CRN survey: 80% of Americans are now using dietary supplements

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Suwaree Tangbovornpichet / Getty Images
© Suwaree Tangbovornpichet / Getty Images

Related tags Dietary supplements Vitamin d Zinc Probiotics immune support hair skin and nails Collagen

Americans have turned to dietary supplements in record numbers over the past two years, with the numbers of users hitting new highs, and confidence in the effectiveness, safety and quality remaining impressively high, according to CRN’s 2021 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements.

The survey, which the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has run annually since 2000, showed that 80% of Americans are now using dietary supplements, an increase of 7% from 2020. Also up is the number of Americans viewing the dietary supplements industry as trustworthy: 79% in 2021, compared to 74% in 2020.

The top five reasons for using the products have not changed from year-to-year, with overall health and wellness still number one, followed by immune health (36%; up 4% from 2020), energy (28%; an increase of 7% year-on-year), filling nutrient gaps (27%), and hair skin & nails (26%).

Ingredients/ formulations

“With 80% of Americans now using supplements, these products are now mainstream and broadly accepted by the American public. Just as important, 79% of Americans believe the dietary supplement industry is trustworthy, a jump of 5 percentage points from 2020,” said Brian Wommack, CRN’s senior vice president of communications.”

Unsurprisingly, there were significant increases in the use of vitamin D (52% in 2021 vs 42% in 2020), zinc (22% vs. 15%), and vitamin C (40% vs. 35%).

Multivitamins remain the most used supplements, at 75% of all supplement users.

Probiotics also experienced an increase, up 3% year-on-year and now taken by 14% of dietary supplement users. The main reasons cited for taking these products were: GI support (65%); general health (53%); and immune support (48%).

Additional data presented by Jake Bernstein from ClearCut Analytics at the CRN’s Annual Conference indicated that probiotics are now the number one selling supplement type on Amazon, with 43% year-on-year growth. The fastest growing category on Amazon was collagen, with 62% growth between 2020 and 2021.

Branded ingredients

For the first time ever, CRN also asked questions to qualify and quantify consumer attitudes around branded ingredients, with 57% of supplement users agreeing that branded ingredients work better, and 63% saying they are willing to pay more for branded ingredients.

In addition, 70% of users said they were more confident in the supplements made with branded ingredients, while  63% of respondents said that branded ingredients can cost more because they are more effective and are of higher quality.

The move online

The CRN data also assessed where supplement users are purchasing the products online, and found that 80% of users have purchased from Amazon in past 12 months. This number was in-line with the data presented by ClearCut’s Bernstein, who told attendees that many consumers continue to purchase supplements online, even post-store openings.

Bernstein, citing NBJ data, noted that 16.7% of supplement purchases were made online in 2020, which was a 64% increase from 2019. The online category is estimated to account for 25% of supplement sales by 2024, he added.


2021 CRN-survey-80percent-use
Image courtesy of CRN

* The 2021 survey was fielded for CRN by Ipsos August 20–26, 2021. The survey included a national sample of 3,089 adults aged 18 and older living in the United States, including 2,421 adults who consume dietary supplements seasonally, occasionally, or regularly.

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