Recent reports show that more than half of Americans take a dietary supplement every day, but how does that compare with 20 years ago?

The Center for Disease Control compared recent figures with data collected between 1988 and 1994. At that time 40% of adults took one or more supplements compared to over half today, so consumption of health supplements is generally on the increase.

Some specific supplements are now far more widely used, presumably due to conclusive study results and better information being more readily available. Calcium consumption shot up from 28.2% in the past to 61% of people in more recent studies – a 216% increase.

More people also take vitamin D nowadays with 56% of women over the age of 60 now taking it. As it is an essential vitamin for healthy bones and cell regeneration, this shows that many women are taking health education seriously and adding this to their daily regimen.

Folic acid is recommended for pregnant women by gynecologists and doctors to avoid spina bifida and other birth defects. Consumption has remained fairly stable, rising from 32% to 34% of the adults surveyed.

Who Takes Supplements?
The studies showed that women are more likely than men to take daily supplements. Figures in research conducted by National Institutes of Health, the Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Maryland reported that 44% of males and 53% of females use supplements, which was an increase on earlier surveys. For those over the age of 70, the figure was 70%.

Multivitamins are the most common daily supplement taken by one third of the US population. Herbs and herbal remedies are used by 20% of the population and are more commonly used by the older generation.

There was an interesting correlation between ethnicity and supplement intake. Non-Hispanic whites were the most likely to take supplements, but this declined from 56% to 48% in those considered medically obese. Hispanics and non-whites were less likely to take any form of dietary supplement, along with those who did not have education to high school diploma level. It seems that education, ethnic background and weight all influence whether or not supplements are taken.

Why do People Take Supplements?
Most people have no idea how much calcium, vitamins or folate acid their diet is providing them with. The only way to be sure of getting a balance of essential vitamins and minerals is by taking a measured amount each day. Multivitamins are perfect addition to your daily supplement program!

As we learn more about the importance of supplements and the part they can play in the prevention of serious diseases and ailments, it makes good economic sense to take some essential supplements each day. Prevention is always better than cure, and supplements are, after all, far cheaper than a visit to the doctor and monthly prescriptions.