Americans may not eat the healthiest diets, but most get adequate levels of essential vitamins and nutrients, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For most nutrients, less than 10 percent of the population is deficient, the report showed.
However, deficiency rates vary by age, gender and ethnicity, and close to a third of African-Americans were deficient in vitamin D, the report said.
These higher deficiency rates are a concern and need more attention, said study researcher Christine Pfeiffer, of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.
The report gave the results of an analysis of blood and urine samples collected from people between 2003 and 2006, measuring levels of 58 nutrient markers.
For the U.S. as a whole, 10.5 percent of people were deficient in vitamin B6, 8.1 percent were deficient in vitamin D, 6.7 percent were deficient in iron, 6 percent were deficient in vitamin C, 2 percent were deficient in Vitamin B12, and less than 1 percent were deficient in vitamin A, E and folate.
Vitamin D deficiency was 31 percent among African-Americans, 12 percent among Mexican-Americans and 3 percent among whites. Further research is needed to explain why non-Hispanic blacks have better bone health but yet have a higher rate of vitamin D deficiency, the report noted.
Iodine levels among women ages 20 to 39 years may need improvement. This age group had iodine levels that were, on average, just above iodine insufficiency, the report said.
Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, which regulate growth and development. Iodine is especially important in women during childbearing years to ensure proper brain development of the fetus during pregnancy.
The report found higher rates of iron deficiency among Mexican-American children ages 1 to 5 (11 percent), blacks (16 percent), and Mexican-American women of childbearing age (13 percent) when compared with other race/ethnic groups.
One particular public health success story has been increases in folate levels in recent years. Blood folate levels in are 50 percent higher in all ethnic groups since the country began fortifying cereal-grain products with folic acid in 1998, the report said.
The CDC plans to further analyze the data to identify the influence of socioeconomic and lifestyle factors on levels of nutrient levels, the agency said.
Pass it on: Most Americans get adequate levels of vitamins and nutrients.