The use of dietary supplements (DSs) by children and adolescents is increasing. The aim of this study was to identify the characteristics of DS users and examine the nutritional contributions of DSs to total nutrient intakes in children and adolescents, using data obtained from a national survey.
In total, 3134 subjects aged 9-18 years who participated in the 4th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2009) were selected; the survey included 24-h recall questions on food intake and questions on DS use over the past year. Nutrient intakes from DSs were calculated using the aid of a label-based database on such supplements, and individual total nutrient intakes were derived by combining information on the foods and DSs consumed by each subject.
There were 895 DS users (28.5%), 85.2% of whom (n=577) had complete DS nutrient information and were therefore defined as identified-DS users. Identified-DS users were slightly younger and had a greater household income and better nutritional knowledge than did non-users. The most frequently consumed type of supplement was a 'multivitamin and minerals' complex. For total nutrient intake, identified-DS users had a significantly higher intake of most of the nutrients, except for macronutrient and sodium than non-users. In all identified-DS users, the contribution of vitamins and minerals from DSs to total nutrient intake was higher than energy and macronutrients.
DS use by children and adolescents can improve micronutrient status, but it also increases the risk of excessive intake of certain vitamins and minerals.