Contribution of Dietary Supplements to Nutritional Adequacy in Various Adult Age Groups

Nutrients. 2017 Dec 6;9(12):1325. doi: 10.3390/nu9121325.


Many Americans have inadequate intakes of several nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 specifically identified vitamins A, C, D and E, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, choline and fiber as "underconsumed nutrients". Based on nationally representative data in 10,698 adults from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), 2009-2012, assessments were made of age-group differences in the impact of dietary supplements on nutrient intake and inadequacies. Compared to food alone, use of any dietary supplement plus food was associated with significantly (p < 0.01) higher intakes of 15-16 of 19 nutrients examined in all age groups; and significantly reduced rates of inadequacy for 10/17, 8/17 and 6/17 nutrients examined among individuals age ≥71, 51-70 and 19-50 years, respectively. Compared to the other age groups, older adults (≥71 years) had lower rates of inadequacy for iron and vitamins A, C, D and E, but higher rates for calcium. An increased prevalence of intakes above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level was seen for 8-9 of 13 nutrients, but were mostly less than 5% of the population. In conclusion, dietary supplement use is associated with increased micronutrient intake, decreased inadequacies, and slight increases in prevalence above the UL, with greater benefits seen among older adults.

Keywords: NHANES; adults; micronutrients; older adults; vitamin/mineral supplement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status*
  • United States
  • Vitamins
  • Young Adult


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamins