Almost one-third of US children regularly take dietary supplements

October 01, 2007

More than 30 percent of American children age 18 and younger take some form of dietary supplement, most often multivitamins and multiminerals, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Most U.S. adults--including 57 percent of women and 47 percent of men--take dietary supplements, according to background information in the article. Professional organizations emphasize diet as the best source of nutrients for children; however, physicians may recommend supplements for certain children at risk of deficiency.

Mary Frances Picciano, Ph.D., of the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from the 1999 to 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This nationally representative survey included 10,136 children age 18 or younger. Participants were given medical examinations and families were interviewed, usually at home.

The researchers found that: "In conclusion, dietary supplements provide a consistent daily source of nutrients for nearly one-third of U.S. children, yet individual and national-level estimates of nutrient intake rarely account for them," the authors write. "Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide recommended nutrient intakes and advice on food choices that promote health and reduce the risk of disease. To truly assess the nutrient status and estimate the potential health risks of U.S. children, we must include nutrient intakes from dietary supplements as well as from food."
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(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(10):978-985. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor's Note: This study was funded in full by the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health via a contract with RTI International. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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