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Dietitians Use Supplements Too

April 9, 2012 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Have you ever wondered which supplements dietitians and nutritionists use themselves? The March 2012 issue of Nutrition Journal shares some insight into that very topic. In the survey, a total of 300 registered dietitians were queried about precisely which herbs, minerals, nutraceuticals and vitamins they use regularly and why. The macro breakdown of the findings reveals that 74% of those interviewed classified themselves as “regular users of dietary supplements”. An additional 22% “used dietary supplements occasionally or seasonally”. Also of note is that an impressive 97% of the dietitians recommended supplements to their clients.

A cursory review of the top ten supplements used by the dietitians in the survey is both reassuring and troubling. First, the good news. Some of the most commonly used supplements included multivitamins (84%), omega-3 fatty acids/fish oil (47%) and Vitamin D (43%). All three are included in my own list of the top supplements to consider for general health promotion. On the other hand, some of the choices made by the dietitians can easily be attained via healthful dietary choices and, typically, don’t need to be taken as supplements. Examples of the latter include fiber (22%), flax seed oil (13%) and green tea (18%). Drinking a glass or two of organic green tea and adding ground flax seeds to your daily diet are much better options.

The biggest problem I have with this current report are the nutrients that aren’t mentioned. When asked why they take supplements, the dietitians surveyed cited reasons such as, “bone health”, “fill in nutrition gaps” and “overall health/wellness benefits”. These are all goals that can be supported by the use of dietary supplements. But, some of the most important candidates that can assist one in attaining these goals are surprisingly left unmentioned. In recent years, magnesium has been identified as widely deficient in the modern diet. The same is true of Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients not only play a vital role in supporting bone and cardiovascular health, but also interfere with key mechanisms involved with accelerated aging and degenerative disease such as chronic inflammation, cognitive disorders, depression and poor blood sugar control. The fact that neither of these supplements is singled out anywhere in the full text of the study is somewhat surprising.

The term “fill in nutrition gaps” is frequently used to describe diets that are lacking in fruits and vegetables. Although dietitians are more knowledgeable about nutrition than most lay people, that doesn’t necessarily mean they always eat as healthfully as they should. Taking concentrated fruit and vegetable supplements has been shown to provide some of the health benefits attributable to diets rich in low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Of late, scientific trials report that supplements containing concentrated fruit and vegetable extracts increase antioxidant capacity and nutrient levels in the body. This encapsulated, powdered form of fruits or vegetables also lowers homocysteine, inflammatory markers and reduces the incidence and severity of respiratory infections. If this doesn’t fit into the “overall health/wellness benefits” category, I don’t know what does!

All of this is to say that even health professionals need to periodically reassess what they’re recommending and taking. And, as health care consumers, we should likewise make sure that what we’re taking is in line with the most reliable and up-to-date information. I personally reevaluate my own supplement routine and that of my clients, family and friends at least twice a year. This allows me to make adjustments and improvements that are supported by the latest scientific research, which is something I hope you will do too.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Dietitians Use and Recommend Dietary Supplements: Report of a Survey (link)

Study 2 – Suboptimal Magnesium Status in the United States: Are the Health (link)

Study 3 – Hypomagnesemia and Inflammation: Clinical and Basic Aspects (link)

Study 4 – Uses of Proton Pump Inhibitors and Hypomagnesemia(link)

Study 5 – Vitamin K, Osteoporosis and Degenerative Diseases of Ageing (link)

Study 6 – Vitamins D and K as Pleiotropic Nutrients: Clinical Importance to (link)

Study 7 – Vitamin K, An Emerging Nutrient in Brain Function (link)

Study 8 – Reduction of Common Cold Symptoms by Encapsulated Juice (link)

Study 9 – Systemic Inflammatory Load in Humans is Suppressed by Consumption (link)

Study 10 – Four Week Supplementation with Mixed Fruit and Vegetable Juice (link)

Higher Serum Magnesium May Lower Cardiovascular Mortality

Source: Am Heart J. 2010 Sep;160(3):464-70. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements

6 Comments & Updates to “Dietitians Use Supplements Too”

  1. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    My VA doc, who wasn’t altmed oriented, seemed impressed with CoQ10.

  2. JP Says:

    Hi Iggy.

    I use CoQ10 and often recommend it. It’s not on my top five list. But, it is included in my second tier supplements.


    Be well!


  3. Ted Hutchinson Says:

    I think we should be aware the American Dietetic Association, now Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is an organization in collusion with the junk food and big pharmaceutical industries.

    I suspect if they had their way sites such as this would be banned see Is the American Dietetic Association Attempting to Limit Market Competition in Nutrition Counseling?

  4. rob Says:

    Kudos for mentioning Mag. Its slowly coming to light but not enough is mentioned about it, especially when all you hear is about calcium

  5. JP Says:

    Hi Ted,

    I thought you might find this short video presentation interesting:


    I think it’s a fairly accurate snap shot of what’s going on right now in the dietary supplement arena re: pharmaceutical influence.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Thank you, Rob.

    I agree. In fact, calcium factored in quite prominently in the report. And, while calcium is important, there’s a lot more to the bone health story than just calcium.

    Be well!


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