Contribution of Dietary Supplements to Nutritional Adequacy by Socioeconomic Subgroups in Adults of the United States

Nutrients. 2017 Dec 22;10(1):4. doi: 10.3390/nu10010004.


Many Americans have inadequate intakes of several nutrients, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 identified vitamins A, C, D, and E, in addition to calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, choline, and fiber as "underconsumed nutrients". Based on nationally representative data on 10,698 adults from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), 2009-2012, assessments were made of socioeconomic differences, based on the Poverty Income Ratio (PIR), in terms of the association of dietary supplement use on nutrient intake and nutrient inadequacies. Compared to food alone, the 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 socioeconomic groups; and significantly reduced rates of inadequacy for 10/17 nutrients in the subgroup PIR > 1.85 (not poor), but only 4-5/17 nutrients (calcium and vitamins A, C, D, E) for the poor and nearly poor subgroups (PIR < 1.35 and PIR 1.35 to ≤1.85, respectively). An increased prevalence of intakes above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) was seen for 3-9/13 nutrients, but all were less than 5% in the PIR subgroups. In conclusion, dietary supplement use was associated with an increased micronutrient intake, decreased inadequacies, and a slight increase in the prevalence of intakes above the UL, with greater benefits seen in the PIR > 1.85 subgroup.

Keywords: NHANES; Poverty Income Ratio (PIR); micronutrients; vitamin/mineral supplement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Deficiency Diseases / diagnosis
  • Deficiency Diseases / epidemiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Micronutrients