Aim: To assess the prevalence of vitamin and mineral supplement use in a free-living elderly population and the contribution of these supplements to usual dietary intake.
Methods: Analyses are based on data obtained from 388 subjects (>or=60 years) participating in the longitudinal study on nutrition and health status in an ageing population in Giessen (GISELA), Germany, in 2002. Nutrient intake from food was assessed by means of a 3-day estimated dietary record. Supplement use was recorded over a period of 3 days using a self-administered questionnaire.
Results: Nearly half of the study population consumed at least 1 supplement within these 3 days. The use of supplements was more prevalent among women than among men (51.5 vs. 33.9%). On average women consumed 2.03+/-1.30 products and men 1.65+/-1.07 products. Magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E were supplemented most often by men, while women supplemented magnesium, vitamin E and calcium most often. Most of the supplemented nutrients did not distinctly increase the average intake of the respective nutrients from the diet in this population. However, supplement use markedly decreased the proportions of elderly subjects with an intake below the current reference values for certain nutrients, particularly for vitamin E.
Conclusion: Results indicate that the intake of supplements is a common behavior in the population under investigation and therefore has to be considered when nutrient intake is evaluated.
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