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Why US children use dietary supplements
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  • Description:
    Background:

    Dietary supplements are used by one-third of children. We examined motivations for supplement use in children, the types of products used by motivations, and the role of physicians and health care practitioners in guiding choices about supplements.

    Methods:

    We examined motivations for dietary supplement use reported for children (from birth to 19 y of age; n = 8,245) using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2010.

    Results:

    Dietary supplements were used by 31% of children; many different reasons were given as follows: to “improve overall health” (41%), to “maintain health” (37%), for “supplementing the diet” (23%), to “prevent health problems” (20%), and to “boost immunity” (14%). Most children (~90%) who use dietary supplements use a multivitamin–mineral or multivitamin product. Supplement users tend to be non-Hispanic white, have higher family incomes, report more physical activity, and have health insurance. Only a small group of supplements used by children (15%) were based on the recommendation of a physician or other health care provider.

    Conclusion:

    Most supplements used by children are not under the recommendation of a health care provider. The most common reasons for use of supplements in children are for health promotion, yet little scientific data support this notion in nutrient-replete children.

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