Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Overfed and Undernourished

How is it that Americans today consume an average of 610 calories a day more than they did 20 years ago—yet are still falling short in getting enough of the most critical nutrients needed for a long and healthy life? Blame it on our superbusy, fast food-packed lifestyles that drive us to make compromises of convenience, which are taking a toll on our nutritional status.

  • More than 80% of Americans have inadequate vitamin D blood levels, and for those over 50, almost 100% do not get the recommended amount of vitamin D from their diet. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, and a results in osteomalacia (a softening of bones in adults).
  • About half of adults don't get enough vitamin C, which plays a role in immune function. One of the first signs of poor vitamin C status is low energy.
  • 86% of men and 93% of women don't get enough vitamin E. This vitamin also is key to supporting a healthy immune system.
  • 90% of teenage girls, more than 67% of women ages 19–50, and more than 90% of women over 50 fall short in reaching the recommended dietary intake for calcium from diet alone. Calcium is a mineral essential for strong and healthy bones.
  • Iron deficiency is believed to affect up to 16% of premenopausal women in the U.S., primarily because suboptimal iron consumption and menstruation lead to negative iron balance.
  • Two-thirds of adults don't get enough magnesium, an essential mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps normal heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong.
  • American adults consume only about 15 grams of dietary fiber daily, while dietary guidelines recommend 25 to 35 grams per day. Fiber is important for healthy digestive function and for reducing the risk of heart disease.
There's no question that NOW is the time to set a goal of eating more healthfully. Start by consuming healthier fast foods: fresh fruits and vegetables for some extra vitamin C, a handful of nuts for the vitamin E and magnesium you may be missing, an extra glass of low-fat or nonfat milk to get more calcium and vitamin D, and replace that white bread with a slice of whole grain toast to help boost your fiber intake. While you're working toward that goal, take a comprehensive multivitamin/multimineral supplement every day to help fill your nutrient gaps!