Rates of vitamin-mineral supplement use by US female physicians are unknown but are of particular interest for several epidemiologic and clinical reasons.
The objective was to determine rates of and variations in vitamin-mineral supplement use among US female physicians.
We used data from the Women Physicians' Health Study, a large (n = 4501) national, randomly sampled mail survey of female physicians aged 30-70 y.
Half of the physicians took a multivitamin-mineral supplement; 35.5% of these did so regularly. However, </=33% took any supplement other than calcium and <20% did so regularly. Regular vitamin-mineral supplement use increased with age, and antioxidant intake was higher in those at high risk of heart disease. Those with a history of osteoporosis were nearly 3 times as likely as those with no history to take supplemental calcium regularly. Those who took any supplement regularly also consumed more fruit and vegetables daily than did occasional users or nonusers (P: < 0.0001). Regular users of any supplement also consumed less fat than did occasional users or nonusers (P: < 0.01). Additionally, vegetarians were more likely than were nonvegetarians to regularly consume any supplement (59.9% compared with 46.3%; P: < 0.001) and those who regularly consumed any supplement were more likely to comply with US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines than were those who were occasional users or nonusers (72.4% compared with 66.5% and 60.2%; P: < 0.0001).
Female physicians, particularly those who were especially health conscious or at higher risk of heart disease or osteoporosis, used supplements at rates at least equal to those of women in the general population.