Objective: This review summarizes the current and previous data on dietary supplement (DS) use collected from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), describes the NHANES dietary supplement database used to compute nutrient intakes from DSs, discussed recent developments and future direction, and describes many examples to demonstrate the utility of these data in informing nutrition research and policy.
Background and history: Since 1971, NHANES, has been collecting information on the use of DSs from participants. These data are critical to national nutrition surveillance and have been used to characterize usage patterns, examine trends over time, assess the percentage of the population meeting or exceeding nutrient recommendations, and to help elucidate the sources contributing nutrients to the diet of the US population.
Rationale: Over half of adults and about one-third of children in the United States use at least one dietary supplement in the past 30 days. Dietary supplements contribute to the dietary intake of nutrients and bioactive compounds in the US and therefore need to be assessed when monitoring nutritional status of the population and when studying diet-health associations.
Recent developments: With the recent development and availability of the Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD), a comprehensive DS database that will eventually contain labels for all products marketed in the US, NHANES DS data will be more easily linked to product information to estimate nutrient intake from DS.
Future directions: Over time, NHANES has both expanded and improved collection methods. The continued understanding of sources of error in collection methods will continue to be explored and is critical to improved accuracy.
Conclusions: NHANES provides a rich source of nationally representative data on the usage of dietary supplements in the US.
Keywords: NHANES; dietary supplements; epidemiology; monitoring; nutrition databases; nutritional surveillance; supplement labels.