Survey finds surprising facts about supplement use

Survey finds surprising facts about supplement use

Fewer people are taking daily vitamins but more folks are popping a cocktail of dietary supplements, according to a new survey of marketing statistics.

Overall, dietary supplement use is much higher than previously thought, researchers said. Additionally, the survey shows that most people who take the supplements are not trying to make up for bad health habits.

“What the data tells us is that dietary supplement usage is a mainstream practice, and, contrary to some assertions, supplement users do not use these products as a license to slack off on eating right or exercising, but instead are health conscious individuals trying to do all the right things to be healthy,” said study co-author, Judy Blatman, in a news release. “They are more likely than nonusers to try to eat a balanced diet, visit their doctor regularly, get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight.”

Researchers looked at five years’ worth of data about usage patterns of dietary supplement users and published their findings in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Studying patterns over those years, researchers discovered that twice as many regular supplement users said they used an assortment of products, compared to those who only reported taking a multivitamin.

Those who have made a habit of taking supplements say they do it for “overall health and wellness” and “to fill nutrient gaps in the diet,” study leaders said.

While many nutrition experts find value in taking dietary supplements, the practice does carry some risks, especially when it comes to herbal products.

A recent study found that most herbal remedies contain fillers like soybeans, rice, wheat and other products not listed on the label. And some of these additions could put consumers at risk for allergic reactions, study leaders said.

Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, analyzed 44 products from a dozen different companies. The findings were published in the journal, BMC Medicine.

The practice of not having all ingredients listed can lead to health problems for those who take them, study leaders said.

Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago, says it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking supplements to discuss their risks, effectiveness.  Dr. Hampton suggests these five topics to discuss with your physician before taking supplements.

  • The reason for taking the supplements
  • How to take them
  • Their potential risks
  • Their effectiveness
  • Cost or affordability

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.