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Nonvitamin, nonmineral supplement use over a 12-month period by adult members of a large health maintenance organization

OBJECTIVE: National survey data show an increase in the prevalence of nonvitamin, nonmineral (NVNM) supplement use among adults over the past 10 years. Concern over this trend is based in part on reports of potential drug-supplement interactions. The type and prevalence of supplement use by demographic and behavior characteristics were examined among members of a large group model health plan, including those with selected health conditions. DESIGN: Data on the use of herbal medicines and dietary supplements among survey respondents were analyzed. Questions employed a checklist for six specific NVNM supplements with optional write-ins. SUBJECTS/SETTING: A stratified random sample of 15,985 adult members of a large group model health maintenance organization in northern California, who were respondents to a 1999 general health survey. STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Analyses were conducted with poststratification weighted data to reflect the actual age, gender, and geographic distribution of the adult membership from which the sample was drawn. RESULTS: An estimated 32.7% of adult health plan members used at least one NVNM supplement. The most frequently used herbs were Echinacea (14.7%) and Gingko biloba (10.9%). Use of all NVNM supplements was highest among females, 45 to 64 years of age, whites, college graduates, and among those with selected health conditions. APPLICATIONS: Dietetics professionals need to uniformly screen clients for dietary supplement use and provide accurate information and appropriate referrals to users.

Authors: Schaffer DM; Gordon NP; Jensen CD; Avins AL

J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Nov;103(11):1500-5.

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