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More Pharmacists Using Supplements, Statewide Survey Suggests


August 28, 2019

Pharmacists are selectively using dietary supplements for their personal health, according to findings from a statewide survey published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 

“[A] a new important finding from our study was that these products were used at higher rates than previously reported,” researchers used, “which suggests use of dietary supplements is increasing and may have clinical implications for the identification of potential interactions and counseling on the appropriate use of these products.” 

The study was based on responses from a cross-sectional survey emailed to pharmacists in Arizona about their personal use and views of 10 vitamins and minerals and 21 herbal or other dietary supplements.

Among 639 pharmacists, 78% said they used any vitamin or mineral product, and 42% used any herbal or other dietary supplement. Some 59% considered dietary supplements mentioned in the survey to be safe, and 32% said they were effective. Women were more likely than men to use vitamins/minerals and herbals/others, while older pharmacists were more likely than younger pharmacists to use herbal/others, researchers reported.

Products pharmacists used most often were multivitamins (91%), vitamin C (71%), fish oil (65%), probiotics (53%), and fiber (53%), according to the study. Products pharmacists recommended to patients, family, and friends most often were fiber/psyllium (94%) and calcium (90%). 

“This is valuable information given that pharmacists are frontline healthcare professionals who may be asked to provide advice to patients about these products,” researchers wrote. “Future research should investigate some of the discrepancies between our findings and those of previous studies, as well as investigating dietary supplement use in broader populations.” 

Jolynn Tumolo 

Reference: 

Marupuru S, Axon DR, Slack MK. How do pharmacists use and recommend vitamins, minerals, herbals and other dietary supplements? [published online August 22, 2019]. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Aug 22;19(1):229. doi: 10.1186/s12906-019-2637-y

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