Comparison of 4 Methods to Assess the Prevalence of Use and Estimates of Nutrient Intakes from Dietary Supplements among US Adults

J Nutr. 2020 Apr 1;150(4):884-893. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz306.


Background: Accurate and reliable methods to assess prevalence of use of and nutrient intakes from dietary supplements (DSs) are critical for research, clinical practice, and public health monitoring. NHANES has been the primary source of DS usage patterns using an in-home inventory with a frequency-based DS and Prescription Medicine Questionnaire (DSMQ), but little is known regarding DS information obtained from 24-h dietary recalls (24HRs).

Methods: The objectives of this analysis were to compare results from 4 different methods for measuring DS use constructed from two data collection instruments (i.e., DSMQ and 24HR) and to determine the most comprehensive method for measuring the prevalence of use and estimating nutrient intakes from DS for selected nutrients. NHANES 2011-2014 data from US adults (aged ≥19 y; n = 11,451) were used to examine the 4 combinations of methods constructed for measuring the prevalence of use of and amount of selected nutrients from DSs (i.e., riboflavin, vitamin D, folate, magnesium, calcium): 1) DSMQ, 2) 24HR day 1, 3) two 24HRs (i.e., mean), and 4) DSMQ or at least one 24HR.

Results: Half of US adults reported DS use on the DSMQ (52%) and on two 24HRs (mean of 49%), as compared with a lower prevalence of DS use when using a single 24HR (43%) and a higher (57%) prevalence when combining the DSMQ with at least one 24HR. Mean nutrient intake estimates were highest using 24HR day 1. Mean supplemental calcium from the DSMQ or at least one 24HR was 372 mg/d, but 464 mg/d on the 24HR only. For vitamin D, the estimated intakes per consumption day were higher on the DSMQ (46 μg) and the DSMQ or at least one 24HR (44 μg) than those on the 24HR day 1 (32 μg) or the mean 24HR (31 μg). Fewer products were also classed as a default or reasonable match on the DSMQ than on the 24HR.

Conclusions: A higher prevalence of use of DSs is obtained using frequency-based methods, whereas higher amounts of nutrients are reported from a 24HR. The home inventory results in greater accuracy for products reported. Collectively, these findings suggest that combining the DSMQ with at least one 24HR (i.e., DSMQ or at least one 24HR) is the most comprehensive method for assessing the prevalence of and estimating usual intake from DSs in US adults.This trial was registered at as NCT03400436.

Keywords: NHANES; dietary recall; dietary supplement; measurement error; methodology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minerals / administration & dosage*
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Prevalence
  • United States
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Associated data