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Consumers increase vitamin D, supplement use during pandemic

Getty Images Consumers increase vitamin D, supplement use during pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans turned to dietary supplements to support their health and immunity. Limited survey results reveal details.

Not surprisingly, consumption of vitamin D has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to two recent surveys of Americans.

Overall, use of supplements increased 7 percentage points: 80% of Americans reported using supplements, the most in the 20-year history of the survey, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition's 2021 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements.

Among all supplement users, 50% said they changed their supplement routine since the COVID-19 pandemic started; of those, 55% said that change included adding new supplements to their routine, according to CRN.

The five most popular supplements for 2021 were the same as the top five in 2020: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, B vitamins and omega-3s, according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s. GOED surveyed 1,000 American supplement users in June.

CRN found that consumption of vitamin D increased 10 percentage points and consumption of vitamin C increased 5 percentage points since 2020.

GOED surveyors asked respondents, "What vitamins, herbals or other dietary supplements do you currently take?" Among those supplement users, 30.2% said they consume vitamin D supplements, up from 28.1% in 2020. Use of omega-3 supplements declined, however, to 15.7% from 17.6% in 2020. When vitamin D and omega-3 answers together are compared, the 2021 results are 0.2 percentage points higher than the 2020 results, which may not be a significant difference.

"Supplement usage among Americans has steadily increased in the more than twenty years CRN has conducted the survey," Brian Wommack, CRN’s senior vice president of communications, said in a press release. "With 80% of Americans now using supplements, these products are now mainstream and broadly accepted by the American public. Just as important, 79% of Americans believe the dietary supplement industry is trustworthy, a jump of 5 percentage points from 2020."

In addition to the survey results, GOED shared some demographic information about omega-3 supplement users:

  • Gender—43% are women and 57% are men.
  • Age—7% are 66 years or older; 27% are age 56-65, inclusive; 17% are age 46-55, inclusive; 25% are age 36-45; 20% are age 26-35; and 4% are age 18-25.
  • Ethnicity—73% are white or Caucasian; 14% are Asian; 9% are of African origin; 1% are Indigenous; and 2% are of multiple ethnicities or responded "other."
  • Income—15% earn $150,000 or more per year; 23% earn $100,000-$149,999; 21% earn $70,000-$99,999; 20% earn $45,000-$69,999; 13% earn $30,000-$44,999; and 8% earn $30,000 or less.

CRN's online survey, conducted by Ipsos in August, questioned 3,089 adults in the United States including 2,421 who consume dietary supplements seasonally, occasionally or regularly. CRN released limited results in October.

The CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements covers the major categories of dietary supplements; reasons consumers take supplements; purchasing factors; preferred delivery forms; e-commerce habit; and more.

GOED partnered with Trust Transparency Center to survey 1,000 U.S. consumers—613 of whom consumed omega-3 supplements—in June.

GOED's report includes how much consumers spend on omega-3 supplements; consumers' health concerns; product attributes that affect purchasing decisions; and the importance of transparency and sustainability.

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