As I mentioned in a previous blog post, My Doctor Doesn’t Recommend Plexus Slim (or supplements in general) , statistics show that the average medical doctor received only 23.9 hours of education in nutrition during their entire medical school career.1 Typically that education centered around fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, and identifying overt signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiency or toxicity because National Boards love to ask questions about things you will virtually never see like beriberi (thiamine deficiency) or pellagra (niacin deficiency). So, in all actuality, most physicians never learn much at all about individual nutritional substances outside of common vitamins and minerals unless they have taken a personal interest in it and searched out more information on their own time.
So when you show up to your doctor’s appointment wanting them to approve you taking a supplement, chances are very high that they will be completely unfamiliar with the ingredients and their knee-jerk reaction will be to tell you not to take it.
So, how do you get your doctor’s consent to take a supplement when they don’t know anything about it?
The single most important thing you can do to aid your doctor in their decision is to provide them with appropriate information. Your doctor doesn’t have the time or the resources to look up 15 separate ingredients while you are at your appointment, so you need to do this for them. If you present to the doctors office prepared with the following, you have dramatically increased your odds of getting appropriate medical advice as to whether that supplement is worth you trying.
- Print off the SUPPLEMENT FACTS box/sheet on the product you wish to take. This is the ‘snapshot’ of the label that lists all ingredients, in order of quantity, and lists product dosing, and any warnings or contraindications. You can get print these off from any supplement company’s website as they are required to make these available to you.
- If your prospective supplement has a study published on their website, print off a copy of that too. Remember though, that many supplement companies do not publish studies on their supplements so they do not run into hot water with the FDA by making a product claim.
- Look up the main ingredients in the product and print off an information sheet about each one. Use reputable websites that your doctor would be inclined to positively receive information from such as MedlinePlus, WebMD Supplement Center, or the Physicians Desk Reference – Herbal Medicines. Please don’t use Wikipedia or other questionable sources! If at all possible, keep the print out on each ingredient to a single page – that way your doctor can quickly skim the information.
- Use Pubmed to print off Abstracts (not the full studies) of any of the ingredients in relation to health conditions you may have. Here is an example I searched for – chlorogenic acid, weight loss and this study pops up. ***Be careful here, because few nutritional journals are indexed at Pubmed, and the nutritional studies posted in medical journals are often AGAINST supplementation, or use rat or other lab animal models and are not based on human trials.
- Lastly, have these all together in a file or envelope that you can present to our doctor and NEVER ask them “I want your approval to take ________”. This type of question opens them up to legal liability . It is far better to word your question the following way, “Is there anything in this supplement that would be contraindicated with my medications or health history?” That way you are not asking for their personal opinion, nor their approval, but you are doing your due diligence that the supplement should be safe for you. Remember, the doctor works for you, and you hire them for their expertise. If they shoot down all supplementation, then they are not working in your best interest. For this reason, I recommend you also print out my blog post My Doctor Doesn’t Recommend Plexus Slim (or Supplements in General) because it covers the exact statistics of risk for dietary supplements and counters any arguments an uninformed doctor may give you.
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1. Adams, KM, Lindell, KC, et al. Status of nutritional education in medical schools. 1,2,3,4. Am J Clin Nutrition, April 2006, vol 83. No 4, 941S-944S.