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Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):587-93. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011002333. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Nutritional supplement use among Slovenian adolescents.

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Helena Šterlinko Grm s.p., Ajba 22, SI-5213 Kanal ob Soči, Slovenia.



Little is known about the prevalence of nutritional supplement use in European adolescents. We conducted the present study to analyse the prevalence of nutritional supplement use and factors associated with this use among Slovenian adolescents.


The nutritional supplementation practices of 818 adolescents were studied using an anonymous questionnaire. Information was sought on the type of supplements used, frequency of use and sources of information.


The region of north-west Slovenia.


Schoolchildren from twenty primary schools and twelve secondary schools.


Some 19·3% of all adolescents reported using at least one nutritional supplement and the prevalence of use was significantly higher in adolescents who were members of sports clubs. Multivitamins were the most common nutritional supplement. Older adolescents were significantly more likely to be supplementing with iron, protein and minerals. Less than 16% of supplement users in our study sought information from health-care professionals. Nearly 62% obtained information from parents and coaches, and many adolescents appear to decide on nutritional supplementation themselves, without advice. Older adolescents were significantly more likely to combine supplements than younger adolescents.


One-fifth of Slovenian adolescents use nutritional supplements. There are clear differences in supplement use between younger (age 12 years) and older (age 17 years) adolescents. Multiple use of supplements, coupled with self-managed supplementation in older adolescents, is concerning. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide accurate information regarding nutritional supplements, which will help adolescents, their parents and coaches to make informed choices about their use.

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