Do doctors & nurses use & recommend nutritional supplements?

Do doctors & nurses use & recommend nutritional supplements? 
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? 
At medical school, I remember the banter – “Don’t recommend nutritional supplements, everyone can get what they need from their food. Anyway, supplements just make expensive urine!” 
Surely times haven’t changed?

Oh yes they have!

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review article in 2002, in which an analysis of the use of nutritional supplements to prevent chronic disease led to the conclusion that it is now pertinent that all adults should take nutritional supplements. This was a big change around – the American Medical Association in the 1980s reported that suppelements were unnecessary. Unfortunately the reviewers did not look into the difference between formulations, and merely recommended the cheapest without knowledge of the diffference in bioavailability and potency of different makes. Nonetheless the report is very interesting. 
Currently it is estimated that 60% of Americans are taking nutritional supplements. The UK falls way behind with 35% taking supplements. 
Now there has been a survey of doctors and nurses in the US. Admittedly it was an online survey, so is unlikely to be truly representative of doctors and nurses. 
I suspect that the figures in the UK would be much, much lower. I also truly believe that the NHS prevents doctors and nurses from recommending supplements in the UK. This is for three reasons. Firstly we haven’t had the relevant education. Secondly we are not aware of the differences in quality of different supplements, only that many are poor quality and not worth the money paid for them. Thirdly that there is an unspoken feeling that if as a GP we recommend any item, the patient will then expect it to be available to them for free, or the price of a prescription.  I feel that this negates the effect on self of taking responsibility, both financial and at the core, for our own health. 
Take a look at the abstract – it makes interesting reading! 


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