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Elderly People and Their Views on Supplements and Medical Care

June 30, 2017

Elderly people who use herbal supplements are less satisfied with "conventional" medical care than non-users and often do not tell their physicians they are combining supplements with prescription drugs, according to a survey conducted by researchers at Northern Illinois University.

Of 69 older people surveyed, 35 said they used supplements, including garlic, glucosamine, gingko biloba and fish oil. Nearly one-fourth of herbal supplement users reported their doctor did not know they were taking supplements.

Of 26 who combined supplements with prescription drugs, six (23 percent) said they were doing so without medical supervision. Supplement users were significantly less likely to be satisfied with medical care, supporting studies that have found alternative medicine users "are dissatisfied with conventional medicine due to ineffectiveness of treatments," the researchers write.

"Given that there is increased risk of drug-supplement interaction among elderly persons, it is important that health-care professionals be aware that older patients may be supplementing their prescribed medications with herbal preparations."

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics. With nearly 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Based in Chicago, ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. Visit ADA at eatright.

Highlights of the 2005 July Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Kelly Liebbe
American Dietetic Association
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