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14 April 2011

Dietary supplements still popular

More than half of US adults take dietary supplements, such as multivitamins and calcium, and their use jumped dramatically over a recent 20-year period, according to a new government report.

More than half of US adults take dietary supplements, such as multivitamins and calcium, and their use jumped dramatically over a recent 20-year period, according to a new government report.

Media attention on vitamin D likely boosted intake of that supplement, she said, and massive advertising by the supplement industry may have influenced use of multivitamins. But some experts say multivitamins may not be necessary.

Increase in supplements noted

  • More women (59%) than men (49%) use supplements.
  • Use of multivitamins, the most commonly consumed supplement, rose from 30% in the earlier period to 39% by 2003-2006.
  • Calcium use by women 60 and older increased from 28% to 61% across the three time periods, but varied by race and ethnicity.
  • Consumption of folic acid supplements, recommended for women of childbearing age, also varied by race and ethnicity, but stayed at about 34% from 1988 to 2006, Gahche's group found. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. Folate is found in green leafy vegetables and beans.
  • Twenty-four percent of men and 30% of women took vitamin D in 1988-1994, a figure that stayed stable for younger adults but increased for men and women ages 40 to 59. Use of vitamin D, which is difficult to obtain in foods, also increased among women 60 and older, jumping from 49.7% to 56.3% from 1999-2002 to 2003-2006.

 
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