Our functional care practitioners, Nate Kelly RD and Dr. Micheal Sharp MD, are experts in dietary supplements and can help you discover the best supplement regimen to optimize your health.
Have you ever asked your primary care physician or specialist about a dietary supplement that you were interested in trying? If so, you were likely to have received a dismissive response along the lines of “don’t take any of that junk.” While frustrating and unhelpful, there are a number of factors that lead to this common response.
- The supplement industry is largely unregulated and the purity of their products overall is inferior to prescription drugs. While this is a fact and a valid point of criticism, it has been exaggerated repeatedly in marketing to doctors by the pharmaceutical industry in an attempt to demonize the entire supplement market. In truth, more recently a number of independent organizations have emerged that test the purity of dietary supplements. This has led to major improvements in the market and when their data is utilized by healthcare providers a high level of assurance of purity is possible. However, doctors are largely unaware of this data and thus do not utilize it.
- Dietary supplements often interact with prescription medications, and while databases of supplement/drug interactions are available, most doctors do not have the time or inclination to look up these potential interactions and review them with their patients.
- Dietary supplements by in large are not as effective as prescription medications at treating the symptoms of diseases. When your profession is based upon diagnosing disease and then treating the symptoms of those diseases, prescription medications have a major advantage over dietary supplements. However, prescription medications often come with significant side effects and toxicity that are less likely with dietary supplements. Dietary supplements also can have a role alongside pharmaceuticals in enhancing their ability to manage disease symptoms as well as a role in disease prevention and increasing overall wellbeing.
- Many dietary supplements are entirely or partially composed of vitamins and minerals. The function of these substances in the body is generally poorly understood by modern physicians as this field of study, biochemistry, is only covered in cursory strokes during the very early stages of medical school.
- Finally, research on natural medicines and dietary supplements lags behind the multibillion dollar corporate-financed pharmaceutical research industry and lacks the army of promotional soldiers (known as drug reps) to promote their use. Doctors aspire to practice evidence-based medicine but when the evidence base is highly biased the wisdom of this aspiration is called into question.
In summary, most doctors are dismissive of dietary supplements because they are poorly educated on the topic, following a disease management model, exposed to negative propaganda and a biased evidence base, and unwilling or unable to take the necessary time to integrate them into their practice.
If you want to discover if dietary supplements can improve your health, your traditional primary care doctor is probably the wrong person to ask. As Plum Spring Clinic’s functional care providers, Nate and Dr. Sharp are familiar with the supplement market and subscribe to and follow third party data about the quality of supplement brands. They have a strong background in biochemistry and consistently review new research on which supplements are effective for what conditions. Both have extensive clinical experience using supplements in practice, and make use of data regarding potential interactions with other supplements and prescription medications. Either is an excellent choice to help you make smart choices in choosing nutritional supplements for your health.