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FAQ Minerals Deficiencies: Lack of Nutrition Training 

I tried to talk with my doctor about magnesium and other nutritional supplements. ‘There’s no proof that they work,’ was his response. Why are doctors so opposed to nutrition as a way of helping A-Fib.”

Unfortunately in the US, doctors have been taught to consider medication and surgery as the recognized way to treat patients, to the exclusion of nutrition. According to Dr. Colin Campbell, in his book, The China Study, “doctors have virtually no training in nutrition and how it relates to health…Nutrition training of doctors is not merely inadequate; it is practically nonexistent.”

For many doctors, the only therapy they will consider is an FDA-approved medication. Anything else is considered ‘snake oil’.

According the to 2010 report “Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools”, less than 1/4 of physicians feel they received adequate training in counseling patients on diet or physical activity. How does this happen? The research went on to report that fewer than 30% of medical schools are meeting the minimum number of hours of nutrition and physical activity training recommended by the national academy of sciences. No wonder!

For traditionally trained doctors, nutrition education, if any, is usually in the context of other courses like biochemistry and physiology, with the emphasis on the major discipline by teachers who have little interest and expertise in nutrition. Few medical programs hire nutrition-oriented physicians.

But this situation may be changing.

More of today’s medical schools are devoting time to nutrition especially as it relates to public health problems like obesity. At medical conferences (like the Boston Atrial Fibrillation Symposium), you will hear cardiologists and EPs discuss nutritional remedies for Atrial Fibrillation. (See Dr. T. Jared Bunch’s discussion of A-Fib and Dementia in the 2011 Boston AF Symposium.)

These days it’s possible for A-Fib patients to find an EP willing to discuss use of nutritional supplements. Many EPs today take a ‘whole-person’ approach to patient treatment. For example, when seeking an ablation, EPs will assist and even require an overweight or obese patient to change their nutritional habits and lose weight before they have a catheter ablation.

Seek a Holistic Approach

If your doctor isn’t willing (or trained) to discuss nutrition and mineral deficiencies with you, seek another doctor who will. In addition, you may want to seek out medical professionals who specialize in nutrition and take a holistic approach to treatment. Your search may lead you to an ‘integrative medical’ professional—physician, nurse, and/or health coach or a licensed naturopathic physician (ND). (See our FAQ: How do I find a doctor with a more “holistic” approach? I want nutritional counseling and a more integrated approach?)

References for this Article
¤ Campbell, T. Colin and Campbell II, Thomas M. The China Syndrome. Benbella Books, Dallas, TX. 2006.
¤ Adams, K.M., Kohlmeier, M., & Zeisel, S.H. (2010) “Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey.” Academic Medicine, 85(9): 1537-1542. Last accessed Dec 1 2014. URL:
Editor’s comments
Contrary to your doctor’s comments, there’s loads of research studies about mineral deficiencies in patients. Research has shown that some uses of dietary supplements are beneficial to health. For example, folic acid (vitamin C) prevents certain birth defects. And magnesium is used after heart surgery to avoid developing atrial fibrillation.

Return to: FAQ Minerals & Supplements
Last updated: Monday, June 18, 2018

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