Friday, June 12, 2009

How Adequate Is Your Nutrient Level?

Did you know that approximately two-thirds of the standard American diet is made up of unhealthy fats and refined sugars having low or no nutrient density? That means the remaining one-third of the average diet has to somehow compensate for what is lacking. The fact is that the rest of the diet is probably not from nutrient-dense food either and cannot possibly fully meet a person’s nutrient needs.

But that’s not all. Nutrient deficiencies can rob the body of its health and can contribute to aging, while weakening the body’s overall physiological and psychological performance. More specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that a significant percentage of the older U.S. population falls well below the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for the following:

Vitamin E (nearly 80% are below)
Vitamin C (over 40% are below)
Vitamin B-6 (nearly 70% are below)
Calcium (over 70% are below)
Magnesium (over 80% are below)
Zinc (87% are below)
Iron (over 35% are below)

Typical diets also contain less than 80% of the RDA for calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese—and the people most at risk are teenage girls and adult women.

Did you know, too, that there is a widespread vitamin D deficiency? And while the words inadequate intake or deficiency may appear benign, their implications are unsettling. For example, a deficiency in vitamin D can result in malabsorption of nutrients, low bone density, increased risk of fractures, failing skeletal health, and more.

Additionally, a vitamin C deficiency can result in scurvy, increased muscle damage after exercising, and increased skin damage. An inadequate intake of vitamin A, beta-carotene, iodine, and zinc can adversely affect thyroid function.

And did you know that vitamin B6 plays an essential role in many metabolic processes in the body, such as nervous system development and functioning? It’s true—so you don’t want to come up short on that, either.

Here’s the takeaway: Past and recent studies indicate that there are numerous benefits to receiving the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Lacking in even one or a few can have potential serious health ramifications. Perhaps the sobering aspect of many studies’ findings, however, is that many of us may be deficient or have inadequate intakes of necessary vitamins and minerals and may not even be aware of it.

One great way to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet is to include nutrient-dense, whole, organic foods. Unlike our standard American diet, nutrient-dense foods can deliver a vitamin-packed and mineral-packed wallop. As an added step, you can take a daily multivitamin to support adequate nutrient intake—as major health agencies, such as the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association, recommend.

Not all supplements are created equal, however, so be sure to choose wisely. In everything from dosages, Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), to the manufacturing process for supplements, you need to become as informed as possible prior to adding a supplement regimen to your lifestyle.

And, as always, you should consult your health professional prior to making any health-related decision.

Dr.Jordin Rubin

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