We all know the importance that vitamins and minerals play in our health. Vitamins are essential for growth, development, and normal cell function. Minerals are important for building bones, making hormones, and regulating the heartbeat. You would think that eating a variety of foods would meet all of your nutritional needs. Well, that’s not always the case. Americans, in particular, lack the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals they need.
There are many reasons for nutritional deficiencies: genetically modified foods, deficient soil, the shipping, processing and cooking of foods, poor digestion, environmental factors (pollution, water, etc.), medications, and more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 43 different vegetables and fruits have declined in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B12), and vitamin C over the past half century.1
The consumption of vitamins A, C, D and E is inadequate in 25-70% of the U.S. population. Americans are also 38% deficient in calcium, 45% deficient in magnesium, and 97% deficient in potassium.2
To make matters worse, Americans exceed the recommendations for sodium, saturated fats, refined grains, solid fats and added sugars. All of this can lead to chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and various forms of cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 30% of deaths are related to obesity, lack of activity and poor nutrition.3
What are we to do?
Eat a healthy diet, exercise, get adequate sleep, and choose a daily multivitamin supplement. Overall, Americans should increase their consumption of foods rich in vitamins A, C, D and E as well as folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
Two things I want to highlight are vitamin D and fiber, both essential to overall health.
Vitamin D is critical for bone health, muscle strength, immune function, and the reduction of inflammation. It promotes calcium absorption in the gut. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU and yet the average intake is 156-404 IU.4 Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin and brittle. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
Fiber is critical to better health for blood sugar control, improved digestive health, weight loss, lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes, and more. Most Americans are not getting enough. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It helps relieve constipation, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Let your health care providers (including doctors, pharmacists, and dietitians) know which dietary supplements you’re taking so that you can discuss what’s best for your overall health, and avoid any drug-nutrient interactions. Avoid supplements with sweeteners, colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers.
Please note that dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not drugs and, therefore, are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases.
Dr. John W. Buckner, M.D. graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine in 1985. He practices medicine in Springfield, MO and specializes in surgery. Dr. Buckner is affiliated with Ferrell-Duncan Clinic and CoxHealth in Springfield. Dr. Buckner is a Wellness Advisory Board member and is proud to be part of the PURE: People United Reaching Everyone family.
Wellness Advisory Board Members are compensated for their role on the Wellness Advisory Board. In addition to serving as a Wellness Advisory Board Member, Dr. John W. Buckner, MD is also a PURE Independent Business Owner.
2J Nutr. 2011 Oct;141(1):1847-54