National Nutrition Month: Focus on Getting Your Vitamins and Minerals
March is National Nutrition Month, a nutrition and education campaign ponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Their 2015 theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”. Everyone should try to eat healthier and be more physically active. Good advice for the more than 7 billion people needing food.
It is needed. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee identified 8 vitamins and minerals that most Americans fail to meet recommended intakes. Nutrition professionals always encourage people to consume more fruit, vegetables and whole-grain cereals. This is good but it is important to eat foods which have added vitamins and minerals to them. When people rely predominantly on foods which haven’t had vitamins or minerals added, they are more likely to not meet dietary recommendations (Fulgoni et al, 2011;Berner et al, 2014).
Think about vitamin D. Milk is one of a few food groups allowed to be fortified with fat-soluble vitamin D. So who would guess that fruit juice is the 4th most important source of vitamin D for 2-18y olds? Innovations in food technology are making classical associations of nutrients with food groups irrelevant. Berner and colleagues report that kids 2-8y obtain more vitamin C from sugary foods (3.8%) than white potatoes (2.3%) or broccoli, spinach and greens (2.2%). For adolescents (9-18y), white potato and other vegetables provide much less vitamin C than fruit juice (32%), fruit drinks-ades (23.7%) and fruit (11%). It is important that they have these sources when 6% of the US population has low enough vitamin C levels to be diagnosed with scurvy. More concerning is that the prevalence is even higher in teenage females.
So during March, encourage people to read Nutrition Facts panels and to consume foods which are good (10% Daily Value, DV) and excellent sources (20% DV) of vitamins and minerals.
Berner LA, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer JT. Fortified foods are major contributors to nutrient intakes in children and adolescents. 2014 JAND doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.10.012
Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? 2011 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142257