Currently, a wide variety of nutritional supplements are marketed to address the nutritional needs of many individuals. These products are often used by patients with certain medical conditions who may lose their regular appetites or who require extra caloric intake, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, recovering from surgery, or who have difficulty swallowing. In addition, these products are used by people attempting to lose weight, those with active lifestyles, and those who are seeking to ensure that they receive adequate nutrition to supplement normal or impaired nutritional status. Many patients with busy schedules also utilize these products as a practical and healthier substitute to skipping meals.
Pharmacists are in a pivotal position for assisting patients in making the proper product selection, providing counseling on the proper use of these products, and identifying possible contraindications and drug interactions. They also are able to address the needs of those patients with certain medical conditions or those currently taking specific medications. Before using these products, patients should be encouraged to discuss the appropriateness of using these products with their primary health care provider if there are any concerns.
Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Haymarket, Va.