Amer­i­cans don’t get enough nu­tri­ents, here’s a so­lu­tion

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Steve Mis­ter

Nearly nine in ten Amer­i­cans don’t get enough vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

Many nu­tri­tion­ists think this is a sim­ple di­etary chal­lenge. Amer­i­cans just need to eat more fresh pro­duce, lean pro­tein, and whole grains.

That’s eas­ier said than done. Many peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the poor, live in com­mu­ni­ties that lack healthy food op­tions. And the eco­nom­ics don’t help. Nu­tri­ent-rich foods tend to be ex­pen­sive, while calo­riedense, nu­tri­ent-poor foods tend to be cheap.

For­tu­nately, solv­ing Amer­ica’s di­etary short­falls is pos­si­ble with the help of nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments like daily mul­ti­vi­ta­mins. They’re no sub­sti­tute for healthy eat­ing, but they’re a re­al­is­tic way to plug the gaps in our di­ets.

Many Amer­i­cans liv­ing in re­mote ru­ral ar­eas, or in­ner cities without su­per­mar­kets, strug­gle to ac­cess fresh, healthy foods. In Minneapolis, nearly four in ten cor­ner stores don’t sell fresh pro­duce. For most Detroit res­i­dents, the near­est gro­cery store is twice as far as the clos­est fast-food joint. Half a mil­lion Hous­to­ni­ans live in neigh­bor­hoods so far from gro­cery stores they’re called “food deserts.”

Even Amer­i­cans with ac­cess to healthy foods fail to get enough of the nearly three dozen nu­tri­ents for which the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished rec­om­mended daily in­takes. Vi­ta­mins A and D, mag­ne­sium, fiber and choline are among the short­fall nu­tri­ents in our di­ets.

Get­ting nu­tri­ents from food alone is dif­fi­cult. Con­sum­ing the gov­ern­ment-rec­om­mended 1,000 mil­ligrams of cal­cium per day would take over 10 cups of cooked kale -- or more than 7 cups of cot­tage cheese. Meet­ing ad­vised daily Vi­ta­min D lev­els would ne­ces­si­tate chow­ing down nearly a dozen eggs or over 4 pounds of Swiss cheese. Folks would need to eat over three cups of black-eyed peas or nearly six cups of cooked broc­coli to reach the rec­om­mended amount of folic acid.

Those de­fi­cien­cies can lead to se­ri­ous health prob­lems. A lack of Vi­ta­min A can leave peo­ple more prone to in­fec­tions and eye prob­lems. Vi­ta­min D de­fi­cien­cies can con­trib­ute to os­teo­poro­sis, de­pres­sion, and can­cer. A person who doesn’t get enough mag­ne­sium may de­velop high blood pres­sure, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and type 2 di­a­betes.

Given these risks, it’s no won­der that nu­tri­tion­ists urge peo­ple to eat nu­tri­ent-rich foods like quinoa, chia seeds, oys­ters, al­monds, and black­eyed peas.

But this isn’t prac­ti­cal. The foods rich­est in nu­tri­ents are also some of the prici­est. Quinoa, for ex­am­ple, costs $6 per pound. That’s tough to jus­tify when a bag of rice costs one-tenth as much. A small pack of chia seeds runs $10.

It’s un­re­al­is­tic to think that the 43 mil­lion Amer­i­cans liv­ing in poverty would be able to af­ford these lux­u­ries.

It’s cer­tainly pos­si­ble for peo­ple to get all of the nu­tri­ents they need from healthy eat­ing. But for those who strug­gle to main­tain a per­fect diet, mul­ti­vi­ta­mins can help fill in the gaps for about a dime a day.

Re­search con­firms that peo­ple who take mul­ti­vi­ta­mins are health­ier. One study tracked nearly 15,000 older men for over a decade. Those who took a mul­ti­vi­ta­min daily were less likely to de­velop can­cer than those who did not. An­other study dis­cov­ered that women who took a mul­ti­vi­ta­min for at least three years were less likely to die from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

It would be won­der­ful if ev­ery­one had the time, money, and op­por­tu­nity to eat a healthy diet daily. But un­til that day ar­rives, folks can help pro­tect their health with a proven way to fill nu­tri­tional gaps -- a mul­ti­vi­ta­min.

Steve Mis­ter is the pres­i­dent and CEO of the Coun­cil for Re­spon­si­ble Nutri­tion, the lead­ing trade as­so­ci­a­tion for the di­etary sup­ple­ment and func­tional food in­dus­try.

Steve Mis­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.