Intake of Minerals from Food Supplements in a German Population—A Nationwide Survey


Introduction: Studies indicate that 17.9% - 60% of adults in Germany and Europe regularly use food supplements. Some reports suggest that their use might be responsible for excessive nutrient intake. The purpose of this survey was to examine the quantitative mineral intakes from food supplements: whether the tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) with supplements alone, or in combination with food was exceeded was checked. Methods: The survey was carried out by the Association for Consumer Research, Nürnberg, Germany. Anonymous data of 1070 supplement users (40.8% men, 59.2% women) aged 18 - 93 years were available. Three groups were examined based on dietary and supplemental mineral intakes: average, middle-high and high intake. Results: The mean number of supplements reported was 1.6 ± 1.1 products in men and 1.5 ± 0.9 products in women. The minerals most frequently consumed were magnesium, followed by calcium, zinc and selenium. The percentage of the supplement users with total intakes greater than the UL was minimal for all minerals. Supplement use in 143 cases increased the likelihood of intakes above the UL only for magnesium. Subjects particularly in the high intake group—as a worst case scenario—had intakes above the UL in the case of calcium (n = 23) and zinc (n = 34). The percentage of subjects taking several products was greater in subjects exceeding the UL than in those below (P < 0.001). Multiple use was seen significantly more often in men than in women (P < 0.01). Conclusions: In this survey, supplement use was generally not associated with excessive intake. Supplement use resulted in intakes above the UL in only a few cases relating to magnesium, calcium and zinc. This applies more often to elderly subjects and particularly to those who already have a high mineral intake from food in the model calculation.

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Willers, J. , Heinemann, M. , Bitterlich, N. and Hahn, A. (2015) Intake of Minerals from Food Supplements in a German Population—A Nationwide Survey. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 6, 205-215. doi: 10.4236/fns.2015.62021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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