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Long Term Dietary Supplementation Improves General Health

Diet and nutrition play important roles in the maintenance of health and prevention of disease.  Dietary supplements represent an important source of nutrition since they are widely used and often contain one or more nutrients.  However, little is known about individuals who routinely consume multiple dietary supplements.  A recent US study described the dietary supplement usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users, and where possible made comparisons to non-users and single multivitamin/mineral supplement users.

Using a cross-sectional study design, information was obtained by online questionnaires and physical examination (fasting blood, blood pressure, body weight) from a sample of long-term (>=20 years) users of multiple dietary supplements (Multiple Supp users, n=278).  Data for non-users (No Supp users, n = 602) and multivitamin/mineral supplement users (Single Supp users, n = 176) were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2002 and NHANES III 1988–1994.

Dietary supplements consumed on a daily basis by more than 50% of Multiple Supp users included multivitamin/mineral, B-complex, vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E, calcium with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, coenzyme Q10 with resveratrol, glucosamine, and herbal immune supplement.  The majority of women also consumed gamma linolenic acid and a probiotic supplement, whereas men also consumed zinc, garlic, saw palmetto, and a soy protein supplement.

Serum nutrient concentrations generally increased with increasing dietary supplement use.  After adjustment for age, gender, income, education and body mass index, greater degree of supplement use was associated with more favorable concentrations of serum homocysteine, C-reactive protein, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as lower risk of prevalent elevated blood pressure and diabetes.

The study concluded that the sample group of long-term multiple dietary supplement users consumed a broad array of vitamin/mineral, herbal, and condition-specific dietary supplements on a daily basis.  They were more likely to have optimal concentrations of chronic disease-related biomarkers, and less likely to have suboptimal blood nutrient concentrations, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes compared to non-users and single multivitamin/mineral supplement users.  The study author further suggested that more research on usage patterns of dietary supplements and the potential health effects of dietary supplements is needed.

Source: Nutrition Journal 2007; 1186/1475-2891-6-30

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