Dietary supplements are pills, capsules, tablets, or liquid products that contain a vitamin, mineral, herb, botanical, or amino acid. These products are usually marketed using health claims that do not have to be approved or safety-tested by the U.S. FDA. The literature on the use of herbal supplements has identified gaps in the knowledge associated with factors that influence their use, especially among young adults in rural Appalachia. This study (a) collected information regarding demographics, type of supplements and frequency of use, and (b) identified factors that are statistically related to an increased use of herbal supplementation. It was found that only two variables, amount of fruit and vegetables in the diet and number of physician visits per year, were related to increased herbal supplement use. Female participants who have a better perception of science as a discipline, compared with male participants, tend to use herbal supplements more often. It was noted that many participants could not differentiate herbal supplements from real medications. This information can be used to plan and implement targeted awareness campaigns that can educate college students about the lack of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of herbal supplements and the “whole food” approach to nutrition.
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