How do pharmacists use and recommend vitamins, minerals, herbals and other dietary supplements?

Srujitha Marupuru, David Rhys Axon, Marion K. Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including vitamins, minerals, herbals, and other dietary supplements, is widespread in the United States (ranging from 24% in Hispanics to 50% in American Indians). Pharmacists are an accessible source for healthcare information, but little is known about their use of CAM products and to whom they would recommend these products. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was sent via email to pharmacists licensed in one state in the United States in 2015. The survey included items about their use of 10 vitamins and minerals, and 21 herbal or other dietary supplements, as well as reasons for use, conditions used to treat, if they would recommend the product to patients, family, or friends, their perception of CAM safety and effectiveness, and four demographic questions. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data, and a chi-square test was used to determine differences between pharmacists' use of vitamins/minerals and herbals/other dietary supplements. The a priori alpha level was 0.05. Results: A total of 639 pharmacists completed the survey. Female pharmacists used vitamins/minerals (p = 0.031) and herbals/others (p = 0.039) more than male pharmacists. Older pharmacists used herbals/others more than younger pharmacists (p < 0.001). Fifty-nine percent thought the dietary supplements in the survey were safe while 32% reported they were effective. Seventy-eight percent of respondents reported use of any vitamin or mineral product versus 42% who reported use of any herbal or other dietary supplement. Commonly used products included: multivitamins (91%), vitamin C (71%), fish oil (65%), probiotics (53%), and fiber (53%). The most commonly reported reason for use was general health and wellness (17-90%). Pharmacists most commonly recommend fiber/psyllium (94%) and calcium (90%) to patients, family, and friends. Conclusions: Pharmacists in this survey selectively used vitamins, minerals, herbals and other dietary supplements, and recommended some of the more commonly used products to patients, family and friends. This is valuable information given that pharmacists are frontline healthcare professionals who may be asked to provide advice about these products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number229
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 22 2019


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Herbals
  • Pharmacists
  • Vitamins & minerals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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