As much as $1.7 billion are spent each year on dietary supplements in the United States alone. But although supplement use is popular, patterns of use are not widely understood, especially among children.
Researcher Julie Mae Eichenberger Gilmore of the University of Iowa studied patterns of nutrient supplementation among nearly 400 young white children as part of a larger study of children?s dental health.
Parents were asked to fill out food diaries and questionnaires about their children?s vitamin and mineral supplement intake beginning at six weeks of age up to 2 years. Results of the study included:
Use of supplements by children during their first two years was common behavior, even though the study also showed most of the children were obtaining adequate nutrients from their diet alone.
The prevalence of supplement use increased with age. By the end of 24 months, nearly 32 percent of the children were taking some supplement. Among supplement users, the frequency of use ranged from 40 percent to 60 percent of days reported.
Intakes of some nutrients, such as vitamin E and folate, were not sufficient for a large proportion of young children.