Background: The link between diet quality and socio-economic status (SES) may extend to the use of vitamin/ mineral supplements. This article examines factors related to Canadians' use of such supplements, with emphasis on associations with household income and education.
Data and methods: The data are from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey-Nutrition (n = 35,107). The prevalence of vitamin/mineral supplement consumption during the previous month was recorded. Supplement use at the national level was estimated by age/sex groups, SES and chronic conditions. Logistic regression was used to determine significant associations between socio-economic factors and vitamin/mineral supplement use. Estimates of usual calcium intake from food and from food plus supplements were obtained using SIDE-IML.
Results: The prevalence of supplement use was significantly higher in females than in males in all age groups 14 or older. Age, being female, high household income and education, and being food-secure were positively associated with supplement use. Supplement use substantially increased the percentage of the population, particularly older adults, meeting the Adequate Intake level for calcium.
Interpretation: The reported use of vitamin/mineral supplements varies by age, sex and SES. The relatively low prevalence of use among Canadians of low SES is similar to findings from American studies. These individuals, already at risk for inadequate intake from food, do not make up the difference with vitamin/ mineral supplements.