~ Supplement Use Associated With Positive Health Status And Health-Related Behaviors

A study published in the July 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition (http://www.nutrition.org/) found that nutritional supplement users in Britain have a greater number of positive health status indicators and health-related behaviors than men and women who don't use supplements.

Researchers at Cambridge University evaluated data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, a longitudinal study of 5,362 individuals born in Great Britain in 1946.  Information from the year 1999 was used for the current study, during which the participants were 53 years old.  Subjects were interviewed concerning alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking, and five day food diaries completed by the participants provided information on dietary and supplement intake.  Waist circumference, height, weight, and blood pressure were ascertained during physical examinations, and blood samples were measured for cholesterol, folate, iron and vitamin B12. 

Forty-five percent of the women and 25 percent of the men in the study reported using supplements.  Women were more likely to consume multinutrient supplements, vitamin E, GLA and vitamin B6, while a greater percentage of men than women reported using fish oil supplements. Men who reported participating in vigorous exercise were 50 percent more likely, and women 60 percent more likely to be supplement users than those who did who did not report this level of exercise.  Female nonsmokers were 50 percent more likely to use supplements than those who smoked.  Women who used supplements also had a lower body mass index, lower waist circumference, and greater plasma folate and vitamin B12 status than those who did not report using supplements.  Individuals with healthier diets that included cereals, fruit, yogurt, oily fish and olive oil were more often supplement users than those who did not consume these foods.

The results of the study show that there is a clustering of healthy behaviors and positive cardiovascular risk factors among some individuals, particularly women.  It also shows that those who could benefit the most from supplements may be the least likely to use them.


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