Dietary supplement users reported motivations related to overall health more commonly than for supplementing nutrients from food intake, and use was related to more favorable health and lifestyle choices, according to research published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Supplement users are more likely to report very good or excellent health, have health insurance, use alcohol moderately, eschew cigarette smoking and exercise more frequently than non-users.
Less than a quarter of supplements used by adults were recommended by a physician or healthcare provider.
According to the study abstract, dietary supplements are used by more than half of adults, although the reasons motivating use have not been previously examined in U.S. adults using nationally representative data, researches said. This analysis examined motivations for dietary supplement use, characterized the types of products used for the most commonly reported motivations and examined the role of physicians and healthcare practitioners in guiding choices about dietary supplements.
Data from adults (≥20 years; n = 11,956) were examined in the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative, cross-sectional, population-based survey.
The most commonly reported reasons for using supplements were to “improve” (45%) or “maintain” (33%) overall health, according to study results. Women used calcium products for “bone health” (36%), whereas men were more likely to report supplement use for “heart health or to lower cholesterol” (18%).
Older adults (≥60 years) were more likely than younger individuals to report motivations related to site-specific reasons like heart, bone and joint and eye health. Only 23% of products were used based on recommendations of a healthcare provider.
Multivitamin-mineral products were the most frequently reported type of supplement taken, followed by calcium and omega 3 or fish oil supplements.