Supplements can fill health gaps, say dietitians

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Percent, Nutrition

More than 80 percent of registered dietitians consider most Americans have gaps in their diets that can be filled with vitamins and other dietary supplements, according to new research from the Life...supplemented 2009 Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study.

Pledging a personal commitment to supplementation, 76 percent of those surveyed said that supplements can address their own diet gaps. In fact, 96 percent confirmed that they take supplements and 87 percent acknowledged recommending them to their clients.

The most popular supplement among dietitians is a multivitamin consumed by 84 percent of those surveyed.

Specialty supplements are also popular. 64 percent take at least one specialty supplement such as omega-3 fish oils, as confirmed by 47 percent of respondents.

Herbal or botanical supplements were taken by 46 percent of those surveyed and 22 percent said that they take a fiber supplement.

Health and wellness

Nearly 60 percent of registered dietitians take supplements for improved bone health while 58 percent take supplements for overall health and wellness.

72 percent of dietitians who recommend supplements to their clients do so to improve bone health and nearly 70 percent to fill nutrition gaps.

Leslie Bonci, director of sports medicine nutrition for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said: "Registered dietitians know people's eating habits, and we know that people don't always eat correctly. A healthy diet works in concert with exercise and responsible use of supplements for a wellness lifestyle. We're seeing RDs (registered dieticians) champion these three components to overall wellness."

Bonci acted as advisor to the "Life...supplemented"​ campaign which seeks to promote awareness of vitamins and other dietary supplements and their responsible use.

Education gap

The research highlights the need for education about supplement, say the researchers. Less than one-quarter (23 percent) of dietitians considered that at their clients have a good understanding of the recommended daily intake of dietary supplements. Bonci said:

“Registered dietitians can help fill the education gap for their clients.”

The research included three separate surveys of 300 nurse practitioners, 300 pharmacists and 300 registered dietitians.

74 percent of surveyed registered dieticians said they are members of the American Dietetic Association.

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