ConsumerLab.com recently completed a survey of vitamin and supplement users, which polled over 10,000 people who take supplements, and found that CoQ10, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and B vitamins were the four categories experiencing the most growth over the prior year. The percentage of respondents using those supplements rose, respectively, by 5.1, 5.0, 3.0, and 2.5 points compared to the prior year. The most popular supplements, based on the percentage of respondents using them, were fish/marine oils (71.7%), multivitamins (65.4%), vitamin D (55.5%), CoQ10 (54.1%), calcium (48.4%), B vitamins (44.2%), and vitamin C (41.2%), followed by 25 other common supplements. The largest declines were in the use of calcium supplements and multivitamins, which fell, respectively, by 2.2 and 1.7 percentage points.
The majority of respondents (87%) were 45 years of age or older and female (55.5%). On average, the respondents took 6.6 different supplements daily.
According to the survey, women were much more likely than men to take supplements containing vitamin D, calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, probiotics or iron. Men were more likely than women to take CoQ10, vitamin C, herbs, glucosamine/chondroitin, other minerals (i.e., other than calcium, magnesium and iron), vitamin E, resveratrol, melatonin, amino acids, plant sterols/stanols, vitamin A/beta-carotene, SAMe, "super fruits," sports supplements, and "enhancement" supplements (which less than 1% of women indicated using, compared to over 6% of men).
The survey uncovered other important trends, particularly regarding use of the Internet in buying supplements. Online stores were used by 45.4% of respondents, rising 2.6 percentage points over the prior year to further distance it from the next most popular vendors: health food stores (used by 28.8% of respondents), warehouse clubs (28.2%), mail order catalogues (27.7%), supermarkets (25.7%), vitamin stores (24.7%), pharmacies (24.4%), mass merchants (16.8%), direct distributors (12.3%), and health care practitioners (7.6%).
Further evidence of the influence of the Internet is that among the 851 different retailers from which respondents buy supplements, Amazon is the 3rd most popular, up from 10th the prior year, 13th in 2010, and 16th in 2009.
Other notable findings regarding the use of the Internet to purchase dietary supplements:
- People who used the most supplements are especially likely to shop online. Among those taking 10 or more supplements daily, 56.7% purchased online compared to 24.2% of those taking only one supplement.
- 49.2% of men shopped online vs. 42.8% of women.
- Although Internet shopping decreased with age, 30% of those over age 85 shopped online for supplements -- up from 15% last year. More than 58% of respondents under age 45 shopped online.
Respondents also rated 1,438 brands and 851 merchants they used. The supplement brands and merchants receiving the highest rating on overall consumer satisfaction within their specific market segment are listed on the ConsumerLab.com website.