Survey reveals consumers still don't know nutrients well

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Percent, Vitamin, Nutrition, Dietary supplement

There is still a long way to go in educating consumers on which
nutrients support which systems in the body indicates a new survey
from the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).

The survey found that while the majority of respondents believe they are knowledgeable about multivitamins, many do not know which vitamins and minerals are essential for specific functions in the body. For instance, when asked to choose which vitamins, from a list of examples, can help maintain healthy eyesight, only 27 percent of participants correctly identified vitamin A. For supplement formulators, this may mean their message is not being heard strongly enough by consumers. This could point supplement marketers towards wrapping their products in condition-specific formulas - thereby making it easier for consumers to address specific needs with the right nutrients. The trend to create condition-specific formulas is already well underway, with many companies targeting key health areas such as joint, cognitive or cardiovascular health. Conducted by market research company Ipsos and funded by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, the survey was based on 1,009 online interviews with adults 25 to 65 years of age from across the US between October 30 and November 5. The survey found that 86 percent of women say they take an active role in maintaining their health, compared to only 77 percent of the male respondents. However, men taking multivitamins proved more likely to take them consistently than women - 92 percent of men taking a multivitamin did so five to seven days per week, compared to 84 percent of women. According to NWHRC, the concern with women having an inadequate knowledge of nutrients is that they are in turn the ones most likely to take an active role in maintaining their families' health. When the participants were asked which vitamin is essential for calcium absorption in the body, more than a third indicated they were not sure, or did not know it is in fact vitamin D. Furthermore, when asked to identify non-essential vitamins and minerals, only 44 percent correctly recognized that the poison arsenic is not an essential nutrient. Despite revealing that 49 percent of respondents are somewhat concerned about LDL cholesterol, the survey found that less than a quarter actually understand that some multivitamins can help lower this so-called "bad" cholesterol. The survey participants appeared to be unfamiliar with the benefits of phytosterols for heart health - only 20 percent understand that these ingredients can help lower LDL cholesterol. Other surveys have revealed similar knowledge gaps vis-à-vis dietary supplement ingredients in the past.

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