Scientific review points to supplement users engaging in a pattern of healthy habits

February 6, 2014, Council for Responsible Nutrition

Dietary supplement users take these products as just one component of a larger effort to develop a healthier lifestyle, according to a newly published review in Nutrition Journal, a peer-reviewed scientific publication. The review, "Health Habits and Other Characteristics of Supplement Users" (Nutrition Journal.2014, 13:14), co-authored by Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) consultant Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., and CRN's senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Duffy MacKay, N.D., examined data from 20 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and found that, "overall, the evidence suggests that users of dietary supplements are seeking wellness and are consciously adopting a variety of lifestyle habits that they consider to contribute to healthy living."

"Compiling the available data on the of users, we gained a sharper insight into the positive lifestyle choices of this large segment—one half to two-thirds—of the American population that takes supplements," Dr. Dickinson said. "Evidence from numerous surveys shows that dietary supplement users are more likely than non-users to adopt a number of positive health-related habits such as consuming healthier diets, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding tobacco products."

The review indicated that Americans who take dietary supplements are focused on wellness for the long term. Dr. MacKay observed, "Dietary supplement users typically make healthful habits part of each day, and many stick with their supplement regimen for years. Their supplement use doesn't appear to be something trendy, but more of a planned strategy they maintain for the long haul."

The results of this review counter concerns that dietary supplement users are operating under a "halo effect" or are somehow short-changing themselves, eating poorly, using the remote control for exercise, and relying on a supplement alone for good health. The data indicate that, in fact, dietary supplement users make better food choices in addition to taking supplements. A report on the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) calculated nutrient intakes of dietary supplement users as compared to non-users and found that people who used dietary supplements had somewhat higher intakes of most nutrients from food alone (not counting the nutrients in dietary supplements) than people who were not supplement users.

On the flip side, contrary to assertions that supplement users are eating better already and therefore don't need the supplements they take, the NHANES data shows many Americans failed to consume the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for many nutrients when only naturally-occurring nutrients in foods were considered. Enrichment and fortification of foods decreased the prevalence of intakes below the EAR, and the use of dietary supplements further decreased shortfalls. For example, for vitamin A and calcium, more than half of NHANES respondents fell short. Food fortification lowered the prevalence of shortfalls to 50 percent for these nutrients. Supplementation drove the prevalence of shortfalls down even further, but 33 percent of the respondents still fell short.

"It's important to give dietary supplement users credit for their efforts to improve their overall wellness profile with thoughtful choices," said Dr. MacKay, "The scientific evidence indicates that they tend to incorporate these products into their lifestyles as part of a broader focus on healthy living, with supplement use just one of a constellation of smart, healthy habits."

Explore further: New study outlines benefits of nutritional supplement use in college students

Related Stories

New study outlines benefits of nutritional supplement use in college students

January 24, 2014
Habits acquired during young adulthood are crucial in fostering lifelong health. Unfortunately, some college students fall into nutrient-deficient diets that leave them at risk for developing chronic disease later in life. ...

Dietary supplement use among older persons

December 6, 2013
Many older people are ingesting too much magnesium and vitamin E in the form of dietary supplements. This was discovered by scientists of the Helmholtz Zentrum München in a population-based study; their results have been ...

Monitoring the population's food and supplement intakes

March 8, 2012
Collecting data on what the U.S. population actually consumes is a key nutrition monitoring step. Nutritionists then translate "foods eaten" into "nutrients consumed." This snapshot of the population's food-nutrient intakes ...

NIH launches Dietary Supplement Label Database

June 18, 2013
Researchers, as well as health care providers and consumers, can now see the ingredients listed on the labels of about 17,000 dietary supplements by looking them up on a website. The Dietary Supplement Label Database, free ...

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reinforces importance of food, not supplements

December 18, 2013
While dietary supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.