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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Dietitians use and recommend dietary supplements: report of a survey

Annette Dickinson1*, Leslie Bonci2, Nicolas Boyon3 and Julio C Franco3

Author Affiliations

1 Dickinson Consulting, LLC, 3432 Denmark Avenue, #350, St. Paul, MN 55123, USA

2 Sports Nutrition, UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 3200 S. Water Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203, USA

3 Ipsos Public Affairs, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:14  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-14

Published: 14 March 2012

Abstract

Background

Dietary supplement use is common in the United States, with more than half of the population using such products. Nutrition authorities consistently advocate a "food first" approach to achieving nutritional adequacy but some, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), also recognize that dietary supplements have a role to play in improving nutrient intake to support health and wellness. Surveys show that many health professionals use dietary supplements themselves and also recommend dietary supplements to their patients or clients.

Methods

As one component of a series of surveys of healthcare professionals (the "Life...supplemented" HCP Impact Studies), 300 registered dietitians were surveyed in 2009 regarding their personal use of dietary supplements and whether they recommend dietary supplements to their clients. Respondents were registered dietitians whose business involved seeing clients in a private practice or at a clinic.

Results

Seventy-four percent of the dietitians surveyed said they were regular users of dietary supplements, while 22% said they used dietary supplements occasionally or seasonally. The primary reasons for using dietary supplements were for bone health (58%), overall health and wellness (53%), and to fill nutrient gaps (42%). When asked if they "ever recommend dietary supplements to clients," 97% of the respondents said they did. The primary reasons were for bone health (70%), to fill nutrient gaps (67%), and overall health and wellness (49%). Eighty-seven percent of the dietitians agreed with the statement, "There are gaps in clients' diets that could effectively be addressed with dietary supplements." The dietitians surveyed said they followed healthy habits including eating a balanced diet (96%), managing stress (92%), visiting their own healthcare professional regularly (86%), exercising regularly (83%), maintaining a healthy weight (80%), and getting a good night's sleep (72%). Nearly all respondents (95%) expressed an interest in continuing education about dietary supplements on a variety of topics.

Conclusions

Many dietitians, like other health professionals, use dietary supplements regularly as part of their own approach to a healthy diet and lifestyle. They also recommend dietary supplements to their clients or patients, to promote health.

Keywords:
Dietary supplements; Supplement surveys; Dietitians' health habits