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Vitamin Pills May Not Help Reach Intake Guidelines

Efficacy of supplementation varies according to race and gender

THURSDAY, Mar. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Taking dietary supplements can help patients reach recommended intake levels for calcium, vitamin C and magnesium, but this is not always the case and many adults are still falling short of the recommended intake, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Andrea N. Burnett-Hartman, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,938 men and 3,299 women who were questioned about their food intake and dietary supplement use. The authors calculated the odds of reaching adequate or recommended levels of intake for calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C, and sorted the data by sex and race/ethnicity.

The odds of supplement users versus non-users reaching recommended daily intake levels varied widely, from 1.9 among white men to 5.7 among black women for calcium, for example, and 2.5 in Hispanic men to 5.2 in Chinese men for magnesium, the researchers found. However, there was no strong association between supplementation and reaching recommended daily intake levels of potassium, the data revealed.

"The large sample size and multiple ethnic groups in this population gave us enough power to examine interactions between supplementation and ethnicity," the authors write. "In addition, the large sample size and detailed dietary questionnaire allowed for a very specific analysis of the micronutrients of interest and dietary supplementation."

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