According to new research published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vitamin D supplement use has increased among healthcare professionals in recent years, and this increase is mirrored with the increase in vitamin D research.
The researchers used data collected from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).
The NHS was launched in 1976 and is a cohort study of 121,700 female nurses that has focused on how diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors relate to health and disease. The study has administered questionnaires to participants every two years since its initiation.
The HPFS began in 1986 and is a cohort study of 51,529 male health professionals from various fields. For the study, participants are administered questionnaires every two years to help understand how nutritional factors relate to the incidence of certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
For the current study, Dr. Hyun Ja Kim and colleagues were interested in how supplement use has changed over the 20 year period between 1986 and 2000. They looked at questionnaire responses surrounding vitamin and mineral supplement use. Their analysis included 74,194 participants from the NHS and 50,497 participants from the HPFS.
They found that the use of multivitamins, vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and fish oil has increased since 1990.
For vitamin D specifically, use of supplements increased between 1990 and 2006 from 2.2% to 32.2% for women and 1.1% to 6.7% for men. The researchers found that vitamin D supplement use mainly increased in the 2000s.
The researchers note that this increase in vitamin D supplement use coincides with the increase in vitamin D research beyond bone health on chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer which began in the early 2000s.
“The use of many types of dietary vitamin and mineral supplements has increased substantially over the past 20 years,” the researchers concluded.