The following article breaks it down into three specialities: cardiologists, dermatologists, and orthopedic surgeons...

A new survey of health professionals indicates that the majority use dietary supplements at least occasionally, and that even more of them recommend supplements to their patients. As would be expected, the physicians most often recommended supplements that related to their medical specialty.

Numerous reports have shown that the majority of the American population use dietary supplements. Dietary supplement usage is also known to be common among health professionals. A recent study analyzed the dietary supplement usage patterns within a population of health care professionals.

The "Life...supplemented" Healthcare Professionals 2008 Impact Study (HCP Impact Study) surveyed usage of dietary supplements by physicians in three specialties: cardiology, dermatology, and orthopedics. Respondents were 900 physicians, including 300 each from three specialties – cardiology, dermatology, and orthopedics.

Seventy-five percent of dermatologist said they use dietary supplements at least occasionally, as did 73% of orthopedists and 57% of cardiologists. Multivitamins were the most commonly used supplements, but more than 25% in each specialty claimed to use omega-3 fatty acids and over 20% said they used some botanical supplements. Consistent dietary supplement use was reported by 59% of dermatologists, 50% of orthopedists, and 37% of cardiologists. Ninety-one percent of orthopedists, 72% of cardiologists, and 66% of dermatologists said they recommended dietary supplement use to their patients. Cardiologists typically recommended dietary supplements for heart health or lowering cholesterol. The Dermatologists recommended supplements for benefits for skin, hair and nails, and Orthopedists for bone and joint health.

According to this survey, dietary supplement use was relatively common in this sample of physicians, and their dietary supplement recommendations tended to relate to their individual specialties.
Source: Usana Health Sciences
Reference: Dickinson A, Shao A, Boyon N and Franco JC. Use of dietary supplements by cardiologists, dermatologists and orthopedists: report of a survey. Nutr J 2011 Mar 3;10:20.

No matter what your doctor says or does, it makes sense to choose a supplement that comes from only the most reliable sources.  Not all brands are the same, and not all physicians are trained in the differences.  Do your own homework, ask questions, choose manufacturers and suppliers that you trust based on your values and needs.

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