The vast majority of consumers recognize that multivitamins, calcium and/or vitamin D supplements can help fill nutrient gaps but should not be viewed as replacements for a healthy diet, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
Conclusions from the survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults were published in Nutrition Journal1 in a peer-reviewed article titled, “Consumer attitudes about the role of multivitamins and other dietary supplements: report of a survey,” authored by CRN consultant Annette Dickinson, Ph.D.; Douglas (Duffy) MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN; and Andrea Wong, Ph.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN.
"Our data suggest that policy makers and health professionals can recommend dietary supplements to help improve nutrient intakes without being concerned that this will cause consumers to discount the importance of eating a healthy diet,” Dr. Dickinson noted.
The survey asked 2,159 U.S. adults key questions to measure consumer attitudes about the role of multivitamins, calcium and/or vitamin D supplements, in improving dietary intakes.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents (88 percent) agreed that calcium and vitamin D supplements can help support bone health when dietary intake is not sufficient and 87 percent reported that multivitamin and mineral supplements can help meet nutrient needs when people don’t get enough from food alone. Responses indicated consumers hold balanced perspectives about the role supplementation plays in overall health, with 80 percent in agreement that multivitamins should not replace healthy eating or lifestyle habits and 81 percent concluding that multivitamins should be considered as just one part of a healthy diet. The importance of having an open dialogue with doctors was also recognized, with 82 percent in agreement that people considering taking a high dose, single nutrient supplement should talk with their physician.
In the Nutrition Journal article, the authors cited U.S. government statistics indicating that a considerable percentage of U.S. adults fall short of recommended intakes for several nutrients, such as vitamins C, D and E. At the same time, Dr. Dickinson noted, “Surveys find that dietary supplement users tend to have better diets and adopt other healthy habits—suggesting that they view supplements as just one strategy in an array of health habits to help ensure wellness.” Further, CRN noted in the report that evidence demonstrates that incidence of over-nutrification with micronutrients is low.
Co-author Dr. MacKay advises the importance of CRN conducting this type of consumer research, noting, “As Americans continue to seek ways to stay healthy, dietary supplements play an important role, therefore, it’s important for our industry, as well as those in scientific, academic, health care practitioner and policy circles, to understand how consumers view that role.”
The survey was designed and analyzed by FoodMinds, and was fielded in October 2014 using Toluna’s On-line Omnibus. The weighted sample of 2,159 respondents is representative of U.S. adults.