A report published in the February, 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reveals widespread use of dietary supplements among Americans, particularly among older individuals.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Maryland utilized data obtained from 18,758 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006. Infants under the age of one were excluded from the current analysis.Forty-four percent of males and 53 percent of females reported using supplements, which is an increase from the percentages reported in earlier NHANES surveys beginning in 1971. For those aged 71 and older, supplement use was reported by 70 percent. Multivitamin/mineral formulas were the most common form of supplementation. Twenty-eight to 30 percent of those surveyed used supplements containing vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E; 18 to 19 percent used chromium, iron and selenium, and 26-27 percent used magnesium and zinc. Herbs were used by 20 percent of adults and were more commonly used by older adults.While 56 percent of those of normal weight were supplement users, this number declined to 48 percent among those who were obese, a finding that is consistent with that of other analyses. Non-Hispanic whites were more likely to use supplements compared to Hispanics and non-whites and higher education was associated with greater use of supplements compared to having a high school diploma or less education."About one-half of the US population and 70% of adults ≥ 71 years use dietary supplements; one-third use multivitamin-multimineral dietary supplements," the authors conclude. "Given the widespread use of supplements, data should be included with nutrient intakes from foods to correctly determine total nutrient exposure."