Are We Getting Enough Vitamins and Nutrients?

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March is National Nutrition Month. To find out if Americans are getting enough nutrients, NCEH’s Division of Laboratory Sciences tested blood and urine samples collected by CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results may surprise you.

CDC’S Second Nutrition Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition found 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. are indeed getting enough of some important vitamins and nutrients. These include vitamins such as folate (important for brain and spine development during pregnancy) and vitamin D (needed for good bone health); and trace elements like iron (important to avoid anemia) and iodine (important for brain development during pregnancy). The report presents nutrition data by age, sex, and race/ethnicity to see if certain population groups have poorer nutrition status than others.

CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences in the National Center for Environmental Health measured 58 nutrition indicators in blood and urine samples collected from people who took part in CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The report includes data from 1999-2006. These measurements are vital because they show whether the total intake of nutrients from food and vitamin supplements is too low, too high, or enough. The findings don’t necessarily suggest that people have healthy and balanced diets.

Green vegitableWhile the CDC report provides a favorable snapshot of the nation’s overall nutrition status, some groups still need to get more vitamin D, iron, and iodine. For instance, over 30 percent of non-Hispanic blacks have low levels of Vitamin D; women age 20 to 39 – those most likely to become pregnant – have lower iodine levels than any age group; and Mexican-American and non-Hispanic black women are two times more likely to have low levels of iron than non-Hispanic white women.

“Research suggests that good nutrition can help lower people’s risk for many chronic diseases. But the deficiency rates in some age and race/ethnic groups are a concern and need additional attention,” said Christine Pfeiffer, Ph.D., a lead researcher in the Division of Laboratory Sciences.

CDC/NCEH has completed an infographic to highlight the findings of the report and provide continual awareness to the population groups needing to improve vitamin and nutrient levels.

In 2013, The Journal of Nutrition also offered a special supplement on the initial and additional findings from the report.

CDC’s report is the second in a series of publications that provide an ongoing assessment of the U.S. population’s nutrition status.

For more information and materials on the Second Nutrition Report or to listen to the At-A-Glance podcast, visit DLS Nutrition Report webpage.

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Page last reviewed: March 2, 2016
Page last updated: March 2, 2016