The Five Top Reasons People Take Supplements

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Supplement users are more likely to report excellent health.Here’s some compelling evidence in support of all you supplement users out there: you’re more likely to be healthy. In fact, according to U.S. researchers, if you regularly take supplements, you’re more likely to report very good or excellent health, have health insurance, use alcohol moderately, avoid cigarette smoking, and exercise more frequently than nonusers.

Dietary supplements are used by more than half of adults, although the reasons motivating this use have not been previously examined across the nation—until now.

U.S. researchers just completed a study in which they analyzed people’s motivations for taking dietary supplements. They then reported on the types of products used and examined the role of physicians and health care practitioners in guiding choices about dietary supplements.

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To do this, they collected data from adults enrolled in the 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Here’s what they found:

• The most commonly reported reasons for using supplements were to “improve” (45%) or “maintain” (33%) overall health

• 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 of age or older) 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 health-care provider

• Multivitamin-mineral products were the most frequently reported type of supplement taken, followed by calcium and omega-3 or fish oil supplements

There you have it—a snapshot of the average supplement user’s lifestyle, and it seems to be a pretty healthy one. While the study doesn’t specifically say if supplement use does indeed boost bone health, or joint health, or eye health, it does seem to suggest that the overall health of supplement users seems to be pretty high.

It could be that taking supplements have health benefits over and above the specific reasons for which they are being taken. Talk to your health care provider if you would like to add some supplements to your weekly nutritional intake.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Five Top Reasons People Take Supplements
Bailey, R.L., et al., “Why US Adults Use Dietary Supplements,” JAMA Intern Med. February 4, 2013: 1–7.