Currently, a wide variety of nutritionalsupplements are marketed toaddress the nutritional needs of manyindividuals. These products are oftenused by patients with certain medicalconditions who may lose their regularappetites or who require extra caloricintake, such as patients undergoingchemotherapy or radiation therapy,recovering from surgery, or who havedifficulty swallowing. In addition,these products are used by peopleattempting to lose weight, those withactive lifestyles, and those who areseeking to ensure that they receiveadequate nutrition to supplement normalor impaired nutritional status.Many patients with busy schedulesalso utilize these products as a practicaland healthier substitute to skippingmeals.
Pharmacists are in a pivotal positionfor assisting patients in making the properproduct selection, providing counselingon the proper use of these products,and identifying possible contraindicationsand drug interactions. They also areable to address the needs of thosepatients with certain medical conditionsor those currently taking specific medications.Before using these products,patients should be encouraged to discussthe appropriateness of using theseproducts with their primary health careprovider if there are any concerns.
Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writerbased in Haymarket, Va.