How does conventional medicine perceive nutritional supplements?

William Wien
William Wien on behalf of MDLIVE
Family Medicine
The answer to this is mixed. While many types of mega-vitamin therapy are viewed as useless to potentially harmful, many vitamins are used to both ensure optimal health and treat or prevent disease. Examples include vitamin D to promote bone health, vitamins C and E as part of retinal health regimen, and vitamin B6 to both treat and prevent nerve damage.
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
I believe there is a bias in conventional medicine against nutritional supplements. Part of the reason for this is the fact that supplements are not regulated by the FDA so it is often hard to know the quality and quantity of each supplement. In addition, conventional physicians like to see extensive scientific evidence when it comes to supplements that their patients use and often that evidence is not available. 

However, there are some supplements that are making their way to conventional medicine. For example fish oil is recommended by the American Heart Association for heart health. SamE was studied by researchers at Harvard and found to be helpful in depression. Coenzyme Q10 is recommended by many mainstream physicians to help protect the muscles of patients taking statin drugs.

Despite the bias, there are supplements that will become part of conventional medicine as they continue to be studied.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.