Vitamins and other dietary supplements continue to gain in popularity in the United States, according to a new government survey released Wednesday.

The percentage of U.S. adults who take supplements increased from 42 percent when the last National Health and Examination Survey was conducted in 1988 to 1994, to 50 percent when the most recent survey was performed in 2003 to 2006, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, which conducted the survey.

The survey involved detailed interviews with 18,504 adults between 1988 and 1994, and 9,432 adults between 2003 and 2006.

Vitamins and minerals are the most commonly used supplements, with about 40 percent of men and women saying they take them, the analysis showed..

Calcium, which protects bones, increased from 28 percent to 61 percent between the two surveys among women aged 60 and older.

Despite efforts to get more young women to take folic acid, which can prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, the intake of that nutrient did not increase, with only 34 percent of women ages 20 to 39 taking a supplement containing folic acid.

Vitamin D, however, which has been getting a lot of attention lately because of evidence that it may have a host of health benefits and indications that many Americans are deficient in the nutrient, increased for both men and women and most age groups.