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Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética

On-line version ISSN 2174-5145Print version ISSN 2173-1292


BALADIA, Eduard et al. Use of dietary supplements and plant extracts products in the Spanish population: a cross-sectional study. Rev Esp Nutr Hum Diet [online]. 2022, vol.26, n.3, pp.217-229.  Epub Mar 13, 2023. ISSN 2174-5145.


The supplements market registers large sales, however, prevalence and reasons for supplements use data in Spain are scarce. The study aimed i) to evaluate the prevalence of use of supplements, and ii) to identify why they are used, their purposes, who prescribe them and where they are purchased.


Cross-sectional study using an ad-hoc online self-administered questionnaire to 2,630 participants (50% women) with sociodemographic characteristics assimilated to the Spanish population. The survey consisted of 24 items to assess population's practices and attitudes in relation to supplements, 9 items on sociodemographic indicators and 6 items on lifestyle habits. A descriptive analysis was carried out, frequency of use of supplements, reasons for their use and their prescribers by the main sociodemographic variables. The IBM SPSS Statistics 25 was used for statistical analysis, placing the p value of statistical significance at <0.05.


75.1% of the studied population (n=1,976) claimed to have consumed some kind of supplements in the last year (63.4% dietary supplements; 30.2% products for special medical uses; 28.6% herbal extracts; 19.9% products intended for athletes; and 13.8% products for weight loss). 70% of the sample claimed to have consumed nutritional or herbals supplements to improve their health, while among the consumers of sports supplements, 50% did it to improve performance. 77% of people who referred consumption of products for weight loss would do so to supplement their diet. Prescribers and points of sales were highly dependent on the type of supplements. Supplements were generally perceived as safe, while their effectiveness was mild to transitory.


The prevalence of use of dietary supplements is high. Improving the general health status, losing weight, and enhancing sports performance are the main motivators for their consumption. A high percentage of the supplements might be self-administered.

Keywords : Dietary Supplements; SPORT dietary supplement; Herbal Supplements; Cross-Sectional Studies; Spain.

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