For physicians within several medical specialties, including dermatology, cardiology and orthopedics, personal usage of and patient recommendations for dietary supplements are quite common¹, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal, a peer-reviewed, on-line journal that focuses on the field of human nutrition.
The 2008 “Life…supplemented” Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study found that 75 percent of dermatologists personally use dietary supplements and 66 percent recommend supplements to their patients; 57 percent of cardiologists personally use dietary supplements and 72 percent recommend supplements to their patients; and 73 percent of orthopedic specialists personally use dietary supplements and 91 percent recommend supplements to their patients.
“Health professionals including physicians have an interest in healthy lifestyles and in habits that may contribute to wellness, which may include the use of dietary supplements. Some surveys of physicians suggest that they are as likely as members of the general public to use dietary supplements,” the study authors state.
The most commonly reported product taken by these specialists was the multivitamin—with 44 percent of all cardiologists, 61 percent of all dermatologists, and 57 percent of all orthopedists indicating they had taken a multivitamin within the past year. Additionally, over 25 percent of physicians in each specialty said they had used omega-3/fish oil supplements, and over 20 percent of each of the three specialty groups said they had taken a botanical supplement in the past year, with green tea being the botanical most frequently mentioned.
Overall health and wellness was the top reason these physicians reported for taking supplements, including 32 percent of cardiologists, 42 percent of dermatologists and 43 percent of orthopedists. Heart health was mentioned by more than a quarter of cardiologists and orthopedists, while bone health was mentioned by about a quarter of orthopedists and dermatologists. Lowering cholesterol was cited by 20 percent of cardiologists, joint health by 29 percent of orthopedists, and skin, hair and nails by 16 percent of dermatologists.
The survey found that most of the physicians who reported supplement use were long-term users. About half of the supplement users in each specialty said they had taken supplements for four to 10 years, and about a third said they had taken supplements for more than 10 years.
When it comes to why these specialists recommend supplements to patients, top reasons were often related to the physicians' specialty: among cardiologists, lowering cholesterol, maintaining healthy cholesterol, and general heart health; among dermatologists, skin, hair, and nails; and among orthopedists, bone health, joint health, and musculoskeletal pain.
Findings from this survey add to the existing body of research on healthcare professionals’ use of/recommendations for dietary supplements. In 2009, Nutrition Journal published findings from a separate 2007 study from “Life…supplemented” that found that physicians and nurses are as likely as members of the general public to use dietary supplements, and most physicians and nurses recommend supplements to their patients.
The published article reporting on the study findings was co-authored by Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., consultant to and past president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition; Andrew Shao, Ph.D., former senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition; Nicolas Boyon, senior vice president, Ipsos Public Affairs, and Julio Franco, senior research manager, Ipsos Public Affairs.
1 Dickinson A, Shao A, Boyon N, Franco J. Use of dietary supplements by cardiologists, dermatologists and orthopedists: report of a survey. Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:20 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-20.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973 and based in Washington, D.C., is the leading trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. CRN companies produce a large portion of the dietary supplements marketed in the United States and globally. Our member companies manufacture popular national brands as well as the store brands marketed by major supermarkets, drug store and discount chains. These products also include those marketed through natural food stores and mainstream direct selling companies. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our 75+ manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as CRN’s Code of Ethics. Learn more about us at www.crnusa.org.