Americans mostly getting enough nutrients

April 12, 2012|By Meredith Cohn

Americans have good levels of many important vitamins in their bodies, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There still are some stark disparities, such as a 31 percent vitamin D deficiency in African Americans, but overall the assessment was pretty good, the federal agency determined from blood and urine samples collected from participants in its National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing nationwide survey of a host of health issues.

The report doesn’t necessarily indicate that people are eating healthy diets, but they are for the most part getting enough vitamins A and D and folate, among other vitamins and nutrients. The data on 58 biochemical indicators was from 1999-2006.

“These findings are a snapshot of our nation’s overall nutrition status,” said Christopher Portier, director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, in a statement. “Measurements of blood and urine levels of these nutrients are critical because they show us whether the sum of nutrient intakes from foods and vitamin supplements is too low, too high, or sufficient.”

There were other disparities by age, gender and race, but for most vitamins and nutrients were deficient by only 10 percent or less. The larger disparities need attention, the CDC says.

Iodine levels were found to be borderline insufficient in women of childbearing years. Iodine is an essential to prevent mental retardation, hypothyroidism and other developmental abnormalities. Mexican-American women and children and blacks were also deficient in iron, which may help control some chronic disease including cancer.

Folate proved to be a successful story all around. Cereal-grain products began adding folic acid in 1998 and deficiencies dropped to less than 1 percent after that. About 12 percent of women in childbearing years were deficient before fortification. Folate is essential before and during pregnancy to prevent fetal major birth defects of the brain and spine.

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