An excessive use of vitamin/mineral supplements is considered by many to be a common health problem. We surveyed 1,355 adolescent boys and girls attending athletic high schools in Korea for their usage patterns of vitamin/mineral supplements. The usage rate of the vitamin/mineral supplements was 35.8%. The most favored supplements were vitamin C, multivitamins, and calcium. The reasons most cited for taking supplements were "to recover from fatigue," and "to maintain health." Vitamin and mineral intakes occurred over a wide range; mean intake values were typically higher than the Korean RDA. Vitamins B , B12 and C were consumed in very high amounts at 29.7,17.9 and 11.1 times the Korean RDA, respectively. When the intakes of nutrients from supplements and diet were combined, it was observed that the intakes of niacin, folic acid, vitamin C, and iron exceeded levels that have been proposed as upper safe limits. The above data underscore the need to provide sound nutritional education to athletic adolescents and their coaches with respect to the use of vitamin/ mineral supplements and the links between adequate diet, good health, and physical performance.
Sun H. Kim is with the Dept, of Home Economics Education, Kongju National University, Shinkwan-dong, Kongju, Chungnam-do, 314-701, Korea. Carl L. Keen is with the Depts. of Nutrition & Internal Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616.