Adults Who Take Supplements More Likely to Meet Dietary Guidelines


Planning and consuming a diet that meets all of the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans is a challenge for most people.

Planning and consuming a diet that meets all of the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans is a challenge for most people. Study after study documents that most Americans don't follow dietary recommendations, struggle to create balanced diets, and subsequently have an inadequate intake of essential nutrients. The nutrients of greatest concern include vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber.

A team of researchers from prestigious institutions across the United States have published a study addressing inadequate nutrient intake. In particular, they focused on dietary supplements' contribution to nutritional adequacy in adults. Published in the journal Nutrients, this study indicates that dietary supplementation is linked to increased micronutrient intake, decreased dietary inadequacies, and benefit—especially among older adults.

The researchers used information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They looked at almost 11,000 adults aged 19 years or older, and excluded pregnant or lactating females. They examined micronutrient intake from food alone and from food plus dietary supplements.

In all age groups, more than 25% of study participants consumed less than the recommended amounts of calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. Participants who took dietary supplements, however, were more likely to have increased nutrient intake and less inadequacy. A very small proportion of participants who took supplements exceeded recommended intake.

Older adults were at greatest risk for low micronutrient intake and prevalence of inadequacy from food alone. The researchers also found that older adults tended to decrease their food consumption with time, which may account for some of the nutrient inadequacy. Adults older than 71 years of age were also most likely to have inadequate fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain intakes.

Younger adults regardless of their supplement intake were more likely to have inadequate intakes of vitamins A, C, D, and E than older adults.

Dietary supplements were associated with better nutrient intake in all age groups.


Blumberg JB, Frei B, Fulgoni VL, Weaver CM, Zeisel SH. Contribution of Dietary Supplements to Nutritional Adequacy in Various Adult Age Groups. Nutrients. 2017;9(12). pii: E1325. doi: 10.3390/nu9121325.

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