2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Fruits and vegetables are significant sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect the body from chronic diseases including cardiovascular and certain cancers. Many Americans struggle in maintaining adequate fruit and vegetable intake and therefore, often chose multivitamins to make up for lack of nutrients. The relationship between multivitamin consumption and fruit and vegetable intake was examined in 201 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 95 males (age 20.74 3.15 years) with an average body mass index (BMI) of 22.74 6.31 kg/m2 and 106 females (age 20.85 2.25 years) with a BMI of 24.98 6.40 kg/m2. The students completed surveys asking about their multivitamin use, the frequency of it, the reason for taking, and the amount of fruit and vegetable servings consumed in their daily diet. The results showed that 39% of the students reported using multivitamins. Surprisingly, the main reasons for multivitamin use included students wanting to be healthier and to improve their immune systems. Moreover, students stated that their doctors recommended it or that their parents told them to take multivitamins or purchased them for the students. Other students reported that the reason they took multivitamins was because they weren't receiving enough essential nutrients or vitamins in their daily diets. Compared to those who did not take multivitamins, students who took them consumed 1.12 times more servings of fruits and 1.07 times more servings of vegetables. Although students may recognize the benefits and importance of taking multivitamins, they need to be more informed on the types available and how they affect the body. Many students may use multivitamins as a replacement for fruits and vegetables in their diets and they could be receiving the recommended daily intake.