A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that dietary supplement use in U.S. adults has been on the rise. Multivitamin-mineral supplements remain the most consumed product type used, but the prevalence of use of these combination products decreased at the same time there was an increase in other types of vitamin and mineral products.
Among children, patterns of use and products remained stable from 2007-2018, although use of supplements increased for girls and among children living with food insecurity, according to the research team led by Regan Bailey, Ph.D., (at the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture at Texas A&M University) and her post-doctoral fellow, Alexandra Cowan, Ph.D.
Dietary supplement use is widespread in the U.S. and contributes large amounts of micronutrients to users. The study’s objective was to characterize dietary supplement use, examine trends in dietary supplementation and assess the use of micronutrient-containing dietary supplements in a national representative sample of the U.S. population (>1 y), using multiple modes of dietary supplement assessment.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2007-2018), a nationally representative survey conducted to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans, was utilized. NHANES employs an in-home inventory with a frequency-based dietary supplement and prescription medicine questionnaire and two 24-hour dietary recalls to collect dietary supplement information.
Most studies have relied on data from one dietary assessment method to characterize the prevalence of dietary supplement use, usually a long-term tool like questionnaires. In this paper, the research team used a combination of longer term and shorter-term tools to characterize supplement use patterns. Combining multiple dietary assessment methods could enhance the ability to characterize dietary supplement use, which can be both habitual and episodic, so the combination of tools is likely to best reflect this.
Dietary supplement use increased from 50% in 2007 to 56% in 2018. Use of micronutrient products rose from 46% to 49%. And single-nutrient dietary supplements, such as magnesium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, also increased. In contrast, multivitamin-mineral use decreased from 70% to 56%.
In adults (>19 y), any dietary supplement use increased from 54% to 61%, and micronutrient-containing supplement use increased from 49% to 54%, with notable increases among men, non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics and low-income adults. In children, any dietary supplement use remained stable (~38%), as did micronutrient-containing dietary supplement use. Exceptions were noted among girls and children living with food insecurity, whose use increased from 24% to 31% over the decade.
Although this cross-sectional analysis is unable to draw inferences regarding the reasons for changes in dietary supplement use over time at the individual level, variations in the prevalence of use were observed among population subgroups. Still, dietary supplement use is widespread in the U.S. and these products can contribute large amounts of certain vitamins and minerals to users.
Cowan AE, Tooze JA, Gahche JJ, Eicher-Miller HA, Guenther MP, Dwyer JT, Potischman N, Bhadra A, Carroll RJ, Bailey RL. Trends in Overall and Micronutrient-Containing Dietary Supplement Use in US Adults and Children., NHANES 2007 – 2018. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 12, December 2022, Pages 2789-2801. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxac168.
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