American adults are using more dietary supplements than the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) previously indicated. That is the conclusion of a review of 5 consecutive years of surveys carried out by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) between 2007 and 2011 and completed online by about 2,000 U.S. adults annually (J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(2):176-182).

According to Annette Dickinson, PhD, lead author of the review, the NHANES reports only inquired about supplement use within the previous 30 days. The current review included “regular, occasional, and seasonal use throughout the year, which more realistically captures the full scope of dietary supplement utilization.”

The percentage of people who used supplements ranged from 64% to 69%. 
When regular users were asked if they took a variety of supplements or a multivitamin alone, the percentage who said they used a variety rose over the 5-year period from 28% to 36%, while the percentage who took a multivitamin only decreased from 24% to 17%.

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The main reasons given for using dietary supplements were “for overall health and wellness” and “to fill nutrient gaps in the diet.”

The surveys also found that people using dietary supplements are more likely than nonusers to partake in such healthy behaviors as exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and having regular medical checkups.