I can’t tell you how many patients have told me that when they tried talking to their doctors about using vitamin and mineral supplements, they were met with condescension, laughter or belittlement.
So how do you get your doctor to work with you and help you incorporate vitamin and mineral supplements into your daily health regimen?
Here are some of the most common stumbling blocks patients encounter when discussing supplements with their physicians—and suggestions for countering them.
Common Objections to Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Objection No. 1: "Supplements are unproven without scientific evidence."
This is simply not true. Every year, thousands of studies are published on the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in the prevention and treatment of disease.
There are textbooks and periodicals on this subject, and thousands of well-referenced books. Our own government’s National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements maintains a huge database of bibliographic citations and abstracts from published international scientific literature on supplements. And if you search the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website, you’ll find tens of thousands of abstracts on vitamin and mineral supplements.
Objection No. 2: "Using supplements is dangerous."
Vitamin and mineral supplements are exceptionally safe—in fact, they’re infinitely safer than prescription drugs. In a typical year, more than 100,000 Americans die of adverse effects from medications used exactly as prescribed.
Guess how many die from “dangerous” supplements? Zero.
Objection No. 3: "If supplements work so well, why aren’t all doctors using them?"
Just because conventional physicians aren’t widely using vitamin and mineral supplements doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Doctors are trained in the use of pharmaceuticals, not nutrients, so many of them are unaware of the benefits of supplements. Others are simply biased against them.
Then there’s the profit factor.
Vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and anything else found in nature cannot be patented. If they could be patented, they’d have been claimed by the pharmaceutical industry and marketed as expensive drugs long, long ago. Because natural therapies have no patent protection, there is no financial incentive for them to be picked up by drug companies—so they never make it into conventional medicine.
Objection No. 4: "You get all the nutrients you need from a good diet."
As I’ve noted, the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveals that most Americans are deficient in one or more essential nutrients. Daily multivitamin and vitamin and mineral supplements engender health by helping to protect against nutritional deficiencies. Targeted supplements are used in therapeutic doses to treat specific health conditions.
Remember: Although it may be reassuring to have your physician’s approval, you don’t need his or her permission for using vitamin and mineral supplements. Your health is your responsibility, and you control what goes into your body.
More Dr. Whitaker Advice on Nutritional Support