NUTRITION CORNER: Study reveals Filipino health supplement users increase

The use of health supplements among adults in Metro Manila increased from 1998 to 2008, according to a study done by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST).

The study showed that in 2008, 9 out of 10 adults were aware of health supplements, compared with only 4 out 10 in 1998. Among those who were aware of health supplements in 2008, 5 out of 10 actually used them. However, in 1998, there were only 3 out 10 health supplement users of those who were aware.

Among the regular users of health supplements, 64.7 percent consumed the supplements with single nutrient category only, e.g. vitamin C. Only 60.4 percent used those with combined nutrients such as multivitamins.

Herbal supplements were consumed by 51.4 percent of regular users and 48.6 percent of sporadic users of supplements.

The reasons for using supplements varied. Some were based on perceptions that those supplements make one healthy; give energy; and help perform better in school and work and that they are not getting enough vitamins from the diet. Others said that they take these because supplements are doctor-recommended; someone influenced them or just for curiosity’s sake.

Majority of those included in the study agreed to health belief statements on what health supplements can particularly do to a person, it is needed if a person feels tired and run-down and makes one feel better physically. However, they disagreed that one can skip meals and just take health supplements.

In both 1998 and 2008 study years, there was a strong belief on the positive effects of health supplements.

The FNRI-DOST reminds the public that while dietary supplements may help increase nutrient intake and make one feel healthier, eating a variety and well-balance food is still the best way to meet the recommended energy and nutrient intakes of an individual.

Promotion of appropriate health claims on supplements should be strengthened and monitored to ensure that accurate messages about health supplements reach the consumers.#