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To describe the characteristics of dietary supplement users in a large cohort of women and test the hypothesis that supplement users would be more likely to have a healthier lifestyle than non-users.
Comparison of nutrient intakes from food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) data for 8409 supplement users and 5413 non-users. Use of logistic regression modelling to determine predictors of supplement use in this cohort.
13,822 subjects from the UK Women's Cohort Study (UKWCS) for whom data on supplement use was available.
Significant differences in nutrient intakes from FFQ were seen between the two groups, with supplement users having higher intakes of all nutrients, except for fat and vitamin B12. Use of dietary supplements was associated with being vegetarian, vegan or fish-eating, consuming more fruit and vegetables, being more physically active and having a lower alcohol intake. Supplement use was less likely in those with a body mass index above 25 and those who reported smoking regularly.
The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that supplement use is associated with a healthier lifestyle profile and an adequate nutritional intake, suggesting that supplement users do not need to take supplements to meet a nutrient deficiency.