Perceptions and Patterns of Dietary Supplements' Use during COVID-19 among Undergraduate Female Students in Saudi Arabia

Nutrients. 2022 Sep 9;14(18):3728. doi: 10.3390/nu14183728.

Abstract

(1) Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of Dietary Supplements (DSs) has increased for health promotion purposes. Few data records were found on the safe use of DSs among university students in Saudi Arabia, during COVID-19. This study aimed to assess the perceptions and patterns of DSs during COVID-19 among students at a selected female university. (2) Methods: A descriptive cross-section design was used. A convenient sample of undergraduate students (n = 651) were recruited via email, to fill in an online validated questionnaire: The nutrition and intake of DSs during COVID-19. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. (3) Results: Among the 509 students who did not have chronic diseases, 85% of them had taken DSs. About 35.5% of the students had not changed their dietary habits since the beginning of COVID-19, but 78.6% thought that they needed to improve their immunity by taking DSs. Half of the students 51.2% believed that healthy habits may reduce the chance of being infected with COVID-19. The most used DSs were vitamin C (84.3%), followed by honey (65.3%), and vitamin D (47.7%). At the top of students' references for DSs was personal judgment or previous knowledge of the benefits (27.3%). (4) Conclusion: The usage and patterns of DSs were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking DSs without a doctor's prescription may lead to several complications. DSs users should be educated effectively about the proper use of DSs as an external supplementation.

Keywords: COVID-19; dietary supplements; knowledge; multivitamin; pattern; students; university.

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Students
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamins

Substances

  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Ascorbic Acid