JAMA: Overall supplement use stable, though use of multivitamins down


CHICAGO - Supplement use among U.S. adults remained stable from 1999-2012, with more than half of adults reporting use of supplements, while use of multivitamins decreased during this time period, according to a study appearing in the Oct. 11 issue of JAMA.

Overall, the use of supplements remained stable between 1999 and 2012, with 52%of U.S. adults reporting use of any supplements in 2011-2012. Use of MVMM decreased, with 37% reporting use in 1999-2000 and 31% reporting use in 2011-2012.

“This new study on dietary supplement trends demonstrates that supplement use is a mainstream and consistent component of consumers’ health care practices, with the majority of U.S. adults indicating they take them,” stated Judy Blatman, SVP communications for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. “We’re encouraged by the authors’ interest and thoughtful assessment of dietary supplement usage, and are further encouraged that the results show the same steady interest by consumers that we’ve seen in our own market research surveys.”

"It is now well documented that more than half of U.S. adults use supplements," Pieter Cohen of the Cambridge Health Alliance noted. "Physicians should include supplements when they review medications with all patients and also consider supplements when symptoms raise the possibility of a supplement-related adverse effect," he added. "The current study by Kantor et al should also lead funders and legislators to reconsider their priorities with respect to supplements. Given the current regulatory framework, even high-quality research appears to have only modest effects on supplement use. Future efforts should focus on developing regulatory reforms that provide consumers with accurate information about the efficacy and safety of supplements and on improving mechanisms for identifying products that are causing more harm than good."

There were a pair of standout increases in suipplementation. For example, Vitamin D supplementation from sources other than MVMM increased from 5.1% to 19% and use of fish oil supplements increased from 1.3% to 12% over the study period.

However, use of a number of other supplements decreased, including vitamins C, E and selenium.

Elizabeth Kantor of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine trends in supplement use among U.S. adults from 1999 through 2012, with a focus on use of any supplement products and multivitamins/multiminerals (MVMM; defined as a product containing 10 or more vitamins and/or minerals), as well as use of individual vitamins, minerals, and nonvitamin, nonmineral supplements.

Participants were surveyed over seven continuous 2-year cycles.

A total of 37,958 adults were included in the study (average age, 46 years; women, 52%), with a response rate of 74%.

"With the present data, it is clear that the use of supplements among U.S. adults has stabilized. This stabilization appears to be the balance of several opposing trends, with a major contributing downward factor being the decrease in use of MVMM," the authors wrote.


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