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May 2020

Survey Results Suggest High Interest, Low Understanding for Many Natural Medicines

A recent consumer survey on supplement use uncovered several ingredients that consumers are interested in but don't know much about. Be prepared to answer questions about these ingredients to help your patients make informed decisions about their use.

According to the survey results, consumers are very interested in heart health supplements, but they aren’t aware of the potential heart health benefits of coenzyme Q10 or vitamin K. Coenzyme Q10 might improve exercise capacity and reduce the risk of death or hospitalization in heart failure patients who aren’t benefiting from conventional drugs alone. It might also lower the risk of heart-related events, including another heart attack, in patients with a history of heart attack. If patients want to give it a try, 100 mg daily divided into two or three doses or 2 mg/kg daily has been used in most studies. Tell patients to look for USP verified products such as Coenzyme Q10 50 mg by Equaline. When it comes to vitamin K, there’s some evidence that taking a multivitamin containing vitamin K1 might prevent or reduce the advancement of coronary calcification, a risk factor for heart disease. But data isn’t conclusive. If patients want to increase vitamin K intake, suggest looking for a USP verified multivitamin containing vitamin K1, such as Multi For Her by Nature Made. You can also suggest increasing dietary intake by eating more leafy greens.

Consumers also seem to be interested in choline, but they don't know what benefits it offers. Tell them that early evidence shows that choline plays a role in energy production. This suggests it might improve mental function or athletic performance. But more research is still needed to confirm. If patients want to increase choline intake, tell them to focus on dietary sources rather than supplements. Eggs contain the highest amount of choline; meat, fish, nuts and beans are also great sources.

The last ingredient highlighted in the survey is biotin. While biotin is very commonly taken for beauty purposes, including brittle nails and hair loss, there isn’t any strong evidence to support these uses. Tell patients there aren’t any major safety concerns if they take biotin in doses up to 300 mg daily, but they might be wasting their money. Also make sure patients know that taking biotin supplements can cause false negatives and false positives on some lab tests, including various hormone assays, among others.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2020 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.