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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


What is Wrong with a Little Insurance?

By Michael McBurney

The American Society of Nutrition held its 5th Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition Conference Dec 4-6 in Long Beach, CA.  Dr Marian Neuhouser, a member of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, presented highlights from the 2015 DGAC.

Today’s accompanying image shows results for the consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Briefly, nobody in the United States is consuming the recommended number of whole grain servings daily. In all age groups except men and women >50y, over 80% are not consuming enough servings of vegetables. Fruit consumption is not much better in everyone over 8y of age.

Because of these dietary habits, it is a good thing that 2/3 of Americans choose to use dietary supplements. However, it is the 100 million Americans who do not use a multivitamin – mineral supplement who are at greatest risk. Why? Because supplement users tend to have better dietary patterns, exercise more regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid tobacco products. In other words, those who don't use supplements could most likely see the greatest benefit.

Nationally representative data (CDC’s Second Nutrition Report) finds the prevalence of nutrient deficiencies has not changed in recent history. 10.5% of women are vitamin B12 deficient. 9.5% of women (12-49) are iron deficient. 8.1% are vitamin D deficient. 6.7% of 1-5y olds are iron deficient. 6% of those 6y and older are vitamin C deficient. These are not statistics derived from a failure of eating a few servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Nutrient deficiencies reflect longterm inadequate dietary patterns.

As a society and individuals, we should aspire for more than preventing nutrient deficiency. We should aspire to maintain vitamin concentrations that support health and longevity. \

Be an advocate for ChooseMyPlate. Be pragmatic as well. If you, or someone you love, is not eating a healthy, balanced diet, encourage them to choose a multivitamin-mineral supplement. What is wrong with a little insurance?


Dickinson A, MacKay D. Health habits and other characteristics of dietary supplement users: a review. 2014 Nutr J doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-14