Multivitamins are top diet supplement for teens
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study indicates that multivitamins and vitamin C top the list of dietary supplements used by US adolescents, which is "reassuring" given the relative lack of health risks associated with them, researchers say.
But adolescents in the study who used prescription medications were also more likely to use dietary supplements, and doctors and pharmacists should be sure to ask their young patients about supplements to avoid the possibility of harmful interactions, Dr. Paula Gardiner of Boston University Medical School and her colleagues conclude.
Gardiner and her team reviewed data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 11- to 19-year-olds to investigate how common supplement use is among adolescents and factors associated with using vitamins, herbal medicines, minerals and other products.
Twenty-seven percent of the adolescents surveyed said they had used a dietary supplement in the past month, the researchers found. Sixteen percent used multivitamins, while 6 percent said they took vitamin C. Just 4 percent used non-vitamin mineral supplements, including 2 percent who said they used supplements to help them lose weight or enhance sports performance.
Non-Hispanic whites were most likely to be using dietary supplements, while prescription medication users were 37 percent more likely than those not taking prescribed drugs to use dietary supplements. Study participants who said they were in fair or poor health were 41 percent less likely to take supplements than their peers who considered themselves to be in better health. And adolescents who reported having chronic headaches were 25 percent more likely to use dietary supplements.
Obese individuals were 51 percent more likely to be using non-vitamin or mineral herbal supplements, the researchers found, as were older teens.
"To better understand use among culturally diverse groups and those with different clinical conditions, future studies should include a broader range of dietary supplements (such as those used in folk remedies, foods and medicinal teas) and ask about common health conditions," the researchers conclude.
"Additional studies are needed to determine the impact of dietary supplement use on health care use, health status, and quality of life," they add.
SOURCE: BMC - Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published online March 31, 2008.