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A Pharmacist's Guide to OTC Therapy: Assisting Patients in Selecting Multivitamins

Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh
Published Online: Tuesday, August 1, 2006   [ Request Print ]

It is estimated that approximately 40% to 50% of individuals in the United States use a multivitamin, dietary, or mineral supplement daily.1 In our fast-paced society, many individuals may feel that they are not meeting the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals through their diets alone, so they choose to incorporate the use of a multivitamin supplement into their daily routine.

The extensive assortment of multivitamin supplements currently on the market can probably seem both overwhelming and challenging to consumers attempting to select the appropriate supplement. Pharmacists can be a fundamental source of information for consumers in the proper selection of these supplements.

Multivitamin supplements currently on the market are formulated to target and meet the nutritional needs of various patient populations such as the pediatric population or individuals over the age of 50, and some multivitamins are formulated to meet the specific needs of either the male or female population (Table). For example, multivitamin supplements such as One-A-Day Men's Health Formula (Bayer HealthCare LLC) are marketed as a complete multivitamin that also contains a unique combination of lycopene, selenium, zinc, and vitamin E, which some studies demonstrate may promote prostate health. They also contain vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid for promoting a healthy level of homocysteine levels for cardiovascular health, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, to promote the maintenance of normal blood pressure. This formulation also contains no iron, since research proposes that a surplus of iron may contribute to an increase in cardiovascular disease in men.2

Prior to recommending any vitamin supplements to a patient, pharmacists should assess the patient's medical history and medication profile to determine if there are any existing contraindications or potential for drug/ micronutrient interactions. Pharmacists should also remind patients to take only the recommended dosage of these supplements. In addition, pharmacists should stress to patients the importance of incorporating a balanced nutrition plan into their daily routine and refer patients to egistered dietitians when necessary.

Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Haymarket, Va.

For a list of references, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: References Department, Attn. A. Rybovic, Pharmacy Times, Ascend Media Healthcare, 103 College Road East, Princeton, NJ 08540; or send an e-mail request to: arybovic@ascendmedia.com


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