Supplementation “virtually eliminated” nutritional shortfalls in US study

While fitness is a critical element of military life, many supplements can do as much harm as good. The Operation Supplement Safety campaign is a program designed to educate service members, retirees, dependents, healthcare providers and Department of Defense civilians about dietary supplements and how to choose them wisely. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland)

A study published last week in open access journal Nutrients provide further evidence that frequent use of multivitamins and mineral supplements decreases nutritional deficiencies.

Led by Dr Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of Tufts University in Medford, MA, the study addressed the impact of dietary supplements on levels of nutrient intake and deficiency. “Although up to 50% of American adults use dietary supplements, little information is available on the impact”, Blumberg comments.

Drawing upon data gathered by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) between 2009-2012, the research focused on nationally representative data from 10,698 American adults. Vitamin intakes from food alone were compared against those that had been combined with multivitamin and mineral supplements (MVMS).

Following comprehensive analysis of the statistics, the authors reported that in participants who used MVMS for more than 21 out of 30 days, nutritional inadequacies were “virtually eliminated”, with the exception of vitamin D, calcium and magnesium.

“Although up to 50% of American adults use dietary supplements, little information is available on the impact”

“Perhaps not surprisingly, we found MVMS use was associated with a lower prevalence of inadequacy for 15 of the 17 micronutrients we examined, and contributed significantly to the nutritional wellbeing of the users”, says Blumberg.

The report acknowledges that whilst consumption has increased, supplements are still largely considered a “favourable health and lifestyle choice”, rather than something that resolves nutritional shortfall. However, this study’s findings could challenge that notion, with a direct correlation now having been identified between regular intake of MVMS and optimum micronutrient absorption.

“The consumption of dietary supplements has been shown to increase the overall nutrient intake and decrease the prevalence of nutrient inadequacies”, says Blumberg.

Rosie Greenaway