Use of Dietary Supplements on the Rise

The National Center for Health Statistics recently issued a report showing that use of dietary supplements has been on an upward trajectory over the past decade — only 40% of Americans took supplements in 1988, compared with 53% who took supplements in 2006. 

Multivitamins/​multiminerals are defined as dietary supplements that contain at least three vitamins and may or may not contain minerals.  Dietary supplements can contain nutrients in amounts as high as or higher than the Institute of Medicine’s Recommended Dietary Reference Intakes, therefore contributing substantially to total nutrient intake.

We’re encouraged to see the government confirm what we’ve seen about dietary supplement usage — that it’s growing,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition in a release issued Wednesday. “Sales are up for this category, and our own consumer research has demonstrated steady usage by approximately two-​thirds of U.S. adults [over] the past seven years.”

More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements each year to improve their overall health, to fill in nutrient gaps and because their doctors recommend them, Mister added.

Key findings:

  • Use of dietary supplements is common among the U.S. adult population. Over 40% used supplements in 1988–1994, and over one-​half in 2003–2006.
  • Multivitamins/​multiminerals are the most commonly used dietary supplements, with approximately 40% of men and women reporting use during 2003–2006.
  • Use of supplemental calcium increased from 28% during 1988–1994 to 61% during 2003–2006 among women aged 60 and over.
  • Use of supplements containing folic acid among women aged 20–39 did not increase since 1988–1994. In 2003–2006, 34% of women aged 20–39 used a dietary supplement containing folic acid.
  • Use of dietary supplements containing vitamin D increased from 1988–1994 through 1999–2002 for men and women in most age groups.
[Source:  NCHS Data Brief, #61.  The National Center for Health Statistics.  Apr. 2011.  Web.  23 Apr. 2011.]