As more and more Americans incorporate dietary supplements into their health routines as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness, pharmacists have become an influential information source for consumers, answering questions about dietary supplements and offering recommendations to their customers. Additionally, pharmacists themselves are incorporating dietary supplements into their lives as a means of increasing their overall health and wellness.
According to research from the “Life…Supplemented” Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study1, 93 percent of pharmacists recommend supplements to their customers, while 87 percent believe that supplements can play an important role in improving or maintaining the health of their customers.
“Pharmacists are able to help consumers choose the types of supplements that are right for their individual wellness plan,” said Douglas MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and a consultant to the “Life…supplemented” consumer wellness initiative. “A pharmacist’s training specifically qualifies him or her to take a comprehensive look at an individual’s current prescribed medications and determine if any potential drug-dietary supplement interactions or drug-induced nutrient depletions may need to be addressed. To maximize benefits and safety it is important to talk to a pharmacist or other qualified health care practitioner about all the things you are taking for your health.”
Eighty four percent of pharmacists said they believe it is a good idea for customers to take supplements, citing joint health (65 percent), bone health (61 percent) and flu/colds (51 percent) as the top three reasons they have recommended supplements to their customers. Pharmacists also noted in the survey that when they did speak to customers about supplements, two thirds reported that customers had initiated the conversation. With regard to which supplements pharmacists were most often asked about, the top three mentioned by respondents are omega-3/fish oil (mentioned by 73 percent), calcium (73 percent) and glucosamine/chondroitin (70 percent).
Pharmacists, like many other healthcare populations, also were willing to take their own counsel when it comes to supplements. Nearly nine in 10 pharmacists said they use dietary supplements (86 percent) citing “overall health and wellness” (44 percent) and “filling in nutrient gaps” (40 percent) as the top two reasons they personally take dietary supplements. Seventy six percent of those surveyed indicated that they take a multivitamin; other popular supplements taken by pharmacists include omega-3/fish oil (35 percent), calcium (35 percent), vitamin C (32 percent), B vitamins (25 percent), as well as vitamin D (23 percent) and fiber (19 percent).
A good way to determine how consumers can improve their health and wellness is to visit www.lifesupplemented.org and take “My Wellness Scorecard.” A free, fast, fun interactive wellness quiz helps identify realistic and personalized steps people can take towards better health.
Methodology: 1Results from the 2009 “Life…supplemented” HCP Impact Study went public in December 2009 and comprise three separate surveys—(300) nurse practitioners, (300) pharmacists and (300) registered dietitians. Margins of sampling error at a 95 percent confidence level are +/- 5.7 percentage points for each of the groups of healthcare professionals surveyed. A nominal honorarium was given to each healthcare professional completing the survey. Ipsos Public Affairs conducted the survey online. The first “Life…supplemented” HCP Impact Study of primary care physicians, OB/GYNs and nurses was conducted online in November 2007. The second study of cardiologists, orthopaedic specialists and dermatologists was conducted online in September 2008.
About the “Life…supplemented” HCP Impact Study: The study is part of the “Life… supplemented” consumer wellness campaign, which is dedicated to driving awareness about the mainstream use of dietary supplements as an integral part of a proactive personal wellness regimen that combines healthy diet, supplements and exercise. The study evaluates the personal attitudes and use of dietary supplements by healthcare professionals and whether their attitudes toward supplements affect their clinical behavior and recommendations to patients. The “Life…supplemented” campaign is managed by the CRN Foundation, an educational affiliate of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry. For more information: www.lifesupplemented.org.