Revealed: why specialist physicians take and recommend supplements

Newly-released results from the 2008 "Life…supplemented" Healthcare Professionals Impact Study show for the first time which supplements specialist physicians are taking and recommending to their patients.

According to the survey, which is backed by the Washington DC-based Council for Responsible Nutrition, most orthopaedic specialists, cardiologists and dermatologists take and recommend dietary supplements to their patients both for overall wellness and reasons associated with their particular specialties.

Orthopaedic specialists — Nearly three-quarters (73%) of orthopaedic specialists use dietary supplements, the research found. The top reasons for this include: overall health and wellness benefits (43%), joint health (29%), heart health (26%), bone health (25%) and flu/colds (22%).

Nearly all orthopaedic specialists who take supplements recommend them to their patients (94%). Even 82% of orthopaedic specialists who do not take supplements still recommend them to their patients. In total, 91% of orthopaedic specialists recommend supplements to their patients. The top reasons include: bone health (75%), joint health (73%), musculoskeletal pain (53%) and overall health and wellness benefits (25%).

Cardiologists — More than half (57%) of cardiologists use dietary supplements. The top reasons they do so include: overall health and wellness benefits (32%), heart health (29%), lower cholesterol (20%) and energy (17%).

Most cardiologists who take supplements recommend them to their patients (86%), while 54% of cardiologists who do not take supplements do so. Among the 72% of total cardiologists recommending supplements, the top reasons for doing so include: lower cholesterol (58%), heart health (55%), maintain healthy cholesterol (36%), and overall health and wellness benefits (30%).

Dermatologists — Three-quarters of dermatologists use dietary supplements. The top reasons for this include: overall health and wellness benefits (42%); bone health (24%); skin, hair and nails (16%); heart health (15%) and anti-ageing (14%).

Four in five dermatologists who take supplements recommend them to their patients, but only 28% of dermatologists who do not take supplements do the same. Overall, 66% of dermatologists recommend supplements, the top reasons being: skin, hair and nails (81%); overall health and wellness benefits (30%); bone health (25%); anti-ageing (20%); immune health and heart health (12% each).

The latest findings build on the results of the 2007 HCP Impact Study, which showed 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses personally use dietary supplements. Most physicians (79%) and nurses (82%) also recommend dietary supplements to their patients, it found.

"We learned from the 2007 HCP Impact Study that physicians and nurses are taking supplements as part of a proactive wellness regimen that also includes healthy diet and regular exercise," said Judy Blatman, senior vice president of communications at the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

"With the second year of this study, we were able to dive into specific specialties and find similar trends, further demonstrating the important role for doctors in incorporating dietary supplements as an integral part of wellness."

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