- When deciding what to eat or drink each day, the majority of people say they consider the presence of specific vitamins and minerals at least sometimes. About one in five say they always keep them in consideration.
- Vitamins D and C have been most frequently sought after by survey takers. The strongest motivators for seeking out specific vitamins and minerals cited by respondents are general health/wellness and immune health.
- When shopping for foods, beverages and/or dietary supplements, the Nutrition Facts label and front-of-package labels are the top sources of information for the vitamin and/or mineral content in products. Digital information sources were not nearly as popular.
- Most have heard of the term “fortification,” but only a quarter of those people know at least a fair amount about it.
- Of those who have heard of fortification, most believe that fortified foods or beverages are convenient, safe and can have health benefits.
It’s long been recognized that vitamins and minerals play essential roles in human health. But despite this appreciation, do people actually take them into consideration when making daily choices about what they eat and drink? If so, which vitamins and minerals do people seek out? And where do they look for this information when grocery shopping? In addition to finding the answers to these questions, this survey aimed to find out how people perceive the process of fortification (one method of adding vitamins and minerals to foods and beverages).
Here are some key findings:
Most people consider the presence of vitamins and minerals at least sometimes when making decisions about what to eat and drink. Nearly three in four (72%) consider the presence of vitamins at least sometimes, and 22% consider it always. When it comes to minerals, 65% consider the presence of minerals at least sometimes and 17% always keep them in mind.
Vitamins D and C are the most frequently sought after, followed by vitamin B12 and calcium. Two in three (66%) said they most frequently seek out vitamin D, and 62% said the same about vitamin C. Demographic comparisons show that age and gender influence which vitamins and minerals are most desired. People age 65 years or older were more likely to seek out vitamin D, calcium and potassium compared with people under age 45, and women were more likely than men to seek out vitamin B12 and calcium.
Most people turn to foods and supplements for sources of specific vitamins and minerals. Of those who look for vitamins and minerals in things they eat and drink, 56% say they seek them out in foods and nearly half (49%) say they seek them out via dietary supplements. Fewer (37%) say they look to get vitamins and minerals from beverages. However, people under age 45 were more likely to turn to beverages than people age 65 years or older—who, by contrast, were more likely to seek out specific vitamins and minerals in supplement form.
The strongest motivators for seeking out specific vitamins and minerals are general health/wellness and immune health. Of those who cited immune health as a top priority, nearly half (49%) shared that doing so has become much more important now since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and an additional 25% said it has become somewhat more important.
Despite a dependency on technology in many aspects of our lives, people still prefer to get information on vitamins and minerals through on-package sources. Of those who seek out specific vitamins and/or minerals, the Nutrition Facts label and front-of-package labels are top sources of information, followed by the Supplement Facts label and ingredients list. Digital sources of information were far less popular—only one in five (21%) said they consult the food/beverage brand’s website or social media accounts, and even fewer (11%) look to QR codes found on packaging for this information.
Most people have heard of the term “fortification,” but only one in four say they know at least a fair amount about it. Those 65 years or older and those with college degrees were more likely to say they are familiar with the term “fortification” and know a fair amount about it compared with those under age 45 and those without college degrees, respectively. Of those who have heard of fortification, most believe that fortified foods/beverages can have health benefits (68%) and are convenient (65%) and safe (62%). For those who actively seek out fortified foods or beverages, top choices include fruit or vegetable juices (50%), dairy products (47%) and breakfast cereals (46%).
Knowing about fortification can influence the purchase of a product with a longer ingredient list. When asked about likelihood of purchase between a product with a longer vs. shorter ingredient list, two in five (41%) said they were more likely to buy a product with a shorter list. However, informing people that a longer ingredient list was due to the presence of additional, fortified vitamins and minerals moderated the swing toward desiring a shorter ingredient list: In this situation, 67% were more likely to purchase the fortified product with a longer ingredient list and more vitamins and minerals, compared with 33% who were more likely to purchase the alternative.
Survey results were derived from online interviews of 1,023 adults conducted from March 4th to March 8th, 2021, by Lincoln Park Strategies. They were weighted to ensure proportional representation of the population, with a margin of error of ±3.1 points at the 95% confidence level.