Your Doctor Says No to Supplements, Now What?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: General Health, Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Over the years I’ve recommend certain nutritional supplements for heart health. Then, patients ask their other doctors about the supplements and often, receive negative or indifferent answers such as “they may cause harm,” or “there’s no science.”

Such responses are cop outs, to put it mildly. There’s an immense body of powerful research supporting the use and safety of supplements, and any smart doctor should certainly be up on the subject.

What should you do if your doctor disapproves of supplements?

  • First off, don’t be intimidated by the messenger. Tell your doctor if you’ve had positive experience with certain supplements—convey your passion—and stick the evidence under his or her nose.
  • Keep in mind that medical doctors get little, if any, nutritional training in medical school and rarely attempt to fill their knowledge gap once in practice. Years ago when I was a hospital medical education director, I had a hard time trying to encourage my physician colleagues to accept nutritional medicine. Most were simply annoyed by my efforts. They demanded to see studies, which I didn’t mind providing, but I had to spoon-feed them to make any progress.
  • Remember a revealing statistic. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports 11 deaths, supposedly, from supplement use during the last 27 years. I say “supposedly” because the circumstances linking the supplements to actual deaths are questionable. This is a tremendous safety record.
  • * Also remember how supplements compare to prescription drugs. A 2011 study reveals that each year in this country, adverse effects cause about 4.5 million visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals. In fact, prescription drugs are our fourth leading cause of death, killing more than 27,000 people in 2007—more than heroin and cocaine combined.

Now it’s your turn: Have you had a doctor that said no to nutritional supplements?

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