This study was conducted to assess the pattern of use of nutritional supplements (NSs) and functional foods (FFs), reasons for their use, factors influencing their use, and perception toward their use among medical students. Data were collected from 400 randomly chosen participants using a self-administered semistructured questionnaire. The most common source of information on these substances was from medical professionals (n = 140 [35%]). Multivitamins were consumed by 48 (45.3%) participants. Most common reasons stated for the use of supplements were for good health (n = 39 [36.8%]), doctor's prescription (n = 36 [34%]), and to balance a poor diet (n = 34 [32.1%]). Sixty-six (62.3%) users used NSs on a daily or more than once daily basis. In 17.9% of the users, supplements were not recommended by a doctor or a dietician. The use of NSs was significantly more among females (p < .001), participants who exercised regularly (p < .001), participants who habitually skipped breakfast (p = 0.04), those with a family history of use of these products (p < .001), and those with “poor to fair” self-rated health (p = .017). Use of FFs was associated with family history of use (p < .001) and intensity of exercise (p = .039). Participants who significantly used multiple NSs in this study were those who were vegetarians (p = .044) and those with “poor to fair” self-rated health (p = .047). Participants who used multiple FFs were female (p < .001). Only 18 (16.9%) users felt that regular use of NSs results in side effects. In multivariate analysis, family history of NS use was found to influence its usage among participants (p < 0.001). It is a matter of concern that there is lack of knowledge on NSs and FFs among medical students. Therefore, they need to learn more about the indications and the safety of prescription of these products.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Pharmacology (medical)