Nutrient intake and use of dietary supplements among US adults with disabilities

Ruopeng An, Ph.D., Chung-Yi Chiu, Ph.D., Flavia Andrade, Ph.D.

Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1206 S 4th Street, Champaign, IL 61820, USA



Physical, mental, social, and financial hurdles in adults with disabilities may limit their access to adequate nutrition.


To examine the impact of dietary supplement use on daily total nutrient intake levels among US adults 20 years and older with disabilities.


Study sample came from 2007–2008 and 2009–2010 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative repeated cross-sectional survey. Disability was classified into 5 categories using standardized indices. Nutrient intakes from foods and dietary supplements were calculated from 2 nonconsecutive 24-hour dietary recalls. Two-sample proportion tests and multiple logistic regressions were used to examine the adherence rates to the recommended daily nutrient intake levels between dietary supplement users and nonusers in each disability category. The association between sociodemographic characteristics and dietary supplement use was assessed using multiple logistic regressions, accounting for complex survey design.


A substantial proportion of the US adult population with disabilities failed to meet dietary guidelines, with insufficient intakes of multiple nutrients. Over half of the US adults with disabilities used dietary supplements. Dietary supplement use was associated with higher adherence rates for vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc intake among adults with disabilities. Women, non-Hispanic Whites, older age, higher education, and higher household income were found to predict dietary supplement use.


Proper use of dietary supplements under the guidance of health care providers may improve the nutritional status among adults with disabilities.