Vampire Nutrition: You Are What You Eat

Posted on by Dr. Christopher J. Portier
Vampire Nutrition - You Are What You Eat!

If “you are what you eat,” then a healthy human should make for a healthy vampire.

With a hot new vampire movie just around the corner, you might find yourself overcome with hunger pangs. If you’re a vampire that’s been feeding on less than healthy human blood, perhaps it’s time to “re-vamp” your diet. 

CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health has produced the first—yes, the first CDC publication that offers information on a wide range of biochemical indicators in a single document: the National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population 1999-2002, better known as the “Nutrition Report.” In this report, you learn that a healthy human’s blood should have certain biochemical indicators. 

SyringeWith its advanced laboratory science and innovative techniques, CDC has been at the forefront of assessing the nutritional status of the U.S. population. NCEH’s environmental health laboratory does this by measuring levels of nutritional indicators found in human blood. So, before making dinner plans, you may want to ensure your next human’s diet is based on these four biochemical indicators: 

1. Water-Soluble Vitamins and Related Biochemical Compounds

Folate and vitamin B12 belong to the group of B vitamins that occur naturally in food. Leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and turnip greens), fruits (such as citrus fruits and juices), and dried beans and peas are all natural sources of folate. Don’t complain—it’s not like you have to eat the veggies yourself. 

2. Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Micronutrients
  • fruits,
  • meats,
  • some vegetables, and
  • animal products.

Foods with high vitamin A content are 

  • fish-liver oils,
  • liver,
  • egg yolks,
  • butter, and
  • cream.

Nuts and seeds are particularly rich sources of vitamin E (Thomas 2006). At least 700 carotenoids are found in nature (Britton 2004). Americans consume 40–50 of these carotenoids, mostly in fruits and vegetables (Khachik 1992). Smaller amounts are in seafoods and poultry products, including egg yolks (Boylston 2007). 

3. Iron-Status Indicators

Blood cellsOkay—you’ll really like this one. It’s about blood……well, sort of. Iron functions as a component of proteins and enzymes. Almost two-thirds of the iron in the body (approximately 2.5 grams of iron) is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. The other 15% is in the myoglobin of muscle tissue. The average American diet provides 10–15 milligrams (mg) of iron daily in two forms: heme and nonheme iron. 

  • Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin and myoglobin, such as red meat, fish, and poultry
  • Nonheme iron is found in plant foods, such as lentils and beans, and also in iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods.

Human bodies absorb heme iron better than nonheme iron, but most iron in our diets is nonheme iron (Miret 2003). Each day the body absorbs approximately 1–2 mg of iron to compensate for the 1–2 mg of iron that the (nonmenstruating) body loses (Institute of Medicine 2001). 

4. Trace Elements in Soil: Iodine and Selenium

Iodine and selenium are trace elements found in soil. And no, the time you spend regenerating in your native soil doesn’t count here. No, really–it doesn’t. So just play it safe and encourage your human to eat iodized salt and seafood as the major dietary sources of iodine or plant foods containing selenium. If humans do not get enough iodine, they can develop these disorders:

  • mental retardation
  • hypothyroidism
  • goiter
  • cretinism
  • varying degrees of other growth and developmental abnormalities.


SaltIodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones involved you regulating the human body’s metabolism. In the United States, salt is iodized with potassium iodide. About 50–60% of the U.S. population chooses iodized salt (Institute of Medicine 2001). Still, most of the salt we eat (about 70%) comes from processed food, which typically is not iodized (The Public Health Committee of the American Thyroid Association 2006). If humans do not get enough iodine, they can develop these disorders:Did you know that Iodine deficiency is the most preventable cause of mental retardation in the world (World Health Organization 2007)?
The National Academy of Sciences has established an estimated average requirement for selenium for boys and girls 9–13 years old or 14–18 years old this requirement is 35 and 45 μg daily, respectively. For healthy children aged 1–3 years or 4–8 years, the currently recommended selenium requirement is 17 and 23 μg daily, respectively. (Institute of Medicine 2000). 


FishSelenium is a trace mineral essential to good health. Plant food is the major dietary source of selenium, but some meats and seafood also have selenium. In the United States, meats and bread are common sources of dietary selenium. Depending on where your food comes from, its selenium content can vary, but selenium deficiency in the United States is rare. In the United States, most cases of selenium depletion or deficiency are associated with severe gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohn’s disease, or with the surgical removal of part of the stomach, which affects the way your body absorbs selenium (Kuroki 2003; Rannem 1992; Bjerre 1989). 

For more information, visit CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences.

Posted on by Dr. Christopher J. PortierTags , , ,

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Page last reviewed: November 21, 2013
Page last updated: November 21, 2013