Dietary Supplement Intake is Associated with Healthier Lifestyle Behaviors in College Students Attending a Regional University in the Southeast: A Cross-Sectional Study

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The relationship between intake of dietary supplements and biomarkers such as insulin and insulin-like growth factor has not been well explored. The primary aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the associations between supplement intake and biological and lifestyle factors. We hypothesized that dietary supplement intake was associated with healthier lifestyle behaviors. College students attending a Southeast university were recruited between January 2018 and April 2019. Blood samples were collected to measure insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Statistical tests employed were linear regression and analysis of variance. Ninety-eight participants completed the study and 91% reported taking at least one supplement, while 5.1% reported taking 9+ supplements once per week. There were no differences in levels of insulin, IGF-1 and ALT by levels of dietary supplement intake. Although there were no differences in HEI-2015 score among the groups, those who consumed five or more supplements met a higher percentage of the recommended intake for fruits, performed aerobic exercise for longer duration, and had lower body fat percentage compared to participants who consumed two or less supplements at least once per week. These findings are consistent with previous studies and suggest that dietary supplement intake is highly prevalent in college students, and it may be related to healthy lifestyle behaviors. Future studies should employ mixed methodology to examine reasons by which college students consume dietary supplements and to assess perceived and direct health benefits associated with consumption.

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Journal of dietary supplements

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