Physician provides data on Americans' alarming nutrient deficiencies at Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus briefing

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Physician provides data on Americans’ alarming nutrient deficiencies at Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus briefing

CDC data show that Americans don't get sufficient essential nutrients from food alone

Published: Friday, September 11, 2015

Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2015--Data from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that tens of millions of Americans aren't getting enough essential nutrients to ensure their bodies function optimally, a stark contrast to headlines and soundbites that assert Americans get the nutrients they need from food alone. The CDC data was presented by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., nationally recognized physician, author and speaker, to congressional staffers at a Sept. 9 educational briefing, "Life Fortified: A Physician's Case for Dietary Supplements," held by the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC) in cooperation with the leading trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry-the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA).

Citing CDC data, Dr. Low Dog highlighted that nearly 90 million Americans have a vitamin D deficiency, 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6, 18 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B12 and nearly 16 million Americans have a vitamin C deficiency.

"I'm extremely concerned when I hear misleading soundbites on the evening news that people don't need vitamins because they get all the nutrients they need from their diet because it isn't just patients who hear this, doctors also hear it repeatedly," Dr. Low Dog said. "This mantra that Americans get all the nutrients they need from food is simply not true and the data demonstrates it is false. It is much harder than you think to get the nutrients you need from food alone."

Dr. Low Dog illustrated this point by outlining what the average person would need to eat in order to get the minimum recommended amount of many individual nutrients.  For example, in order to get the recommended 18 milligrams of iron per day through food, you'd need to eat four cups of raisins, 15 cups of broccoli, three cups of cooked spinach, 10 ounces of beef liver, or 45 ounces of chicken breast. She noted that meeting the minimum amount of nutrition is especially difficult for low-income Americans who can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance to purchase candy and soda, but not multivitamins.

A thoughtful, coordinated approach between industry and public health initiatives is required to address the many complex factors like lower nutrient content in today's foods and unintended consequences of well-intentioned health campaigns to avoid certain, nutrient-rich foods like egg yolks that contribute to Americans' vitamin and mineral deficiencies, according to Dr. Low Dog.

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