Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences


American Dietetic Association; Vitamins in human nutrition; Minerals in human nutrition; Older people--Health and hygiene; Dietitians--Attitudes; Dietary supplements


The object of this study was to analyze the attitudes and knowledge of dietitians regarding nutrient supplementation in the elderly as well as their personal consumption and practice habits. The purpose of this research was also to examine whether the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on vitamin and mineral supplementation is the standard used by dietitians in practice. A survey was mailed to a random sample of three-hundred dietitians from two practice groups. Gerontologist nutritionists and public health nutritionists were used to identify differences in personal and professional practices. Forty-three percent of the questionnaires were usable and analyzed using descriptive statistics. More than eighty percent of all dietitians believed nutrient supplements are an effective, inexpensive, and safe means for older adults to meet their Recommended Dietary Intakes. The majority of respondents also reported supplements could help prevent chronic disease and optimize health in seniors. Most of the dietitians thought the elderly are nutritionally at risk and do not meet the RDAs for several vitamins and minerals. Eighty percent of gerontologist nutritionists and fifty percent of public health nutritionists reported recommending a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to seniors. Eighty-five percent of the subjects in the study consumed nutrient supplements and indicated a strong interest in more training and education on this topic. This survey demonstrated while the majority of dietitians working with the elderly promote use of supplementation in this age group, they are being guided by sources of information other than the ADA position paper. The purpose of the position paper is to assure dietitians are practicing within boundaries to avoid violation of the principles of the ADA and the profession. The paper also serves to ensure dietitians are providing clear and consistent information to better serve the public. Further research in the area of vitamin and mineral supplementation in the elderly could aid the ADA in taking a stronger stance. The ADA and the profession should take the lead role in educating and treating the elderly not only based on individualized dietary assessment, but also to provide guidelines to the population as a whole.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [58]-65)


[viii], 78 pages




Northern Illinois University

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