Dietary supplements are so mainstream—what’s next?

Just 52% percent of U.S. adults took dietary supplements in 1999 when I first started working for the dietary supplement industry—interestingly, a small majority but nowhere near today’s rates.

In 2021, 80% of Americans reported using dietary supplements, according to the CRN Consumer Survey—an all-time high. 

Let’s take a look at how we got here.

The 1999–2000 data comes from the government’s “NHANES”—Dietary Supplement Use by US Adults: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2000, published in the Journal of Epidemiology. 

Most commonly reported in NHANES were multivitamin/multiminerals—usually a standard or senior formula. Other 1999–2000 data show:

  • 35% reported taking multivitamin/multiminerals.
  • 13% took vitamin C.
  • 12% took vitamin E.
  • 10% reported taking calcium supplements, which increased to nearly 25% when calcium-containing antacids not recorded as dietary supplements were included. 
  • 5% took B-complex vitamins.

This was just five years following the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) being signed into law. Dietary supplement regulation has evolved since 1994, growing along with use and acceptance, with additions generally promoted by responsible industry leaders, such as:

Cut to 2008—supplement use grew to 64% and continued to grow steadily over the decade.

Additional legislation was passed:

  • The Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (2014)
  • Food Safety & Modernization Act (2011)

DSHEA provided a solid foundation and these added provisions enhanced this foundation to allow the industry to grow, propelled by an ever growing body of scientific research supporting an array of health and wellness benefits.

Responsible industry is now calling for FDA to publish final guidance for new dietary ingredients (NDIs) and most are aligned, at least in concept, with a mandatory product listing requirement.

Dietary supplements are now decidedly mainstream. And supplement users demonstrate that they understand the appropriate role these products are meant to play—as one of a constellation of habits that contribute to overall wellness. 

More supplement users report practicing healthy habits than non-users, according to data from several years of CRN’s Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, with 2021 data showing:

So, what’s next for dietary supplements? Although we’ve arrived at a baseline of mainstream acceptance, the industry is faced with ongoing challenges from an array of angles.

The remainder of the story is proprietary, members-only content.