Dietary supplement use among U.S. adults has increased since NHANES III (1988-1994)

NCHS Data Brief. 2011 Apr;(61):1-8.


Use of dietary supplements is common among the U.S. adult population. Over 40% used supplements in 1988-1994, and over one-half in 2003-2006. Multivitamins/multiminerals are the most commonly used dietary supplements, with approximately 40% of men and women reporting use during 2003-2006. Use of supplemental calcium increased from 28% during 1988-1994 to 61% during 2003-2006 among women aged 60 and over. Use of supplements containing folic acid among women aged 20-39 did not increase since 1988-1994. In 2003-2006, 34% of women aged 20-39 used a dietary supplement containing folic acid. Use of dietary supplements containing vitamin D increased from 1988-1994 through 1999-2002 for men and women in most age groups. Dietary supplements can contain nutrients in amounts as high as or higher than the Institute of Medicine's Recommended Dietary Reference Intakes, therefore contributing substantially to total nutrient intake. Dietary supplements are widely available to U.S. consumers, and monitoring their use over time is an important component of the National Nutrition Monitoring System. Failure to include these nutrients when assessing the adequacy of diets and nutrition in the U.S. population may lead to inaccurate and misleading results. This report provides estimates of dietary supplement use for specific population groups over time. In addition to overall use of dietary supplements, this report focuses on estimates for specific nutrients consumed through dietary supplement use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements / classification
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Vitamins
  • Folic Acid
  • Calcium