You Ask, I Answer: Nutrient Deficiencies in the USA?
Posted Nov 13 2009 10:00pm
I’ve heard some nutritionists say that nutrient deficiencies among Americans are rare due to the sheer amount of food we eat.
But, I have also heard reports that ”most Americans don’t get enough potassium” or “30% of women in the U.S. don’t have an adequate intake of calcium”.
So, which is it?
– Corey Clark (Location Unknown)
Wonderful — and very insightful — question.
Both statements you’ve heard are accurate — and one does not cancel the other out!
The answer to this puzzle? Nutrient deficiencies and insufficient intakes are two very different concepts that exist on a continuum.
A nutrient deficiency is tangible. It has specific physical and/or biochemical symptoms which can be explicitly corrected by consuming adequate amounts of that nutrient (think Vitamin C and scurvy, or iron and iron-deficiency anemia).
Although insufficient intakes of nutrients — which are much more common — often increase one’s risk of developing certain conditions and diseases, they do not clinically manifest themselves like deficiencies.
Let’s go back to the vitamin C example. Someone with an insufficient intake of vitamin C might have a more vulnerable immune system, but not have such a low intake that they develop scurvy.