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Some Americans Not Getting Essential Nutrients

Some Americans Not Getting Essential Nutrients

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that women and some racial minority groups may not be getting enough of certain essential nutrients.

Although less than 10 percent of people involved in the study had nutritional deficiencies, some important patterns arose when specific groups and nutrients were broken out.

Vitamin D: The highest levels of deficiency were found for vitamin D, which is best known for its role in bone health and helping the body absorb and metabolize calcium. More recently, research has shown that vitamin D also helps protects the immune system, and may help protect against cancer, asthma, arthritis, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity.

The CDC found that almost one third of African Americans and 12 percent of Hispanics have low vitamin D levels compared to 3 percent of whites. However, African Americans and Hispanics have much lower rates of osteoporosis than whites, leading study the study authors to question whether all racial groups have the same vitamin D needs.

Iodine: Although iodine deficiency has not been common in the U.S. since the 1920s when the nutrient was added to table salt, the study found that, as a group, women between the ages of 20 and 49 have levels so low they border on deficiency. Iodine is especially important for this group (women of childbearing age) due to its role in helping a baby’s brain develop. One expert noted: “Processed foods probably do not contain iodized salt, so the majority of salt in the diet – 85% from processed foods – is not providing iodine.”

Iron: Iron levels continue to be problematic for nearly 1 in 10 American women. Iron deficiency has  historically been more problematic for women due to blood loss during menstruation. African Americans and Hispanics also have higher rates of deficiency than whites. Iron can be difficult to absorb, as reported in this One Green Planet article about the role of vitamin C and iron in plant-based nutrition.

For more information about nutrition, check out this incredibly informative article, Top Vegan Nutrition Myths Busted (by Experts!) or browse other articles in One Green Planet’s vegan nutrition section.

Image Credit: DBduo Photography/Flickr

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One comment on “Some Americans Not Getting Essential Nutrients”

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Scott
4 Years Ago

One of the major causes of Vitamin D deeciifncy is insufficient exposure to sunlight. For this reason, people with indoor lifestyles as well as people living in regions with less sunlight are more likely to have lowered vitamin D levels. Certain health conditions and medications may also inhibit absorption or increase metabolism of the vitamin.Your mom can raise her vitamin D level by spending at least 20-30 minutes in the sun every day or taking pill supplements. Depending on the specific cause of her deeciifncy, the strength of the supplement will vary:-Inadequate sun exposure: 50,000 IU per week for 8 weeks-Malabsorption caused by health conditions: 50,000 IU every day or every other day-Medications that increase vitamin D metabolism: 50,000 IU every 2 weeks for 8-10 weeksFoods rich in vitamin D, such as pickled herring, canned boned salmon, and mackerel, will also help.While red meat does combat iron deeciifncy, other dietary staples such as bread and other starches inhibit the absorption of iron. Additionally, excessive blood loss and certain chronic diseases may also lead to lowered iron levels. During their childbearing years, women lose twice as much iron as men from menstruation and pregnancy. Consultation with a doctor will help your mom to uncover the particular cause of her iron deeciifncy. In the meantime, meat and ferrous sulfate supplements will increase the iron in her system.


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