Almost one-third of U.S. children take some form of dietary supplement, most often multivitamins and multiminerals, according to a study conducted in part by researchers at RTI International and the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.
The study, published in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, analyzed data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included more than 10,000 children from birth to 18 years of age.
The researchers found that children in higher-income families; children who spent less time watching television, playing video games, or on the computer; and children in smoke-free households were more likely to use supplements.
"Dietary supplements are an important source of nutrition for American children, but national estimates of nutrition intake rarely account for them," said Samara Joy Nielsen, Ph.D., a nutrition epidemiologist at RTI and the paper's co-author. "To accurately assess children's health and health risks, we need to include children's intake of both dietary supplements and food when examining overall nutrient intakes."
The study also showed that almost half of 4- to 8-year-olds take dietary supplements, but only slightly higher than 25 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds take dietary supplements.
In addition to RTI and the Office of Dietary Supplements, the research team included authors from the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Abt Associates.