New research shows that a large majority of consumers in the European Union use food supplements responsibly – laying to rest the myth that many people do not understand how to take them safely
Food Supplements Europe (FSE) commissioned IPSOS to survey 13,200 adult consumers in 14 EU countries about their supplement usage.
The findings demonstrate widespread penetration, with 88% of respondents having used a food supplement at some point in their lives and 93% of this group having done so in the past 12 months.
The survey also reveals a high level of interaction with, and understanding of, product labels. As many as 85% of those who had ever taken supplements strongly agreed or tended to agree that they follow the instructions for use provided on-pack by the manufacturer. Nearly the same number (82%) said they always or usually look at the label to ascertain the recommended dose and frequency of use.
More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) said they agreed that the ingredient information provided on labels is easy to understand. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said they were confident in the safety and quality of food supplements with only 6% disagreeing with this statement.
FSE Chair Martina Simova, said: “The findings of the survey demonstrate that most people are careful to follow directions of use when taking food supplements. Concerns are sometimes expressed that supplements might easily be misused by consumers, either wilfully or inadvertently. But this research, conducted by IPSOS, shows that these concerns are unwarranted, and that in fact consumers are predominantly responsible supplement users.”
The survey found that the type of food supplement most commonly consumed was vitamin D, which was taken by 46% of respondents during the previous 12-month period. This was followed by vitamin C (36%), magnesium (33%), a multivitamin/mineral supplement (29%), and Omega 3/fish oil (19%).
More than half of respondents (52%) who had used supplements in the past year said they had done so to maintain their overall health, while 45% said they had done so to maintain their immune system. The next most commonly cited reasons for using supplements were for energy (29%), for skin, hair and nail health (17%), for gut or digestive health (17%), and for heart health or blood pressure (14%).