Dietary supplements increase the risk of excessive micronutrient intakes in Danish children

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Purpose: Dietary supplement use is common in Northern Europe. Many dietary supplements contain 100% of nutrient reference values (NRV) of micronutrients. This study investigates the contribution of dietary supplements to micronutrient intake, the prevalence of excess intake of micronutrients, and parental characteristics of dietary supplement use in Danish children.
Methods: Data on 499 4–10-year-old children from the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity 2011–2013 were analysed using non-parametric statistics to compare micronutrient intake from the diet and dietary supplements to the reference intake (RI), and to the tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for users and non-users of dietary supplements. Furthermore, characteristics of the parents of users and non-users of dietary supplements were examined by logistic regression analysis.
Results: Sixty-four percent of the children were dietary supplement users. Multivitamin-mineral supplements were the most frequently used type of supplement (60%). Children of never-smokers were more likely to use supplements than children of smokers. Users had significantly higher total intakes of 15 micronutrients compared to non-users. Intakes of vitamin A, zinc, and iodine from the diet alone exceeded ULs in 12–30% of the children. Use of dietary supplements gave rise to 21–73% of children in exceedance of the aforementioned three ULs as well as the UL for iron (6–45%).
Conclusion: Dietary supplement use was common among 4–10-year-old Danish children and resulted in a considerable proportion of users exceeding the ULs for vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and iron. The long-term health consequences of exceeding these ULs for children are unknown.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Pages (from-to)2449-2462
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Nutritional supplements
  • Multivitamins
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Denmark


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