The objective of this article is to report longitudinal patterns of nutrient supplementation in children, to quantify nutrient intakes from supplements and diet, and to examine relationships between supplement use and sociodemographic factors.
Subjects were followed prospectively from birth to 24 months with periodic questionnaires on vitamin/mineral supplement use. Food diaries were completed to report food and beverage intake. Estimates of daily intakes of vitamins and minerals were calculated. Fisher's Exact tests and t tests were used to assess the association of sociodemographic variables with supplement use.
A substantial proportion of young children used supplements. The prevalence of supplement use increased with age. By the end of 24 months, 31.7% used some supplement. Young supplement users consume supplements regularly, ranging from 40% to 60% of days reported. The majority of young children in this cohort could obtain adequate vitamins and minerals from diet alone for the first 24 months of life. Intakes of some nutrients from diet alone, such as vitamin E and folate, were not sufficient for a large proportion of young children. However, intake above the dietary reference intake was observed for a few nutrients, in particular for vitamin A.
Use of nutrient supplements is a common behavior during the first 2 years of life. This study shows that most young children obtain adequate nutrients from diet alone. Health professionals should provide recommendations for nutrient supplementation of generally healthy children based on an assessment of their dietary practices.