Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

Nutrition Diva listener Gary sent in a doozy of a question. He writes:

Every year, when I go for my vision check-up, my eye doctor recommends a special vitamin supplement that's supposed to protect my eyes -- specifically, one she sells in her office. Every year I decline, indicating that I eat the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits (which, as you confirmed in a recent post) should be sufficient.

This year, she challenged me on this, citing new research showing that even a healthy diet does not provide enough zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin to protect eye health.  The supplement she sells, of course, provided the solution. Would you comment on whether we really need these nutrients, which foods provide them, as well as the apparent conflict of interest involved in a health care professional selling supplements."

Should Doctors Sell Supplements?
Let's start with the question of whether it's a conflict of interest for doctors to sell vitamin supplements to their patients. Although it is a subject of great controversy within the profession, it is not illegal for health care professionals to sell products to their patients. Most doctors who sell vitamins or other products insist that patient care is their primary motive. They argue that making products available in their offices makes it easier for patients to follow through on their recommendations and ensures that patients end up with high-quality supplements.

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