Supplement users in Germany seem not to overdose minerals

February 25, 2015

A new national survey reports that in the average population the use of supplements does not take them over the tolerable upper intake limits of minerals and trace elements.

The survey analyzed data regarding the consumer behavior of 1070 supplement users (40.8% men, 59.2% women) aged between 18 and 93 years (1). The results showed that only in a few cases – involving the intake of magnesiumcalcium and zinc in elderly individuals – supplement use took people over tolerable upper intake limits. Overall supplement use was not taking the normal population over recommended nutrient limits. Multiple use, meaning intakes via different supplement products, was not a widespread issue. Most supplements were consumed daily (61.3%), throughout the year (71.3%) and for at least one year (56.1%). Some risk groups showed a high mineral intake via normal foods.

The researchers commented that the consumption of supplements in European member states ranges between 17.9% and 60% of the population increasing with age. There is certain evidence that excessive intake of specific nutrients can cause adverse effects. Based on this background, maximum intake levels have been established for most minerals and vitamins. Setting EU-wide maximum amounts for vitamins and minerals in food supplements would be desirable but should be established with a sense of proportion, the scientists said.


1. Willers J. et al. Intake of Minerals from Food Supplements in a German Population – A Nationwide Survey. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2015; 6(2):205–215.