Use of dietary supplements is widespread, yet intakes from supplements are difficult to quantify. The Supplement Reporting (SURE) study utilized a unique inventory method to quantify dietary supplement use across one year in a sample of 397 supplement users. Interviewers visited participants’ homes in 2005–2006 to record supplement purchases and the number of pills in each supplement bottle every three months. Total use for the year was calculated from these inventories. Participants in this observational study were older adults (average age = 68 years) from the Multiethnic Cohort in Hawaii and Los Angeles, with approximately equal representation of males and females and six ethnic groups (Caucasian, Japanese-American, Hawaiian, African-American, Latinos born in the United States and Latinos born elsewhere). The most commonly used supplement type was one-a-day multivitamins/minerals, which were taken at least once during the year by 83% of men and 73% of women. Other common supplements were multivitamins, vitamin C, fish oil, vitamin E and bone or joint supplements. Participants used a median of 7 (women) and 5.5 (men) different supplements over the year. There were few differences in supplement use across ethnic groups for men, but usage tended to be highest for Caucasian and Japanese-American women. Use of non-vitamin/non-mineral supplements was common among these older adults, sometimes at high doses. When assessing intakes, supplement use should be correctly quantified because users tend to take many different supplements and nutrient intakes from supplements can be substantial. The inventory method may help improve the measurement of supplement use.
Keywords: Dietary supplement use, nutrient intakes, non-vitamin non-mineral supplements