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Something else Americans consume a lot of: Vitamins

Christina Medici Scolaro
Big Data Download
Something else Americans consume a lot of: Vitamins

Americans have the highest obesity rates and one of the largest populations of diabetics in the world, yet the U.S. tops the charts in terms of supplement intake. According to a study conducted by consumer products analysis firm the TABS group, 66 percent of adults, or 186 million people, took some sort of dietary supplement in 2012.

Dietary supplements include meal replacements, sports nutrition, herbs and botanicals, vitamins and minerals.

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The Nutrition Business Journal has tracked sales for the industry since 1997, when it grossed $14 billion. Every year since then, sales have grown at 5.5 percent. The industry is expected to gross $34.5 billion this year.

Thirty-four percent of sales—or about $11.7 billion—comes from vitamins. Minerals account for the least amount of sales, coming in at 8 percent of the total, or about $2.8 billion.

According to the TABS study, the number of Americans consuming supplements actually fell to 66 percent from 71 percent last year, which suggests that those still buying supplements seem to be buying more than they have in the past.

Industry studies show various reasons for why vitamins are consumed in such high quantities: to make up for a poor diet, as a substitute for health care, and as a way to slow the aging process.

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Nicholas Colas, market strategist at ConvergEx Group, estimates that the average American is spending about $215 per year on dietary supplements, based on the number of people consuming and total sales.

In terms of a ripple effect for the larger U.S. economy, currently, the industry comprises about 1.2 percent of all U.S. health expenditures, which are expected to total $2.9 trillion in 2013 and about 0.2 percent of all GDP, according to ConvergEx Group.

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