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Trends in Herbal/Dietary Supplement Use

Are more Americans using dietary supplements? Is the sharp trend that began in the 1990s persisting? And which specific herbal/natural products are more popular than others? To answer these and other questions, researchers conducted random telephone interviews from February 1998 - December 2002 with members of households in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. The main outcome measure assessed was weekly prevalence of dietary supplement use, alone or as part of a multi-component product.

So, did the survey answer any of the aforementioned questions? Let's take a look at a sampling of the study's findings, derived from phone interviews with 8,470 subjects ages 18 and older, and published in the Feb. 14, 2005 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine:

  1. Annual use of dietary supplements increased substantially, from 14.2% in 1998-1999 to 18.8% in 2002.
  2. Use did not change significantly among younger subjects; however, use doubled for men and women ages 65 and older.
  3. Use of lutein increased dramatically from 1998-2002, presumably because of its addition to many multivitamin supplements.
  4. Use of ginkgo biloba and panax ginseng declined over the study period.

The authors note that overall, the sharp increase in dietary supplement use seen in the 1990s has slowed, but add: "The addition of supplements, such as lutein and lycopene, to mainstream multivitamins has become an important source of exposure."


  • Kelly JP, Kaufman DW, Kelley K, et al. Recent trends in use of herbal and other natural products. Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb. 14, 2005;165(3):281-88.


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