Would you trust a 19-year-old university student with three facial piercing to prescribe your medication? Neither would I. So why do we ask them for advice about supplements when they work in health food stores? According to a new study, employees at health food stores give unscientific advice about supplements 88 percent of the time, reports the CBC. Students from Athabasca University visited 192 health food stores and 56 pharmacies across Canada between 2002 and 2008. They found that health food store staff often gave misleading advice about expensive supplements, while pharmacist gave advice backed by science 73 per cent of the time.
Now, I have nothing against 19-year-olds with multiple piercing. They’re fun at parties and will surely make competent professionals in the future. But for the most part, they aren’t trained in pharmacology, naturopathic medicine, nutrition or traditional medicine. I know that, and yet I still ask my friendly neighbourhood health-food store clerk, ‘Hey, can you recommend something to help with my insomnia?’ But as I write this, that just seems silly to me.
Do you trust the staff at your health food store to recommend supplements for what ails you, or do you always check with your doctor, pharmacist or naturopath before purchasing anything in pill form?