In 2015 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new dietary guidelines about healthy eating. The guideline includes eating less sugar, limiting calories from saturated fats, and reducing sodium intake1. All the suggestions given are perfectly reasonable. But the only problem is that most American’s don’t follow them. Alongside our high consumption of sugar and salt, as a population, we’re also deficient in key minerals and vitamins2.
Here are 5 of the top problems with the American diet.
1- Fruits, veggies, and vitamins
About three-fourths of the US population has a diet that is low in vegetables, fruits, and dairy products2. That means that most of us are missing out on important nutrients for
- healthy skin,
- good eyesight, and
- boosting our immune system.
Increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping us meet our daily required intake of things like
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Vitamin K, Magnesium, and
Another mineral that a majority of the population is deficient in is calcium3. This one may come as a bit of shock because a lot of people do consume dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt). Just not in high amounts. Calcium is critical for strong bone development. It is used to help our heart, muscles, and nerves function properly.
The human body is capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs, except for two: linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. And as it turns out, these are pretty important. Furthermore, though the body can product other omega-3s, it is not a significant amount. And DHA is essential to our health. There are hundreds of functions that these omega-3s and omega-6s carry out. The most important are4:
- Omega-3s can help improve the health of our heart. It’s the ‘good’ type of cholesterol
- Omega-3s can help our body fight inflammation
- Omega-3s may help prevent dementia -people who eat more fish (which is high in omega-3s) tend to have a slower decline in brain function in old age
- Omega-6 fats are an important source of energy for the body
DHA is one of the most important Omega-3 fatty acids.
4- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s essential for blood formation and brain/nerve function. However, the body is unable to produce B12 so you must get this vitamin must via food sources or supplements. A lot of B12 deficiencies exist for specific reasons but the most common ones are:
- Vegans/vegetarians: B12 is mostly found in animal products so many vegans and vegetarians develop this deficiency over time. In both of these cases, add fortified foods to the diet and supplements must to meet this need.
- The elderly: The body’s ability to absorb B12 decreases with age5.
Anemia is a medical condition that occurs when you have a decreased level of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. It’s usually caused by an iron deficiency and can sometimes lead to symptoms like
- fatigue, or
- shortness of breath.
Iron deficiency anemia is the leading cause of anemia in the United States and throughout the world6. While the condition may be common, many people don’t even know they have it. The symptoms can be so mild that it goes unnoticed but iron deficiency is something that should be addressed. Thankfully, it’s an issue that’s easy to fix. A minor addition to your diet-meat, fish, leafy greens, or a supplement is all that’s needed.
Although many of us try our best to stay healthy and stick to a well-balanced diet, it takes time, effort, and a bit of planning to pull it off successfully. Sometimes we’re able to reach that goal but other times we fall short. So for those not able to get all the nutrients and minerals that you need on a daily basis, try and fill in the gaps with a quality supplement. It’s a quick and effortless way to make sure that you’re giving your body the best chance it has to function at the highest level.