Characteristics of older dietary supplement users: review of the literature

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Publication details

Brownie, S 2005, 'Characteristics of older dietary supplement users: review of the literature', Australasian Journal on Ageing, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 77-87.

Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-6612.2005.00088.x

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Published literature reports rates of dietary supplement usage by individuals aged 60 years or more to be 16− 60%. Prevalence figures are dependent on the population studied and the method of data collection. In general, older supplement users are female, Caucasian and well educated, with healthier lifestyle practices than non-supplement users, and they are less likely to be overweight or to smoke. Neither income nor self-rated health status are reliable predictors of supplement use in this group. In many cases older supplement users report higher intakes of several micronutrients from food than older non-supplement users. Current patterns of supplement use by the older person reveal that although they consume a range of products, they do not supplement with nutrients that are of particular benefit to them. The supplements most commonly consumed by individuals aged 60 years and over are multivitamins and minerals, vitamin C and vitamin E preparations. There is insufficient data to quantify the dosage, frequency and duration of supplement use by the older population. Obtaining this information and data about herbal medicine use is an important step towards minimising the risk of drug–nutrient–herbal interactions. Identifying the health professionals who monitor the appropriateness and safety of supplement use in older individuals, particularly given the already high use of medication in this population, also needs to be a focus of future utilisation investigations. This systematic review of the literature published between 1982 and 2003 aims to measure the patterns of dietary supplement use by community-living individuals aged 60 years and over and to profile the characteristics of older supplement users.