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Open AccessArticle

The Prevalence of Dietary Supplement Use Among Elementary, Junior High, and High School Students: A Nationwide Survey in Japan

Department of Food Function and Labeling, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8636, Japan
Laboratory of Medical Chemistry, Graduate School of Nutrition Sciences, Kagawa Nutrition University, 3-9-21 Chiyoda, Sakado, Saitama 350-0288, Japan
Department of Food Safety and Management, Showa Women’s University; 1-7-57 Taishido, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-8533, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(9), 1176;
Received: 6 August 2018 / Revised: 18 August 2018 / Accepted: 24 August 2018 / Published: 28 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Dietary Supplements)
The prevalence of dietary supplement use, such as vitamins, minerals, or fish oil, has increased among children in Japan; however, whether children are using dietary supplements appropriately remains unclear. This study aimed to determine dietary supplement use among children. In August 2017, a nationwide internet preliminary survey of 265,629 mothers aged from 25 to 59 years old was undertaken. Of these, 19,041 mothers of children attending either elementary school, junior high school, or high school were selected. Among them, 16.4% were currently providing their children with dietary supplements and 5.2% had previously given dietary supplements to their children. The prevalence of dietary supplement use was higher in boys than in girls, and the prevalence increased according to their grade. A total of 2439 participants were eligible to undertake a targeted survey on dietary supplement use. Dietary supplements were being taken to maintain health, supplement nutrients, and enhance growth in both boys and girls, and many children (37.5%) were provided with vitamin and mineral supplements. Mothers mainly obtained information concerning dietary supplements via the internet, and supplements were purchased in drug stores or via the internet. The prevalence of dietary supplement use in mothers was 65.4% and may be associated with the prevalence rates in children. Some mothers reported adverse events (3.6%) in their children, such as stomachache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and constipation. The cause-and-effect relationships for adverse events were not clear, but some children were given products for adults. Children are more influenced by dietary supplements compared to adults. To prevent adverse events due to inappropriate use, parental education concerning dietary supplements is essential. View Full-Text
Keywords: dietary supplement; children; mothers; adverse event; internet survey dietary supplement; children; mothers; adverse event; internet survey
MDPI and ACS Style

Kobayashi, E.; Nishijima, C.; Sato, Y.; Umegaki, K.; Chiba, T. The Prevalence of Dietary Supplement Use Among Elementary, Junior High, and High School Students: A Nationwide Survey in Japan. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1176.

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