Vitamins and Supplements: Test Your Knowledge

Who uses supplements?

From the WebMD Archives

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%.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD on April 10, 2008



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."

© 2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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