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College education aids in proper use of dietary supplements among young adults

November 05, 2018

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Young adults who are educated about dietary supplements in college are more likely to use them appropriately, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York.

Binghamton researchers conducted an anonymous online survey of college students comparing those enrolled in the Health and Wellness Studies minor at Binghamton University with those not enrolled in the minor. The survey included questions on perception of dietary supplements, use and knowledge. The survey's main purpose was to investigate whether an education on dietary supplements is effective amongst college students. Young adults are a target for certain dietary supplements through several social media platforms, and they're more likely to be influenced by such advertisements. Many studies on dietary supplement use suggested an education at the college level is needed, but no follow-up studies were performed.

Analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that college students with proper education on dietary supplements exhibit a different but responsible pattern of use from those without the education. This is significant, as misuse of dietary supplements has been linked to liver and kidney injuries.

"These findings suggest that college education on dietary supplements, during a stage when young adults establish life-long habits, may potentially reduce risk of abuse," said Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University.

"Are these supplements really doing the work?" Begdache said. "There's no FDA oversight. Anything could be in these supplements, things that could potentially be harmful."

The researchers are currently looking at over-the-counter weight loss pill use amongst college students. The interest is that these supplements are high in caffeine, which may increase stress in young adults.
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Contributing to this research were Hamed Kianmehr, a PhD student in system sciences and industrial engineering, and Cassandra V. Heaney, a former graduate student in integrative neuroscience, both at Binghamton University.

The study, "College Education on Dietary Supplements May Promote Responsible Use In Young Adults," was published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

Binghamton University

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