Vitamins and Supplements: Test Your Knowledge

Who uses supplements?

Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD on April 10, 2008

How many people use vitamins and supplements each year? Which ones are most popular? Do doctors use them? Here’s a rundown of some important supplement statistics, based on the best available data.

  • Number of Americans who use dietary supplements each year: 150 million.
  • Total amount of U.S. supplement sales in 2006: $22.46 billion.
  • Approximate percentage increase in U.S. supplement sales between 1996 and 2006: 100%.
  • Percentage of adults who consider themselves regular users of supplements: 52%.
  • Amount of money spent on supplements each year by a “heavy consumer” -- someone who buys four or more supplements a month: $576.
  • Percentage of doctors who recommend supplements to patients: 79%.
  • Percentage of doctors who actively counsel their patients on how to use supplements: 25%.
  • Percentage of doctors who use supplements themselves: 72%.
  • The top five selling supplements in 2007: 1) Multivitamins, 2) calcium, 3) vitamin C 4) Fish oil 5) Vitamin E.
  • Supplement with the fastest sales growth in 2006: fish and animal oils, for which sales increased 36%.
  • Percentage of Americans who consider vitamins and supplements safe: 84%.
  • Percentage of Americans who do not realize that supplements are not tested or approved by a government agency -- like the FDA -- before they are sold: 52%.
  • Percentage of Americans who do not realize that advertising claims made by the manufacturer of a supplement are not preapproved by the government: 63%.
  • Most common place that doctors and nurses store their own supplements: the kitchen.
  • Percentage of Americans who take both prescription medicine and dietary supplements: 16%.
  • Percentage of Americans who would rather treat themselves than see a doctor: 73%.

Show Sources


Ashar, B. The American Journal of Medicine, February 2008; vol 121: pp 91-97. 

Ashar, B. Journal of Community Health, 2008; vol 33: pp 22-30. 

Council for Responsible Nutrition web site. 

Harris Interactive Health Care News web site: "Widespread Ignorance of Regulation and Labeling of Vitamins, Minerals, and Food Supplements."

News releases, Healthcare Professionals Impact Study. 

National Center for Policy Analysis web site: "Patient Power: Over-the-Counter Drugs."

Natural Marketing Institute's 2007 Health & Wellness Trends Database. 

News release, Nutrition Business Journal. 

FDA web site: "Dietary Supplement Strategic Plan Cost Out."

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