People choose to use micronutrient supplements for various reasons. Survey data indicate that many individuals decide to take micronutrient supplements based on advice from health professionals, family, and friends. A majority of supplement users regard micronutrient supplements as 'insurance' against general poor health or becoming ill, even though they recognize that scientific evidence for this belief may be lacking. Generally, people report that they use supplements either because they think that it is difficult to consume a balanced diet or because they believe that even consuming a balanced diet cannot supply the quantity of micronutrients they need for optimal good health.
Major health reasons given for taking supplements include a sense of well-being and 'feeling better' (especially multivitamins/minerals), preventing colds and flu (especially vitamin C), preventing chronic disease (especially vitamin E and calcium), increasing 'energy,' coping with stress, and improving the immune system. Many vitamin E users believe that the vitamin helps prevent heart disease, and most calcium users know that calcium use helps prevent osteoporosis. Using micronutrient supplements is one way by which people who may be at high risk for certain diseases try to gain some degree of personal control over their health outcomes. Ironically, many individuals who take supplements regularly report that they do not discuss the supplement use with their physicians because they believe that physicians are biased against supplements and are not knowledgeable about the products.
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