The ADA's position paper, written by registered dietitians Melissa Ventura Marra, a nutrition consultant in Boynton Beach, Fla., and Andrea P. Boyar, associate professor of dietetics, foods and nutrition at Lehman College in New York said: While supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease.
U.S. supplement sales in 2007 totaled $23.7 billion, due in large part to "the aging of the population and consumer desire to maintain good health and prevent disease," Marra and Boyar said.
Sales of supplements such as calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A/beta carotene, magnesium and iron have grown, while vitamin E supplement sales declined slightly.
However, the increase in sales of supplements may not have been accompanied by an increase in consumers' knowledge about what they are taking, the authors said.
ADA's position paper reaffirms the importance of obtaining nutrients from the consumption of a variety of nutrient-rich foods while acknowledging that nutrient supplements may be needed to help fill dietary gaps for some.
The position paper is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.