Posted September 1, 2017: by Bill Sardi

    The most recent survey of dietary supplement use in the U.S. has just been published and it’s a shocker.

    Almost a third (29%) of surveyed individuals that take dietary supplements use 4 or more of them on a regular basis.

    While a considerable portion of postmenopausal women take calcium supplements about half as many take a mineral balancing magnesium supplement while a far greater number take vitamin D pills that help prevent calcifications that can possibly be induced by supplemental calcium.

    Use of dietary suplements

    Age group Calcium Calcium + Vitamin D Magnesium
    60-69 11.5% 18.1% 5.2%
    70-79 12.2% 20.7% 7.3%
    80+ 15.9% 19.5% 3.8%

    In an era of explosive revelations that the balance of gut bacteria influences overall health and digestion and is correlated with various diseases (including mental disorders), the use of probiotics remains surprisingly low, with about 3.0% of Americans taking a probiotic supplement.  The knowledge involving gut bacteria is expanding to prebiotics, largely herbal supplements (particularly polyphenols like resveratrol) that influence a broader array of gut bacteria than standard probiotic Bifidus and Acidophilus supplements.

    Among adults who consume 2 or more alcoholic beverages a day, they were 40% less likely consume B-complex vitamins to replace vitamin B1 (thiamin) that alcohol depletes.  About half of the subjects surveyed (1556 of 3236 – 48%) drank alcoholic beverages regularly.  Alcohol depletes magnesium.  Only 3.8% to 5.2% of adults in the survey use magnesium supplements.

    While 86% of those surveyed reported they use prescription drugs, many which deplete essential nutrients, prescription drug users were generally less likely to use dietary supplements that might make up for drug-induced nutrient deficiencies.

    Overall more than 79% of adult surveyed reported daily use of dietary supplements regardless of age.  Multivitamins were the most commonly reported dietary supplement (29%) followed by vitamin D (26%), omega-3 fatty acids (22%) and B complex (16%).

    Long-term (greater than 10-year use) of any dietary supplement was notable for vitamin C (63%), multivitamins (48%), vitamin B12 (25%) and omega-3 oils (23%).  While 26% of individuals surveyed supplemented their diet with vitamin D, the upsurge in vitamin D usage took place in recent years, so long-term use is not common yet.

    According to the US Department of Agriculture, nutritional deficiencies are rampant in over-fed/undernourished America.  Below is a comparison of the estimated percentage of American adults whose nutrient intake falls below recommended intake levels and the percentage who take dietary supplements to make up for that shortage.

    Nutrient % Insufficient Nutrient Intake (US Dept. Agriculture) % That Take Dietary Supplements (Journal Nutrition}
    Vitamin E 86.4% 5.0%
    Folic acid (B9) 40.3% 2.7%
    Magnesium 57.0% 4.2%
    Potassium* 92.4% 1.7%
    Vitamin C 42.0% 10.5%
    Vitamin B12 20.3% 8.2%

    US Food & Drug Administration limits potassium to 99 mg in a daily-dose dietary supplement over concern patients taking diuretics will wash out their potassium and suffer dire consequences.

    Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging drafted the report but failed to note the lower dietary supplement use by those most in need of supplementation: prescription drugs users and alcohol imbibers whose medicines and beverages often deplete essential nutrients; and overlooked that most adults who take calcium supplements fail to balance them with magnesium.  ©2017 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health Inc.

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