Are you at risk for nutritional deficiencies?

Consumer Reports News: April 04, 2012 09:38 AM

About 10 percent of the U.S. population has nutritional deficiencies--mostly for vitamins B6, D, and iron--according to a report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC researchers found that non-Hispanic black people and Mexican-Americans were more likely to be vitamin D deficient compared with non-Hispanic white people.

Children were at increased risk for iron deficiency, and women for iron and vitamin B6 deficiency, the CDC reported. Moreover, researchers found higher rates of iron deficiency in Mexican-American children ages 1 to 5 years, and in non-Hispanic black women and Mexican-American women of childbearing age when compared with other groups.

Women 20 to 39 years of age had the lowest iodine levels compared with all other age groups. That's important news for women of childbearing age because iodine plays an important role in brain development of the fetus during pregnancy.

Men were at increased risk for vitamin C deficiency, and seniors for vitamin B6 or B12 deficiency, according to the report.

Those findings come from the CDC's analysis of blood and urine samples from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data reports from 1999 through 2006. The researchers analyzed the samples for 58 biochemical indicators of nutritional status, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E, carotenoids, 24 different fatty acids, folate, and trace elements such as iron and iodine.

Bottom line: The CDC'S findings are a snapshot of our nation's overall nutrition status, not the state of our health. Differences in biochemical levels between groups do not necessarily suggest health problems, the CDC said. Independent research is needed to determine levels that indicate risk for disease.

Meanwhile here are some food sources of nutrients people may be deficient in: Meats, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts are abundant sources of vitamin B6; fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products, and fortified breakfast cereals are valuable sources of vitamin B12; orange juice, grapefruit juice, peaches, sweet red peppers, and papayas are good sources of vitamin C; fish, fortified milk products and other fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and orange juice are major sources of vitamin D; red meat, fish, poultry, lentils and beans are main sources of iron; and dairy products and grains are good sources of iodine.

Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population

Doug Podolsky

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