Dietary Supplement Use among Infants and Toddlers Aged <24 Months in the United States, NHANES 2007-2014

J Nutr. 2019 Feb 1;149(2):314-322. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy269.


Background: Limited nationally representative data are available on dietary supplement (DS) use and resulting nutrient exposures among infants and toddlers.

Objective: This study evaluated DS use among US infants and toddlers to characterize DS use, estimate nutrient intake from DSs, and assess trends in DS use over time.

Methods: Using nationally representative data from NHANES (2007-2014) and trends over time (1999-2014), we estimated prevalence of DS use and types of products used for US infants and toddlers aged <2 y (n = 2823). We estimated median daily intakes of vitamins and minerals consumed via DSs for all participants aged <2 y, by age groups (0-11.9 mo and 12.0-23.9 mo), and by feeding practices for infants 0-5.9 mo.

Results: Overall, 18.2% (95% CI: 16.2%, 20.3%) of infants and toddlers used ≥1 DS in the past 30 d. Use was lower among infants (0-5.9 mo: 14.6%; 95% CI: 11.5%, 18.1%; 6-11.9 mo: 11.6%; 95% CI: 8.8%, 15.0%) than among toddlers (12-23.9 mo: 23.3%; 95% CI: 20.4%, 26.3%). The most commonly reported DSs were vitamin D and multivitamin infant drops for those <12 mo, and chewable multivitamin products for toddlers (12-23.9 mo). The nutrients most frequently consumed from DSs were vitamins D, A, C, and E for those <2 y; for infants <6 mo, a higher percentage of those fed breast milk than those fed formula consumed these nutrients via DSs. DS use remained steady for infants (6-11.9 mo) and toddlers from 1999-2002 to 2011-2014, but increased from 7% to 20% for infants aged 0-5.9 mo.

Conclusions: One in 5 infants and toddlers aged <2 y use ≥1 DS. Future studies should examine total nutrient intake from foods, beverages, and DSs to evaluate nutrient adequacy overall and by nutrient source.

Keywords: NHANES; breast milk; dietary supplements; infant formula; infants; toddlers; vitamin D; vitamins.

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • United States