Dietary supplements used, recommended by physicians with various specialties

WASHINGTON — A study published last week in Nutrition Journal found that dietary supplement usage and patient recommendations were common for physicians across several medical specialties, including dermatology, cardiology and orthopedics.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2008 "Life…supplemented Healthcare Professionals Impact Study" found that 75% of dermatologists personally use dietary supplements, and 66% recommend supplements to their patients; 57% of cardiologists personally use dietary supplements, and 72% recommend supplements to their patients; and 73% of orthopedic specialists personally use dietary supplements, and 91% 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,” study authors stated. “Some surveys of physicians suggest that they are as likely as members of the general public to use dietary supplements.”

The most commonly reported product taken by these specialists was the multivitamin, with 44% of all cardiologists, 61% of all dermatologists and 57% of all orthopedists indicating they had taken a multivitamin within the past year. Additionally, more than 25% of physicians in each specialty said they had used omega-3/fish oil supplements, and more than 20% 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% of cardiologists, 42% of dermatologists and 43% 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% of cardiologists, joint health by 29% of orthopedists, and skin, hair and nails by 16% of dermatologists.

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