Dietary supplements are used by one-third of children. We examined motivations for
supplement use in children, the types of products used by motivations, and the role of
physicians and health care practitioners in guiding choices about supplements.
We examined motivations for dietary supplement use reported for children (from birth to
19 y of age; n = 8,245) using the National Health and Nutrition Examination
Dietary supplements were used by 31% of children; many different reasons were given as
follows: to “improve overall health” (41%), to “maintain health”
(37%), for “supplementing the diet” (23%), to “prevent health
problems” (20%), and to “boost immunity” (14%). Most children (~90%)
who use dietary supplements use a multivitamin–mineral or multivitamin product.
Supplement users tend to be non-Hispanic white, have higher family incomes, report more
physical activity, and have health insurance. Only a small group of supplements used by
children (15%) were based on the recommendation of a physician or other health care
Most supplements used by children are not under the recommendation of a health care
provider. The most common reasons for use of supplements in children are for health
promotion, yet little scientific data support this notion in nutrient-replete