Patterns of dietary supplement usage in demographically diverse older people

Shirley S. Kishiyama, Marjorie J. Leahy, Tracy A. Zitzelberger, Robin Guariglia, Daniel P. Zajdel, James F. Calvert, Jeffrey A. Kaye, Barry S. Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective • To analyze dietary supplement usage data from 494 older adults, aged 65 to 101 years. Setting •Community dwellers living independently of institutionalized care. Design • All dietary supplements, including botanicals, were recorded to aid in assessing the health status of older adults. Participants • 1) 224 individuals enrolled in a study that follows the health of persons 85 years and older (oldest-old) in Klamath County, a non-metropolitan area in southern Oregon; 2) 134 participants of oldest-old age living in the metropolitan Portland area, enrolled in a randomized clinical trial of GBE biloba extract (GBE) for dementia prevention; and 3) 136 participants, ages 65-85 years (young-old), also of the Portland area, enrolled in a study of the effects of yoga and exercise on cognition. Measurements • Data verified from labels, not from self-report. Results • Of the participants, 70.6% used dietary supplements. Women took supplements more often than men, and usage decreased with age. A greater percentage, 67.4%, of the non-metropolitan oldest-old took supplements, compared to 56.7% of the metropolitan oldest-old. The greatest usage, 89.7%, was in the metropolitan young-olds. All of these percentages exceed those for comparable age groups in national representative surveys. Conclusions • Dietary supplement usage by older adults in these studies in Oregon exceeded that in other reports and may reflect high interest in complementary and alternative medicine. This report confirms the results of other studies showing that elderly adults, particularly women, use dietary supplements more than other segments of the US population. Researchers and clinicians should be aware of this pattern and potential conflicts with research design or treatment regimen intended for older people. Initial data was presented at the International Conference on Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine Research, San Francisco, 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-53
Number of pages6
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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