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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Release of Dietary Supplement Database Improves Access to Supplement Information

By Julia Bird

Looking for information on dietary supplements sold in the USA? In the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Kuehn reports on the recent release of a dietary supplement database. It is a joint project between the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the US Library of Medicine. The database in its current form allows searches of dietary supplement labels for a large selection of dietary supplements on the market by product name, ingredient, and other aspects of the product. At the moment, there appear to be around 390 products containing around 975 separate ingredients from around 90  different producers, however the database will be expanded going forward. The ODS hopes that it will become a resource for both researchers and patients.

Dietary supplement use is rather high in the USA. Here are some facts taken from various recent articles on dietary  supplement use:

* Rock reports that 52% of adults had taken a supplement in the past month, and 35% take supplements regularly.

* The most commonly consumed dietary supplement is the multivitamin-multimineral supplement, which is taken every day according to 2003-2006 data from Bailey and co-workers. Older people are more likely to use them than younger people.

* Why do people use dietary supplements? Bailey et al. found that 45% of adults used supplements to improve their health and 33% to maintain their health. Women were most likely to use supplements for bone health, while men tended to focus on heart health.

* Fulgoni and associates report that dietary supplements made a significant impact on nutrient adequacy in the US population, particularly for vitamins A, C, D, E, calcium and magnesium.

* Around three quarters of pregnant women reported taking a dietary supplement during the previous 30 days, although less than one quarter of those contained iodine, a nutrient that is very important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, according to Gahche

* Supplement users have a better nutrient intake than supplement non-users, from both Bailey and colleagues and a group led by Murphy.

* Wu, Wang and Kennedy report that children and adolescents have a lower rate of dietary supplement usage than older adults. In children aged over 8, dietary supplements help children to meet nutrient requirements, from research by Bailey et al.

* Supplement use increases in very young children as they age: 8% of infants aged 4 to 5 months take a supplement compared to 19% in children aged 6 to 11 months and 31% of toddlers aged to 24 months, found by Briefel and co-workers using data from the Feeding Infants and Toddler Study.

If you are interested in dietary supplement usage, take a look around at the database!

Main reference: Kuehn BM. Database Allows Researchers, Patients to Scrutinize Supplements. JAMA. 2013;310(4):361. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.8795.