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Can J Public Health. 2007 Sep-Oct;98(5):383-8.

The use of herbal and other non-vitamin, non-mineral supplements among pre- and post-menopausal women in Ontario.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.



Herbal or other non-vitamin, non-mineral (NVNM) supplements are used by many Canadians, and are of public health significance given potential health effects. The majority of supplement users are women, yet there are limited data on their pattern of use. Ontario women were surveyed about their use of NVNM supplements, including those for women's health, and characteristics associated with use were examined.


3,423 randomly selected Ontario households were telephoned to identify eligible women (25-65 years). Of the 1,741 identified, 800 agreed to participate and were mailed a self-administered questionnaire querying NVNM supplement use and health-related characteristics. Prevalence of use, duration, and reasons for use were calculated; distributions of respondent characteristics were tabulated and associations with supplement use were assessed.


478 women (27%) completed questionnaires; 64% reported ever, and 34% reported current use of NVNM supplements. Echinacea was the most frequently used, followed by evening primrose, garlic, and camomile; supplements were used for less than one year. Alleviation of symptoms and prevention of illness were two primary reasons for taking NVNM supplements. 49% reported ever, and 37% reported current use of supplements for women's health, and for reasons similar to other NVNM supplements. High body mass index (> or =30.0 kg/m2) was associated with more supplement use, and visiting a physiotherapist in the past year was associated with less.


Findings suggest a high level of NVNM supplement use among Ontario women, possibly associated with certain health-related characteristics. This has important public health implications considering possible benefits and/or interactions with conventional medications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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