CDC Finds Widespread Dietary Supplement Use Among Minors

More than one-third of all children and teens in the United States take dietary supplements, according to the findings of a new study.

In a recent issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers evaluated data from the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), noting that more adolescents are using multiple types of supplements than were seen in prior surveys.

The survey was compared to data conducted in 2009 to 2010, finding that 34% of U.S. children and teens take at least one dietary supplement, which is largely unchanged from the prior data. However, use varies widely by demographics and the use of multiple dietary supplements has increased.

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In 2009-2010, roughly 4% of teens and children used more than two supplements within the past 30 days. During the 2017-2018 survey, use of two or more dietary supplements increased to 7% of teens and children.

Researchers recommend nutritional needs typically be met through food consumption. Only a few dietary supplements are specifically recommended for use among children and teens and under certain conditions. Despite those recommendations, use of dietary supplements is common among minors.

Dietary supplements are manufactured pills, powders and liquids used to supplement the diet with various vitamins, nutrients, minerals, or other synthetic products with the intention of “boosting” a person’s health in some way. Dietary supplements can range from simple daily vitamins to supplements interned to aid with health conditions.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, dietary supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA and do not need to be approved before being sold on the U.S. market. Thus, some supplements which are harmful may make it to retail outlets and be consumed by the general population, leading to side effects.

A recent study of dietary supplement indicated more than 776 over-the-counter supplements contained harmful or active drug ingredients.

This latest CDC study indicates multivitamin mineral products were used by 24% of children and teens. These products, including daily multivitamins and minerals like calcium or iron, are the most commonly used dietary supplement products among teens and children.

“Because dietary supplement use is common, surveillance of dietary supplement use, combined with nutrient intake from diet, will remain an important component of monitoring nutritional intake in children and adolescents to inform clinical practice and dietary recommendations,” wrote study authors.


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