About Half of Adults Use Dietary Supplements On A Regular Basis

Dr. Annette Dickinson PhD Consultant to the Council for Responsible Nutrition.MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Annette Dickinson PhD
Consultant to the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?  

Dr. Dickinson: “A five-year series of consumer surveys (2007 to 2011) consistently found that about half of adult consumers use dietary supplements on a regular basis, and a higher percentage (about 2/3) report using dietary supplements when occasional as well as regular use is taken into account.  Over the five years, there was a shift in the pattern of supplement use, with the percentage of respondents who said they regularly used mostly a multivitamin declining, and the percentage who said they regularly used a variety of products increasing.  The top 7 products used were:  multivitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, B vitamins, and vitamin E.  The main reasons given for supplement use were for overall health and wellness (58% of users) and to fill nutrient gaps in the diet (42%).  Supplement users were more likely than nonusers to say they try to eat a balanced diet, visit their doctor regularly, get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight.  This indicates that supplement use is part of an overall approach to seeking a healthy lifestyle.”

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Dickinson: “These surveys found that overall consumer use of dietary supplements is more prevalent than has been reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).  The NHANES surveys ask respondents what dietary supplements they have taken in the previous month.  This question will capture regular use, but will capture only a fraction of those who use supplements occasionally during the year.  Recent NHANES surveys have reported that about half of American adults use dietary supplements.  In our surveys, we see this level of regular use, while overall use is somewhat higher (about 2/3 rather than half of respondents).”

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? 

Dr. Dickinson: “Dietary supplement use is very common among American adults, is undertaken primarily for understandable reasons, and tends to be associated with efforts to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  These positive aspects of supplement use are not reason for concern, but information about supplement use should be part of the patient’s health record, so that aberrant or excessive usage patterns can be identified and discussed and so that specific recommendations for supplement use can be made based on the patient’s needs.”

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study? 

Dr. Dickinson: “More specific information is needed on the quantities of nutrients and other components provided by the dietary supplements used.  Databases are being developed which will be valuable in facilitating the collection of such information.”


Consumer usage and reasons for using dietary supplements: report of a series of surveys

Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Annette Dickinson PhD, Judy Blatman, Neale El-Dash PhD & Julio C. Franco

Volume 33, Issue 2, 2014 pages 176-182



Last Updated on April 18, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD