Saturday, January 2, 2010

Consulting about dietary supplements

Patients seem to always have questions regarding dietary and nutritional supplements. For some reason, this seems to be especially true if you live in an affluent area where people are constantly on the Internet researching different products. They are seeking health information from various sources and they want to learn how they can improve their health and reduce their risk for serious diseases. For instance,  we've recently seen many reports talking about the health benefits of fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids. We've also seen many health-related websites pop up such as and others.

Patients may frequently ask questions about dietary supplements. You may encounter questions like:
  • Should I be eating more fish to avoid heart attacks? 
  • What if I'm allergic to fish?
  • Should I take omega-3 fatty acid supplements?
  • How much should I take?
  • Which type of omega-3 supplement should I buy?
  • What do you think about websites like
On this topic - let me pause and note that some physicians have set up an online business where they are selling dietary supplements on the Internet. It's very easy to set up a business on the Internet, but I won't comment whether physicians should be selling products directly to their patients because now we're getting into some ethical issues (we're not talking about the Stark Law, but I think you get the idea).

When it comes to fish oil and omega-3, we have fairly robust clinical data regarding the cardiovascular effects of omega-3 fatty acids. We may not know how it impacts inflammatory markers like hs-CRP, but we know how omega-3 impacts triglycerides, HDL-C, and LDL-C. Patients can learn about omega-3 fatty acids by visiting sites like

Are you interested in teaching patients about the use of dietary supplements? One way you can do this is to publish some online content that focuses on patient education and consumer health. You can write about the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids on blogs and informative consumer health websites if you have strong writing skills.

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