Essential Tips for Navigating Allergens in Nutritional Supplements

Essential Tips for Navigating Allergens in Nutritional Supplements

Jan 30, 2024 | Patient Care, Practice Management

If you’re a healthcare provider who recommends supplements to your patients, addressing allergen concerns in nutritional supplements is a critical aspect of effective care. This guide aims to equip healthcare professionals with the tools to discuss supplements with patients and manage potential allergen-related worries.

Understanding Allergens in Dietary Supplements

Healthcare providers may encounter patients with concerns about potential allergens in nutritional supplements. Concerns about allergic reactions can add complexity to a patient supplement plan and the selection process, but fortunately there are things that can inform our selections. We can accommodate patient concerns and our concerns about sensitivities by using the information discussed here.

Labeling and Identifying Allergens in Supplements

Allergen Label

Accurate labeling plays a pivotal role in protecting people from allergens present in dietary supplements. Supplement manufacturers must comply with FDA’s guidelines since dietary supplements, which are regulated as a subset of foods, can contain food allergens. Here are a few ways supplement manufacturers will alert you (and your patients) to potential allergens:

  • Using parentheses in the Supplement Facts panel on labeling
  • Including an ‘other ingredients’ statement when listing ingredients
  • Following ingredient lists with a ‘Contains’ statement, to call out major allergens

While evaluating allergen-free supplements, consider looking for products that are labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ or explicitly mention they are free of common allergens.

Food Allergens and Their Presence in Supplements

Most food allergies can be attributed to well-known sources like milk, eggs, fish/shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and wheat. Many supplement vendors take measures to avoid these common allergies, and clearly document which products are/are not safe for patients with sensitivities.

However, artificial components present in supplements and personal care products can initiate skin responses, such as allergic contact dermatitis. Synthetic vitamin E, for instance, is more likely to elicit allergic contact dermatitis compared to its natural equivalent. If you have a patient with a history of allergies, it’s important to evaluate ingredients for any product they may begin taking.

The Benefits of Professional-Grade, Allergen-Free Supplements

Professional grade, allergen-free supplements are manufactured to conform to strict standards, and undergo rigorous safety and quality tests. Supplement brands manufacturing to cGMP certification standards are a great fit for your patients, including those with allergies as you work with them to address nutritional deficiency through food and supplementation.

Having access to allergen-free supplements can also benefit your business! Of course, their primary purpose is to minimize the risk of allergic reactions and enhance the safety and comfort of individuals with allergies. Whether your patients buy supplements directly from the office, or from your online supplement dispensary, there are many ways to create a safe and easy experience for those with allergies.

Not all vendors of supplements on marketplace platforms with multiple “sellers” can be trusted. For instance, NOW Foods regularly tests supplements sold on platforms such as Amazon, and continues to discover insufficient or inaccurate labeling that puts your patient at risk for ingesting unknown ingredients that are potentially allergenic.

Enhancing Patient Awareness of Allergens in Supplements

Allergen-free supplements, such as those that are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegan, and non-GMO, offer a safer alternative for patients with allergies. They also aid in addressing nutritional deficiencies and supporting improved overall health, making them particularly beneficial for patients with food allergies or sensitivities.

Educating patients about the potential presence of allergens in their supplements is crucial to ensure they avoid any allergic reactions from nutritional supplements

Awareness and Education

Emphasize the importance of looking for allergen-free labels such as ‘Gluten-Free’, ‘Dairy-Free’, ‘Nut-Free’, ‘Soy-Free’, ‘Vegan’, and ‘Non-GMO’. These labels indicate that the supplements are free from common allergens and are safe for consumption by patients with food allergies or sensitivities. They also provide a convenient solution for patients to obtain necessary nutrients without worrying about allergy triggers or sensitivities, which simplifies their daily health management.

The Impact of Allergens on Nutritional Status

Allergens can influence nutritional status, resulting in deficient intake, thereby raising questions about the routine supplementation for patients with allergies. Individuals with food allergies are susceptible to certain nutrient deficiencies, specifically:

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Trace elements such as zinc, selenium, and magnesium.

In fact, a study examining vitamin and mineral supplementation in children with non-IgE mediated allergies on elimination diets revealed a notable difference. It was observed that while some children had insufficient intake of micronutrients, not all of them were receiving adequate vitamin and mineral supplements which could have improved their nutritional status.

Risk of Deficient Intake Due to Allergies

Patients with allergies might face the risk of nutrient intake deficiency. To ensure optimal nutritional status, healthcare providers may evaluate the benefits and risks of routine supplementation for patients with allergies. Routine supplementation can assist in maintaining nutritional status by averting nutritional deficiencies and bolstering immune function.

Additionally, researchers recommended routine supplementation with a multivitamin/mineral supplement for those with multiple food allergies. This is due to the common deficiency in several nutrients including:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Enhance Your Care for Patients with an Online Patient Supplement Dispensary

Understanding allergens in dietary supplements and navigating allergen-free options is crucial for the safety and well-being of patients with allergies. Utilizing online dispensaries like Doctors Supplement Store can simplify this process and help healthcare providers overcome the challenges of selling supplements by having access to a variety of high-quality supplements from trusted manufacturers.