Nutrients: Who Needs More?

Are you getting all you need of every nutrient? “The average American doesn’t have any outright deficiencies, but a lot of people just barely getting by”, says John Erdman Jr., Ph.D., director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of llinois. Deficiency diseases such as rickets and beriberi are almost unheard of this country.

On the other hand, many Americans may not have enough nutrients stored to meet the extra nutritional demands placed on the body by things like a viral invasion. “As a result, they may get more colds or take longer to recover from setbacks to their health”, says Dr. Erdman.

The elderly quite often are at risk for marginal deficiency, points out Howerde E. Sauberlich, Ph.D., professor of nutrition in the Department of nutritional Sciences at the University of Alabama.”Their bodies’ ability to use nutrients may be impaired by age”, he says. The elderly also often don’t eat as much as they did when younger-but their nutrient needs diminish only slightly.

Other groups who may be at risk for specific deficiencies:

  • Pregnant or nursing women, who need extra nutrients.
  • Frequent aspirin takers, because interferes with metabolism of vitamin C and folic acid.
  • Heavy drinkers, because alcohol depletes the B vitamins and vitamin C.
  • Smokers, who apparently use more vitamin C than non smokers.
  • Strict vegetarians, who eat no foods from animals, may be low on vitamin D, riboflavin, B12, calcium, zinc and iron.

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