How to recommend the right supplements to patients

August 12, 2015
What doctors of optometry should look for in a supplement.

Excerpted from page 26 of the July/August 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

Some supplements have come under fire lately for not being all they claim to be.

In a February New York Times story, it was reported that certain retailers may be selling herbal supplements that don't contain much more than powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases, substances that could negatively affect people with allergies.

"Nutritional supplements, in general, are orders of magnitude safer than prescription medicines, based upon numerous studies and U.S. Poison Control Center data. But it never hurts to be extra vigilant with any consumable, be it food or OTC nutritional supplements," says Stuart Richer, O.D., Ph.D., co-author of the AOA nutrition supplement, Eye Health and Nutrition After AREDS2, sponsored by Kemin.

What doctors should look for

To make sure any supplement you recommend is top quality, look for third-party independent verification, which is standard practice for manufacturers of high-quality supplements.

"This shows that the company has voluntarily submitted to an independent review by an independent laboratory to analyze the content's amounts and purity of ingredients," explains A. Paul Chous, O.D., optometric representative to the National Diabetes Education Program, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

For example:

  • C L (ConsumerLab).
  • GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes).
  • NSF International (NSF).
  • USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention).

Learn more about how to talk to your patients about nutrition.

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