Tens of millions of Americans aren’t getting enough essential nutrients to ensure their bodies function optimally, according to data from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tieraona Low Dog, a nationally recognized physician, author and speaker, presented that information on Sept. 9 to congressional staffers at an educational briefing, “Life Fortified: A Physician’s Case for Dietary Supplements,” held by the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus.
Nearly 90 million Americans have a vitamin D deficiency; 30 million are deficient in vitamin B6; 18 million are deficient in vitamin B12; and nearly 16 million have a vitamin C deficiency, Low Dog reported.
Her findings contrast sharply with news that asserts Americans get the nutrients they need from food alone.
“I’m extremely concerned when I hear misleading soundbites on the evening news that people don’t need vitamins because they get all the nutrients they need from their diet because it isn’t just patients who hear this, doctors also hear it repeatedly,” Low Dog said. “This mantra that Americans get all the nutrients they need from food is simply not true and the data demonstrates it is false. It is much harder than you think to get the nutrients you need from food alone.”
To illustrate her point, Low Dog outlined what the average person would need to eat in order to consume the minimum recommended amount of many individual nutrients. For example, to get the recommended 18 milligrams of iron per day through food, you’d need to eat four cups of raisins, 15 cups of broccoli, three cups of cooked spinach, 10 ounces of beef liver or 45 ounces of chicken breast. Meeting the minimum amount of nutrition is especially difficult for low-income Americans who can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance to purchase candy and soda, but not multivitamins.
Industry and public health agencies must coordinate thoughtful initiatives to address the many complex factors that contribute to Americans' vitamin and mineral deficiencies, Low Dog said. Two of her concerns are the lower nutrient content in today’s foods and the unintended consequences of well-intentioned health campaigns to avoid certain, nutrient-rich foods such as egg yolks.
Low Dog's presentation was made with the cooperation of the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry: the American Herbal Products Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association, and the United Natural Products Alliance.