Supplementing Dietary Nutrients: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals by Thomas G. Guilliams. Stevens Point, Wisconsin: Point Institute; 2014. Softcover, 195 pages. ISBN: 978-0-9856158-0-2. $39.95.
This book claims to fill a much-needed void. It was written to assist healthcare professionals (e.g., clinicians, pharmacists, dietitians, nurses, and health coaches) with evidence-based science and practical information about recommending dietary supplements to patients.
On the positive side, Dr. Guilliams has written an easy-to-read, factual book about some, but not all, dietary supplements. The information is current, and key references are cited. The chapters on probiotics and how to choose a marine-derived omega-3 product were superb and worth the price of the book. In the section where clinicians can readily find information about supplements — the meat of the book — most pages (about 60 to 80) are devoted to vitamins and minerals. Healthcare providers usually know about these.
Instead, I wish the author had included less well-known nutrients. He reviewed only a few (e.g., choline, coenzyme Q10, and probiotics), and these were covered briefly (20 pages). In addition, the section on herbs dealt with how they are prepared and contamination issues — both of which are important, but clinicians really want to know how much of which herbs should be used for a specific condition.
What concerned me was that I am not sure that the book delivered on its promise. This was supposed to be a primer for a healthcare professional, but Dr. Guilliams does not seem to have experience in a clinical setting (His PhD is in molecular immunology, and he is currently the vice president of science and regulatory affairs for Ortho Molecular Products, a manufacturer of dietary supplements sold through health professionals.). At times, he writes statements that, to me, are not in the best interest of the patient. For example, Dr. Guilliams presents a table of “dirty” and “clean” fruits and vegetables. On some level, this may be important, but in my experience providing nutritional counseling to patients for more than 20 years at urban teaching hospitals, most patients do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. Suggesting some over others simply reduces the likelihood patients will eat more of them, which they should. In addition, the chapter on protein has information on vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources, which is desirable; however, he never acknowledged the importance of protein quality (e.g., as rated by the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score [PDCAAS]). During convalescence, it is imperative to recommend a high-protein diet and one with a high PDCAAS to optimize protein synthesis. He recommended hemp, rice, and potato proteins, which have low PDCAAS compared to whey protein, which he also recommended.
However, as I continued reading the book, the proverbial light bulb finally lit up. All along, I thought the book was for healthcare professionals who work in conventional institutional settings. I went back to re-read the preface and realized that the book really is geared toward functional and integrative medicine practitioners, with whom Dr. Guilliams spent a lifetime teaching and interacting. In fact, he founded the Point Institute, the publisher of this book, as “an independent research organization focused on examining and disseminating information about the use of natural therapeutic options for treating and preventing chronic disease.” For clinicians who practice functional and integrative medicine, the book is a homerun; anyone who practices in this sector should own this book. Besides containing information on dietary supplements, the book also has excellent materials on defining what dietary supplements are and how they are regulated, dietary patterns that promote health, and an overview of macronutrients (i.e., protein, carbohydrate, and fat). At the end, Dr. Guilliams presents a diet plan for implementing a low-glycemic load “Mediterranean” diet. Readers should know that the book includes more than just dietary supplement information, as the title suggests.
For those who work in more conventional practices (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes), the book is full of excellent information, but it does not deliver on its promise of being a quick-reference guide to help with dietary supplement recommendations. I hope Dr. Guilliams, with his excellent knowledge about the science of dietary supplements, will consider writing a book geared toward this group of clinicians. He could skip the information on vitamins and minerals and include more content about less-conventional dietary supplements.
—Stacey J. Bell, RD, DSc Nutritional Consultant Belmont, Massachusetts