Six out of 10 women aged 60+ regularly took calcium supplements during 2003-2006 compared with just 28.2 percent in 1988-1994 and 53.8 percent in 1999-2002, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
There were also significant increases in vitamin D supplementation among the same group, with well over half (56 percent) of women aged 60+ taking vitamin D in 2003-2006 compared with 29.7 percent in 1988 –1994 and 49.7 percent in 1999-2002.
Multivitamins still the most popular
Meanwhile, the overall percentage of American adults regularly taking supplements rose from 42% in 1988–1994 to 53% in 2003–2006.
Multivitamins (supplements containing at least three vitamins) remained the most popular products, with usage rising from 30% of adults in 1988–1994 to 39% in 2003–2006, said the NCHS, which collates data from the government-run National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
“This report indicates high use of dietary supplements in the US adult population during the past 20 years, with over 40% of adults using one or more dietary supplements during 1988–1994, and over half of adults using supplements during 2003–2006.”
Council for Responsible Nutrition chief executive Steve Mister said the figures were encouraging, although consumer data suggested that around two-thirds of adults were now regular supplement users, he claimed.
“Sales are up for this category and our own consumer research has demonstrated steady usage by approximately two-thirds of US adults for the past seven years. More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements each year to improve their overall health, fill in nutrient gaps, and because their doctors recommend them.”
The rise in vitamin D supplementation detected in the NCHS statistics was also consistent with industry data, he added: “As strong research continues to build for vitamin D, we too have seen an increase in usage of that supplement.”
The statistics were published as a new survey from AARP – a non-profit organization representing the over 50s - and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health revealed that many people in their 50s on prescription medication failed to inform their doctors that they were also taking dietary supplements.
AARP Vice President Elinor Ginzler said: “Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products may make conventional medicines less effective or lead to potentially dangerous interactions. Health care providers and patients need to start talking together to ensure they get the full benefit of both CAM and their medications.”
More than a third of people surveyed by AARP/NCCAM had used herbal products or dietary supplements in the past year, said NCCAM director Josephine P. Briggs. “Some of these natural products can interact with conventional treatments. An open dialogue about CAM use, particularly herbals and dietary supplements, is vital to ensuring safe and co-ordinated care.”
The AARP/NCCAM survey was conducted by telephone interview in October 2010, with a random sample of 1,013 people aged 50 and over.
Click here to see the full NCHS dietary supplement usage report.
Click here to see the AARP/NCCAM survey.