Who Exactly Takes Nutritional Supplements and Why?

I shot this video in the parking lot of a local store that sells  nutritional supplements.  As you can see, the parking lot is busy,
and customers entering and leaving the store exhibit a wide range of age  and characteristics.

People who take nutritional supplements are sometimes labeled as
“Health Nuts” as if they were part of some weird minority. It might surprise you to learn that most U.S. adults, 68%, use dietary supplements according to an October, 2015 survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

This Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs, found that when it comes to safety, quality and effectiveness of specific dietary supplement categories, Americans have the most confidence in the “Vitamins & Minerals” category (85%).  Results show that the vitamins and minerals category has the highest  usage compared to specialty supplements, herbals & botanicals, and sports nutrition and weight management.  79% of male supplement users and 77% of  female supplement users take vitamins and minerals, followed by vitamin D (32%),  vitamin C (27%) and calcium (24%) which are three nutrients that government reports have  identified as shortfall nutrients.

Of the specialty supplements among supplement users Omega 3/Fatty Acids (19%) are  first followed by fiber (13%), probiotics (12%), Melatonin , Glucosamin and/or Chondoitin, CoQ10, and  digestive enzymes.

The top three sports nutrition and weight management supplements are Protein (14%) , energy drinks and/or gels (8%), hydration drinks and/or gels (5%).  Tied for fourth most popular at 4% are Garcinia Cambogia, Green Coffee, Amino Acids, Recovery Drinks and/or Powders.  Creatine was fifth most popular at 3%.

The top five herbal and botanical supplements among supplement users in order are Green Tea, Cranberry, Garlic and/or Ginseng, (tied) Echinacea, Ginko Biloba, and Tumeric, and fifth Milk Thistle.

Some people take dietary supplements to attain good health while others wish to maintain good health. But they all recognize that our modern
diet is seriously deficient in the nutrition we need.  Survey respondents listed the following reasons for taking supplements: overall health/wellness benefits (51%), to fill nutrient gaps in diet (30%), for more energy (29%), for immune health (27%), for bone health (25% overall but 31% for females), and for heart health (25%).

The CRN survey found similar percentages of overall supplement usage between men and women of younger generations, however noted that there appear to be larger gaps in overall usage between men and women of older generations, those considered “Boomers” or “Elders”.

Other studies and reports by the NIH show that males and females age 51+ and  non-hispanic caucasians have the highest percentage of vitamin-mineral use by  race and ethnicity.  Demographic/Lifestyle Variables Associated with Dietary  supplement usage include BMI less than 25, health status reported as excellent  or very good, greater physical activity, and never or former smokers.

Still other studies have found that dietary supplement consumers are more likely to engage in other healthy habits than people who do not take supplements, such as: trying to eat a balanced diet (87%), visiting their doctor regularly (76% of supplement users vs 65% for non-users), and exercising regularly.

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