An analysis of current data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006 assessed usual intakes of 19 micronutrients for U.S. residents aged 2 years and older. Nutrient intakes were assessed from all sources, including nutrients naturally occurring in food, nutrients contributed by enrichment/fortification of foods and nutrients supplied by dietary supplements. This is the first analysis to separately determine intakes of micronutrients naturally occurring in foods and those contributed by enrichment and/or fortification. When only naturally occurring food sources were considered, substantial percentages of children and adults did not consume enough of several micronutrients. Enrichment and/or fortification of foods contributed significant percentages of vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and iron. When intakes from dietary supplements were considered, the percentages of those underconsuming these nutrients were further reduced.
According to the analysis, the percentage of individuals with total usual nutrient intake from foods and dietary supplements below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for the population was considerable for vitamin D (70 percent), vitamin E (60 percent), calcium (38 percent), vitamin A (34 percent), vitamin C (25 percent) and magnesium (45 percent). Less than 3 percent of the population had total usual intakes of potassium that exceeded the EAR. The EAR is used by experts to identify nutrient inadequacies in groups or populations, but not individuals. The Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA, is the target for individuals and dietary patterns in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
The DGA recommends individuals achieve recommended nutrient intakes from food sources, without over-consuming calories, by consuming nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Americans 9 years and older are currently consuming 1.6 of the recommended three dairy servings per day on average. Adding just one more serving of dairy can help fill some of America’s nutrient gaps, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium — under-consumed nutrients identified by the DGA to be of public health concern.
Fulgoni III VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr. [Epub ahead of print]. 2011 Aug 24.
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