Supplement utilisation patterns of older Australians: results from a randomly selected national sample

Document Type


Publication details

Brownie, S & Rolfe, MI 2005, 'Supplement utilisation patterns of older Australians: Results from a randomly selected national sample', Nutrition & Dietetics, vol. 62, no. 2/3, pp. 89-94.

The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-0080.2005.00014.x

Peer Reviewed



Objective: The aim of the present study was to measure the prevalence and patterns of dietary and health supplement utilisation of older Australians. Design: A self-administered mail questionnaire. Subjects and setting: Almost 2500 Australians aged 65 years and over were randomly selected from the 2000 Australian Electoral Commission roll. All states and territories were proportionally represented in the sample. Responses were obtained from 1263 predominantly independently living Australians aged 65 years and over. Results: At the time of the survey, 43% (n = 548) reported the use of some form of supplement: females 52% (n = 324) and males 35% (n = 224). The supplements used most often were vitamin C (26%), multivitamin/mineral preparations (17%), fish oils (17%), vitamin E (16%), calcium (+/- vitamin D) (13%), garlic capsules or oil (11%), vitamin B (single or mixed) (9%), other single vitamins or minerals (7%), zinc (6%) and gingko (5%). The majority of supplements were consumed regularly (daily or every few days) and for an extended period (more than three years). Supplement users appeared to rely on their doctor, newspapers, family or friends and pharmacy staff for information about supplements. The most commonly cited reasons for supplement use were to enhance energy levels, improve stamina and promote feelings of wellness. Conclusion: A high proportion of older supplement users reported regular and prolonged patterns of supplement use. Health professionals should explore the motives that maintain this behaviour, evaluate the appropriateness of the type and patterns of supplement use and provide supplement users with information that explains the potential risks associated with commonly used supplements.

Find in your library