More than one-third of Americans take dietary supplements, with multivitamin or mineral supplements accounting for 40% of all vitamin sales. The most common supplement contains fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, DHA or EPA. About 30% of adults over 65 take four or more supplements of any type. The most common reasons for using supplements are to “improve” (45%) or “maintain” (33%) overall health.
Women use calcium products for “bone health” (36%), while men are more likely to report using supplements for “heart health” or to lower cholesterol (18%). Older adults (≥ 60 years old) are more likely than younger people to express motivations related to site-specific reasons, such as heart, bone, joint and eye health. Only 23% of the products are used as recommended by a healthcare provider. Multivitamin and mineral supplements are the most commonly taken type of supplement, followed by calcium and Ω-3 or fish oil supplements. Supplement users are more likely to report very good or excellent health, have health insurance, consume alcohol moderately, avoid smoking cigarettes, and exercise more frequently than non-users.
Multivitamins, vitamin D, echinacea, and fish oil are among the many dietary supplements that are available in stores or online. Dietary supplements can be beneficial to health, but they can also pose health risks. Therefore, it's important to talk to a health professional to help you decide if a supplement is right for you. The second most popular category is specialty supplements (40 percent), followed by herbal and botanical products (39 percent), sports nutrition supplements (28 percent) and weight control supplements (17 percent). Participants were also asked if they had used the supplement for their own reasons or on the advice of a healthcare provider. Dietary supplement companies are required to report serious adverse effects from their dietary supplements to the FDA within 15 days.
However, given the widespread use of dietary supplements for the promotion and maintenance of health, increased clinical research efforts are warranted to address safety and efficacy. The Dietary Supplement Questionnaire (DSQ) was used to collect detailed information on participants' use of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements over the past 30 days. Relative search volume determined using adjusted data showing the breakdown by region (lutein + another topic related to dietary supplements). Calcium-containing supplements were the second most commonly reported product (12%) and were reported almost exclusively for “bone health” or “for joint health” and the prevention of arthritis. Dietary supplements are intended to add to or supplement the diet and are different from conventional foods. The survey was conducted online in English and included a national sample of 2,006 adults 18 years of age or older living in the United States, including 1,529 of those considered supplement users.
Although the FDA does not approve dietary supplements, the agency plays a role in regulating them. Users of dietary supplements, and especially those who consumed dietary supplements, were more likely to report very good or excellent health than non-consumers. Among all age groups, adults between 35 and 54 years old consume the most dietary supplements, with 81 percent. There was a significant reverse trend with age and a higher prevalence of the use of dietary supplements was reported to “improve overall health”, supplement diet, “increase immunity or prevent colds” and “gain more energy”.